It’s sweet-pea time! |

It’s sweet-pea time!

Sarah S. Chung

With spring in full stride, it’s time Aspenites prepare for peas – sweet peas, that is.

Inspired by the days when sweet pea plants formed colorful, fragrant columns up and down Main Street, Ramona Markalunas is once again heading up the charge to keep that tradition blooming.

“When I first came here in the 1950s, everyone grew sweet peas along Main Street. It was a sight,” Markalunas recalled. “But since then, properties have changed hands a few times and not as many people kept up with the planting.”

So taking matters into her own hands, Markalunas began distributing packets, along with planting directions, to the town’s gardeners eight years ago.

She started with a 10-pound bag of seeds in 1991. Two years ago, Markalunas took on The Aspen Times as her partner in the sweet-pea push and the distribution effort has grown to involve a 50-pound bag of seeds divvied up into 2,500 seed packets.

According to Aspen’s sweet-pea patron, the planting is simple and weather conditions should make 1999 a good year for the plants.

“For some reason, the blossoms get so big and beautiful here. They just grow fuller here than at lower altitudes,” Markalunas noted. “People have had great success with them and this year’s mild winter should make this season especially beautiful.”

The free seed packets are available now at both The Aspen Times office, 310 E. Main St., and at Accent Properties, 624 West North St.

The seeds may not be available for long though – people have been asking about the peas for months, said Markalunas.

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