SOME time ago, a boy went to a primary school where there was a very unusual teacher.

She loved all growing things, including children! She also loved plants.

In the spring, she organised her class to put little round seeds into soil in white plastic beakers. They put them on a sunny windowsill in the class room, watered them regularly and watched the seedlings push up though the surface of the soil. When the little plants were about three inches high, the children put in a small stick to tie the seedlings up so they would not fall down.

They grew strong and healthy.

When it was just before Mothering Sunday, the class was told to take their beakers home and to give them to their mothers with a big kiss.

She said they should plant the seedlings in a sunny patch in the garden, continue to water them, give them sticks to climb up and eventually there would be wonderful, coloured, fragrant flowers — some of the most scented, beautiful flowers that can be grown in suburban gardens, sweet peas.

The children were told that they should let some flowers stay on the plant when the petals fell off and allow the inside part of the flower to form a fruit containing seeds, like a tiny pea pod.

If they kept the dried seeds until the following spring, they could plant them again in white plastic pots and have more sweet peas the next year.

What the teacher did not know was that one of her pupils did just this, on and off, for the next 40 years.

He grew some of the most wonderful sweet peas in the area.

He grew them on the balcony when he moved into a flat and gave bunches of them to the ladies who lived in the flat under his.

When he got married, his fiancée decided to put a sweet pea design on all the wedding invitations so they became the motif for the celebrations.

And he grew them in his garden when they moved into a house, concentrating on red and white flowered plants when Manchester United were top of the Premier League.

When he got an allotment, his sweet peas were good enough to win a prize at the flower show.

The teacher who started this sweet pea bonanza died some time ago.

But what a wonderful legacy she left!

Maybe, in heaven, she knows how many plants have originated from the Mothering Sunday gifts she encouraged her class to take home all those years ago, and knows how many people have appreciated the blossoms that resulted from the descendants of her original seeds.

Ruth Neal

Altrincham Interfaith Group