NOW THAT we all love gardening, it seems appropriate to supply newer enthusiasts with hard facts.

"Sweet peas are perfect to plant right now," informs Helen Derrin of Clifton Nurseries. "Seeds will start to flower in eight weeks, while seedlings will take about six. Plant them in a sunny spot with lots of fertiliser, a fair amount of water and support canes for them to grow on. You can also get ground cover sweets which grow horizontally instead of up. Either way they look and smell lovely."

A bucker of trends, the sweet pea is, according to Helen, "a cottage garden favourite that is never out of favour. It has really weathered the test of time." UK

Prices start at 99p. Clifton Nurseries, 5a Clifton Villas, London W9. Tel: 0171 289 6851.