Our Garden in Late Spring 2018

What an amazing Spring it has been! Even though a trifle late to start due to the recent drought, we had rain just at the right time and even though we can always do with more, it has certainly had a rejuvenating effect on the garden!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9388In my post on early Spring at the beginning of October, we were in the throes of Spring blossoms, Dutch crocus, primroses, tulips and other Spring bulbs.BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN3903 They were soon followed by ranunculus; Crested, Bearded and Dutch iris; tree and intersectional peonies; and now, our glorious roses!BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_8508The garden is full of colour and scent and the birds, bees and I are in seventh heaven! Here are some of our locals: a magpie, a baby galah and of course, Oliver, the quiet and sociable King Parrot!

It is probably easiest to visit each section of the garden in turn! Following my steps in my daily garden inspection- well, let’s be honest, I probably do this three or four times a day (!), starting from the house, along the side path to the treasure garden and terrace, then descending the steps to the Soho Bed.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8990

We are then bowled over by the cutting garden with all its profligate abundance and riotous colour, then past the productive vegie and perennial bed to the bottom of the garden. On the way back, we visit the Moon Bed before swooning at the Main Pergola, then a walk up the hill past the new white hybrid musk hedge to the rainforest area, before following the steps down to Tea Garden and the shed.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8857House

The entrance arch from the lane is now looking very established and I love the appearance of these dainty little pink blooms of Cécile Brünner just as the camellias are bowing out.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9219We transplanted the Rugosa rose hedge from down by the brutish cottonwood poplar last Winter to the driveway and even though the soil is tough, these roses are also and can probably handle it! They will provide beautiful scent for passerbys and mask any odours from the garbage bins, as well as a beautiful sight from our bedroom window! Mme Georges Bruant (white) and Frau Dagmar Hastrup (light pink) are already up and blooming, but Roseraie de l’Haie has yet to find her feet, having been the closest to and worst affected by root competition from the giant poplar!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7776BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9060When we come out our back door, we are greeted by the sight of our magnificent Banksia rose, which has now fully recovered to its former glory, as well as the sweetly scented white and gold honeysuckle.

Its red and gold companion blooms further down the fence line, as does this glorious broom and this sweetly scented lilac.

Mme Herbert Stevens was one of the first roses to flower this year and has been so generous with her blooms. I love the soft tinge of pink on her creamy buds and her soft globular blooms.

The bright mixed massing freesias of early Spring were replaced by Cottage Gladioli Blushing Bride Gladiolus nanus and now, colour is provided by purple and pink lavenders.

Mrs Herbert Stevens was soon joined by the lemony white Noisette rose Lamarque, who is now quite established, and their combined scents waft up to the verandah every day.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8652Treasure Garden

The first garden bed I peruse on my daily walk, containing all my tiny or fragile treasures.BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_8505 It never fails to surprise me. I discovered that the Rhodohypoxis baurii survived after all and this year, had my first Lily-of-the-Valley flower!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8029

The blue and gold colour scheme of early Spring bulbs and primroses has now been replaced by pink, white and plum dianthus and the spicy scent as absolutely divine.BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN3995 In order: Coconut Ice; Doris; Valda Wyatt; Sugar Plum and oldfashioned favourite, Mrs Sinkins with the strongest fragrance of the lot!

Terrace

We were thrilled by our first Bearded Iris blooms on the terrace, presiding over their older cousins in the Soho Bed (soft gold) and the Moon Bed (mauve).BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7777 A dear friend gave us a number of corms to plant at the top of our future lavender bank and they produced a range of colours from the dark purple of early Spring to a bronze, gold, royal blue, pale blue, pale mauve and white.

I now have a new passion- bearded iris!!!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7588 We were also mystified by another different iris from my sister’s garden, eventually identifying it by its white crest as Iris tectorum, the iris found in the thatched rooves of Japanese and Chinese houses.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7408Soho Bed

The Soho Bed has been an absolute picture from the soft gold bearded iris, purple Italian Lavender, mauve catmint, light blue forget-me-not, pink and white valerian and mixed pink, white and purple aquilegiaBlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_7161BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN3904BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7794… to the blowsy chaos of late Spring, as can be seen in the photos below.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8458BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9170BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8281The rose have been glorious: Mr. Lincoln and The Alnwick Rose;BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9510

Lolita; BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4161The Alnwick Rose;BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8567Just Joey;BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_8713 and Fair Bianca.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8883Cutting Garden

Our decision to redesign the configuration of the cutting garden from 4 long skinny beds to 4 square quarters has certainly been vindicated by the best ever Spring display!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8255BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8969 - CopyIn the shady bed, the pansies persisted into late Spring, with magical foxgloves and aquilegia replacing the earlier Dutch Crocus.

I have never come across such tall heartsease, which skirt the purple divinely-scented sweet pea.

The late tulips (Carnevale) were replaced with the ever-faithful hoary stock, Jacobean lilies, blue cornflowers, yellow statice …

and poppies galore from wild species to orange, gold and white Iceland poppies and wonderful mottled mutations of Ladybird poppies.

The Dutch Iris were later than the bearded iris this year, possibly because we moved their bulbs in the reconfiguration of the cutting garden, but their display was superb,

especially in combination with the jewel-like colours of the Picasso ranunculus!

They have since been replaced with a wild riot of ladybird poppies, self-seeded from last year and mutating with a wide range of colours from the traditional scarlet to a pure red, mushroom pink and a delicate clear pink!

They looked fabulous with gold Dutch Iris and ranunculus and now, the blue nigella and cornflowers, which for once are standing upright with the support of the mass of poppies!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8977BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8253BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8660 And now, the dahlias are starting their season, both in the cutting garden and underneath the Albertine rose frame on the shed wall.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9501BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9786

The final bed is filled with feverfew, just about to flower, interspersed with Love-in-the-mist, Nigella hispanica, both beautiful fillers for vases! I love the variations in the latter’s colour and form.

The cutting garden has provided us with some beautiful bouquets, as well as edible flowers for our salads and omelettes.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9273BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_7114Vegetable Garden

This Spring, we have been enjoying fresh shallots, lettuces, cabbages and broccoli, the latter well protected from the marauding bower birds.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9469We have also been feasting on fresh strawberries for breakfast with yoghurt, on their own with cream for dessert and also in homemade strawberry ice cream and rhubarb and strawberry icecream!BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_8194 At the back of this bed are new hollyhocks and peony poppies from last season.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9591 The perennial bed has established well with rhubarb, asparagus, raspberries coming into fruit, angelica producing seed and Russian and standard comfrey in flower.

The mulberries are also turning black and we think the removal of the shading cottonwood poplar branch above it last Winter has really helped with the full sun sweetening up the berries.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9457 Peaches, plums, elderflowers, crabs and apples are also developing. BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7641BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4166BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9572BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7264At the bottom corner of the garden, buttery Albéric Barbier is in full bloom,

but its thorny stems were not enough to deter a lost wombat, who tried to barge his way unsuccessful through the fence one night!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9438 We return to the main garden through the future chook arch,BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4114smothered in pink Hybrid Musk, Cornelia,BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8768 BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8259 and Climbing Tea Rose, Sombreuil,BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9120BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8578 with a new vigorous Clematis texensis ‘Princess Diana’ rapidly clambering its way up the latter’s stems and flowering for the very first time- a real thrill!!!BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4509Moon Bed

Another visual treat, it looked particularly good, backed by the snowball tree in full bloom.BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4495 Starting with the mauve bearded iris and honesty,BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7599BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7710 it was followed by six beautiful intersectional peony blooms, their colour reminiscent of moonshine….BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7797 very similar in fact to the beautiful blooms of Troilus:BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_8708and finally the stunning David Austin roses: cream and gold roses: Golden Celebration, Jude the Obscure, Windermere and Troilus;

and soft pink William Morris, Lucetta and Heritage.

How could I not be inspired to make beautiful bouquets of these sumptuous globular roses!BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_8729BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_9287BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_9288Main Pergola

We are so happy with the main pergola, which is starting to look very established now!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8801BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_7771 The roses are clambering over the top now with their heads bowing down and are just so exquisitely beautiful!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8933 - Copy On the lower side, creamy Devoniensis,BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8572

perfect soft pink Souvenir de la MalmaisonBlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7633 and now New Dawn,BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9589 all backed by choisya, allspice and the snowball tree in full bloom. The photo below demonstrates the reason snowball trees got their name!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9190BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8573BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN3916 The upper side sports Adam,BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_8430 Souvenir de St AnneBlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9520 and my favourite Mme Alfred Carrière!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8945 - CopyBlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8805 Next to Adam, our tree peony bloomed for the first time this year- such a spectacle!BlogLateSpringGarden40%IMG_7115 And now, Philadelphus virginalis is treating us with her beautiful fragrance.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9588 On the other end of the pergola, the Michelia ‘White Caviar‘ gave a us a totally different olfactory feast in mid-Spring,BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7167 followed by the everchanging hues of Weigela.BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4067 The transplanting of the white hybrid musk hedge of roses last Winter was also a great success and all roses have experienced a great improvement in their health!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8943 - Copy

They included Hybrid Musk roses: Autumn Delight, Penelope, Kathleen and Stanwell Perpetual, a Scots rose with a delightful scent and long flowering period.

Rainforest Area

The big star of this area of the garden was the waratah ‘Shady Lady’ blooming for the first time!BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_7769

It was so exciting watching the bud, which had been dormant all Winter swelling and colouring up to produce its magnificent red bloom!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8325 We were also thrilled to see all the bluebells from my sister’s garden come up at the same time.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_7265 Down in the Tea Garden, all the mints have returned after their Winter dormancy and the Maigold holds court, being one of the first roses to flower this year and still flowering!

Entrance Arch and Albertine Frame

The gold of Maigold is continued at the corner of the shed on the entrance arch,BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8431BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4015which is smothered with Rêve d’OrBlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4017and Alister Stella Gray.BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4476 A blue Clematis macropetala ‘Pauline’ is climbing up through the latter rose, but has yet to flower for the first time.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9046BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8900The Albertine trellis has been spectacular in its second year with an extended flowering season and many many salmon-pink scented blooms.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9027BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9538The dahlias are now starting to appear under its petticoat!BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9534Shed Garden

On the other side of the shed, Albertine is matched by the exquisite Fritz Nobis, climbing beside the entrance door.

Fritz Nobis and Leander (below) are repeat-flowerers in a predominantly old-fashioned once-flowering rose contingent in the shed garden,BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4047 though Mutabilis and Archiduc Joseph also bloom throughout the season.

Once-flowering roses (left to right and top to bottom) include: York and Lancaster; Mme Hardy; Mme Isaac Pereire and Fantin Latour.

In amongst them grow old cottage garden favourites like yarrow, sweet peas, Gaillardia Goblin, agastaches, campanulas and alstroemerias.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9530The garden really looked a picture for the opening day of our latest venture, appropriately titled ‘Candelo Blooms’, selling handmade creations from the old shed.BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_9417 It has been a real labour of love and a long time in the planning and implementation, but we finally made it! My daughter Jen designed and painted the flyer and signs,

while my other daughter Caroline sold her own Christmas card sets, art cards and prints.

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My products included children’s clothing, cushions, toys and crepe paper flowers, as well as fresh bouquets straight from the garden and plants and secondhand books.BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4565BlogLateSpringGarden25%IMG_8830 while Kirsten Rose sold her beautiful timeless ceramics.BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4566This clever lady also designed another beautiful flyer for future promotions.IMG_9982We had a wonderful day- very well-attended by market visitors and many locals, who all really enjoyed the old shed, open garden and music provided by my beautiful daughters. We were even visited for the first time by a Tawny Frogmother Mum and baby, obviously very intrigued by all the festivities!BlogLateSpringGarden20%DSCN4580 It was such a fun day! Here is a photo of Ross and I outside the shed!GTOD9695

I hope that you have enjoyed a peek into our late Spring garden. Happy Gardening!BlogLateSpringGarden30%IMG_7286

Feature Plant for May: Divine Dianthus

Pinks are one of my favourite flowers, for their wonderful spicy clove-scented perfume; their heritage and history; their butterfly-attracting qualities; and their low maintenance and ease of growth, being heat and drought tolerant with very few pests. While I only have a few varieties in my garden, I would love to grow more, so I thought I would find out a little more about them, hence this post. These are the varieties I grow in my treasure garden: Coconut Sundae; Doris; Valda Wyatt; Sugar Plum and Mrs Sinkins.

Pinks belong to the family Carophyllaceae and the genus Dianthus, whose name originated from two Ancient Greek words: Διός  (Dios) meaning ‘of Zeus’ and  ἀνθός  (anthos)  meaning ‘Flower’, hence its symbolic meaning ‘Flower of the Gods’ or ‘Divine Flower’. Their naming was attributed to the Ancient Greek botanist, Theophrastus, and the flower was extensively grown by the Ancient Greeks and Ancient Romans. In the first century AD, Pliny wrote that the clove carnation was discovered in Spain in the days of Augustus Caesar, when it was used in garlands.

The genus Dianthus contains 300 species, which are mostly native to Europe and Asia (Zones 3 to 9), with a few species extending to North Africa and one species, Dianthus repens, native to arctic North America. The photo below is a pink called Coconut Sundae.BlogDianthus2518-04-10 08.50.43Common names include:

Pinks, the word deriving from the Old English pynken and referring to the fringed edges of the flowers, which look like they have been cut with pinking shears, rather than their colour, which ranges from white, pink, rose, deep red and even a lavender/purple;

Cheddar Pinks (Dianthus gratianopolitanus), after the Cheddar Gorge, England, where pinks have naturalized;

Chinese Pinks or Chinnies (Dianthus chinensis), a low-growing annual, 6 inches high, which has deeply fringed, single scented flowers, which bloom for longer than biennial or perennial pinks;

Clove Pinks, due to the scent; and the delightful name,

Gillyflowers, again due to the scent, their name being a corruption of  ‘le giroflier’, which is the French name for the Clove Tree (Syzgium aromaticum).

Popular in Medieval times for flavouring mulled wines and during the Tudor Period (1485-1603), Dianthus have been extensively bred and hybridized since 1717 to produce thousands of cultivars for use in the garden and floristry, with a wide variety of sizes; shapes; patterns and markings; and colours and shades from white to pink, salmon, yellow and red. Carnations with coloured stripes were very popular in the 17th century, but were soon supplanted by those with different coloured spots, which were called piquettes.

Today, there are more than 30,000 cultivar names registered on the International Dianthus Register, but many of these lasted commercially for only a short time. See: https://www.rhs.org.uk/plants/plantsmanship/plant-registration/dianthus-cultivar-registration and https://www.rhs.org.uk/plants/pdfs/plant-register-supplements/dianthus/dianthus32nd.pdf.

They include:

Bizarres (clear ground, marked and flaked with 2 or 3 colours, and categorised according to the dominant colour);

Flakes (clear ground, flaked with one colour);

Selfs (any one shade);

Fancies (varieties not falling into the previous classes, having a yellow or white ground, or mottled, flaked or spotted with various colours) and

Picotees (colours confined to the petal margins).

Over 100 varieties of Dianthus have received the RHS Award of Garden Merit.

Most pinks are short-lived herbaceous perennials, though a few species are annuals, biennials and low sub-shrubs with woody basal stems.

The most common types are:

Carnations Dianthus carophyllus;

Sweet William Dianthus barbatus (biennial);

Perennial Pinks, Dianthus plumarius (Cottage Pinks) from Eastern Europe;

Dianthus deltoides (Maiden Pinks), native to Britain;

Dianthus gratianopolitanus (Cheddar Pinks); and

D. armeria (Grass Pinks or Deptford Pink).

Below is a photo of Valda Wyatt.BlogDianthus20%IMG_1083Description:

Pinks and Carnations

Plants: Tufting or spreading perennials, which form a rounded erect mound or trailing mat, from 6 cm (2.5 inches) to 0.9 metres (3 foot) tall, more commonly up to 0.4 metres (18 inches) high, though Sweet William is a biennial or short-lived perennial up to 60 cm (2 foot) tall. Carnations are not as hardy as their smaller cousins, but have longer stems and grow up to 2 foot high.

Foliage: Opposite; simple; mostly linear and strongly glaucous grey-green to blue-green leaves. Modern pinks have heavier, coarser leaves and stems than older varieties, whose leaves are more finely divided. Carnations have larger thicker leaves, which curl at the tip.

Mule Pinks, which are a cross between Dianthus caryophyllus (carnations) and Dianthus barbatus (Sweet William), have greener leaves, with a more erect growth habit and smaller flowers than carnations. Mule Pinks date back to around 1715 and include Emile Pare, bred in France in 1840 and Napoleon III.BlogDianthus2518-03-01 17.30.32Flowers: Single, semi-double and fully double flowers, ranging in size from less than 2.5 cm to 6.35 cm, all varieties have five petals, a frilled or pinked margins of varying depth and a strong spicy fragrance.

Species Dianthus have a limited colour range from pale to dark pink and blooms are borne singly or in small heads on the top of wiry stems from late Spring and early Summer (their peak blooming time) to Autumn and until the first frosts.

Pinks tend to have smaller, more highly fragrant, white to pink/ maroon flowers, which only flower once in early Summer, while carnation blooms are larger, less fragrant, have a larger colour range and flower perpetually.

There are three types of carnation:

Large Flowered/ Sims: One flower per stem;

Spray: Multiple smaller flowers per stem; and

Dwarf-Flowered Carnations: Several small flowers on one stem.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASweet William  Dianthus barbatus

Native to the Pyrenees and Balkan mountains, Sweet William was introduced into Northern Europe in the 16th century, growing at Hampton Court since 1533, and has become an archetypal cottage garden plant. They are easy to grow and very hardy, but do not like warm, humid Summers. A short-lived perennial, it is normally grown as a biennial, flowering in the second year from Spring to mid-Summer. If they are cut back hard after flowering, they will flower just as well the next year. Colours range from pale pink to a deep black-red. The Latin name ‘barbatus’ means ‘bearded’, referring to the markings around the entrance to the pollen that the flowers carry to entice butterflies and moths to pollinate them. To view an assortment of Sweet Williams, see: http://www.mr-fothergills.co.uk/Flower-Seed/Sweet-William-Single-Mixed.html#.WwylMYpx3IU.

Varieties of Pinks and Carnations

See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dianthus for a list of all the different species, but for gardeners, interested in growing Dianthus, especially heritage varieties, it is well worth looking at: https://www.allwoods.net/. Allwoods Nursery (London Road, Hassocks, West Sussex BN6 9NA;  Phone: 01273 844229) was started in 1910 by Montague Allwood, who crossed oldfashioned hardy clove-scented pinks D. plumarius, and perpetually flowering carnations D. caryophyllus to produce a new race of perpetually-flowering pinks with scented, double flowers, which became known as Dianthus x allwoodii, and were often given Christian names like ‘Doris‘, a salmon-pink bred in 1945. They are the leading Dianthus specialists in the world and stock over 500 different varieties of pinks and carnations, as well as pelargoniums and succulents.

Pinks are divided into four categories:

Long Flowering Garden Pinks (Allwoodii Pinks) : Repeat flowering over at least 8 weeks with a beautiful clove scent, though in some varieties, scent has been sacrificed for flower production. Most have double blooms and come in two sizes, 7.5 to 15 cm (3 to 6 inches) and 25 to 45 cm (10 to 18 inches) tall. eg the slightly perfumed Doris 1945; and  Valda Wyatt 1981.

There are some modern breeders like John Whetman from Whetman Pinks (http://www.whetmanpinks.com/), who have focused their attention on scent, for example, his Devon Cottage Series and Scent First Series, which is long-flowering and highly fragrant and includes Coconut Sundae, seen in the photo below.BlogDianthus2517-11-15 09.27.44Alpine Pinks: Mat-forming perennials, growing to 10 cm (4 inches), which make terrific ground covers, with masses of scented flowers throughout the summer. They are perfect for the rockery or alpine garden. Eg Maiden Pinks Dianthus deltoides; and Alpine Pinks D. alpinus.

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Laced Garden Pinks: Very popular in Victorian times and deservedly so! These beautiful blooms are quite stunning, having dramatic markings and lacings on the petals, a long flowering period (like the Allwoodii types) and a lovely clove scent.

During the mid-nineteenth century, the weavers of Paisley, Scotland bred Laced Pinks from Dianthus plumarius, producing over 80 new varieties, known as the Paisley Pinks. Only a few types survive.

Some of my favourite Laced Pinks include: Old Velvet https://www.allwoods.net/online-store/Old-Velvet-age-unknown-p83926316; Paisley Gem 1798 Maroon edged white, grown during the Industrial Revolution: https://www.allwoods.net/online-store/Paisley-Gem-1798-p83926296Dad’s Favourite 1800s Semi-double highly scented, white ground laced with velvety maroon. See: https://www.justplants.net/DIANTHUS_dads_favourite/p1363092_6350642.aspx; and Oxford Magic 1998 https://www.allwoods.net/online-store/Oxford-Magic-1998-p83926295. Below is a photo of Valda Wyatt.BlogDianthus2518-03-31 16.30.04-1Heritage and Old World Garden Pinks: Strongly scented evergreen perennials, which form clumps to 45 cm (1.5 feet) of blue-green foliage, with masses of flowers in early to mid summer only. Some examples include:

Mrs Sinkins, bred in 1868 and named for the breeder’s wife, it is white with a green eye;

Cheddar Pink D. gratianopolitanus, a gray-green leaved mat-forming type that blooms once a year. Highly scented, they were so popular with 19th century gardeners that they were collected nearly to extinction. See: https://www.gardenia.net/plant/Dianthus-Gratianopolitanus-Cheddar-Pink.

Carthusian Pink, Dianthus carthusianorum, found growing wild on dry limestone hillsides in southern, central and western Europe and introduced into Britain by the Carthusian monks in 1573. More like Dianthus barbatus, it has a grass-like mound of fine green leaves, tall straight stems and small, flat-headed clusters of seven or eight bright magenta, single, slightly fragrant flowers from Summer till early Autumn, followed by a decorative seedhead. It is best grown from seed. See: https://www.sarahraven.com/flowers/seeds/perennials/dianthus_carthusianorum.htm.

Caesar’s Mantle (Bloodie Pink or Abbotswood) 15th century, a deep carmine pink with a maroon central zone. Increasingly rare.

Pheasants Eye Pre 1600s Semi-double white with dark velvety maroon centre, extending in a thin line around the deeply fringed edge. https://www.selectseeds.com/old-fashioned-pinks/pink_inchmery_plants.aspx. One of the earliest cultivars still available.

Queen of Sheba Early 1600s Single white with delicately traced magenta lacing. See: http://www.sequimrareplants.com/Dianthus%20%27Queen%20of%20Sheba%27.html;

Fountains Abbey Early 1600s. Semi-double bloom similar to Queen of Sheba, but with darker crimson markings;

Sops in Wine Highly clove scented semi-double creamy white blooms with a raspberry eye. See: https://www.allwoods.net/online-store/Sops-in-Wine-age-unknown-p83926326. Please note that there is another type grown under this name and sold by many UK nurseries, which looks totally different. See: http://www.sequimrareplants.com/Dianthus%20%27Sops%20in%20Wine%27.html.

Fimbriata 17th Century Ivory double white;

Painted Lady 1700 Heavily scented compact lilac pink flowers with a deeper centre. See: https://www.allwoods.net/online-store/Painted-Lady-1700-p83926317.

Cockenzie Pink/ Montrose Pink 1720 Semi-double heavily-fringed dark carmine pink with a darker damson pink central eye. See: https://www.allwoods.net/online-store/Cockenzie-Pink-1720-p83926301;

Inchmery 1800  Shell pink flat double strongly-perfumed blooms. See: https://www.selectseeds.com/old-fashioned-pinks/pink_inchmery_plants.aspx.

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Carnations are divided  into two categories:

Border Carnations: Hardy garden carnations, which do not require a heated greenhouse. They have a wide range of colour combinations and a heady perfume, but only a short flowering season (late Spring to mid-Summer) and are no longer grown commercially.

Perpetual Flowering or Greenhouse Carnations: Often used for exhibition purposes, they are grown in greenhouses or polytunnels or outside in the Summer only. They are generally not winter hardy in the garden, as they don’t like to be too wet and cold at the same time, so it is advisable to bring them into a greenhouse or conservatory end September / October and keep over winter inside. If they are kept at 7 degrees Celsius, they will flower in winter as well as during the summer.

Most are scentless, but some of the older varieties like Malmaison carnations and other old greenhouse varieties are scented, though they flower less frequently. Malmaison carnations, which grow to 70 cm (4.5 foot), are derived from the variety ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’, and have an  intense clove fragrance.

Below is a photo of a new favourite pink in my garden: Sugar Plum, bred by Whetmans Pinks.BlogDianthus3018-04-04 13.48.26-1For Australian gardeners, read: http://www.pennywoodward.com.au/dianthus-gillyflowers-carnations-pinks-sweet-williams-picotees-selfs-and-fancies/. The main sources for Dianthus appear to be: Lambley’s Nursery, Victoria, which grows 50 different cultivars in their Dianthus Walk and is in full bloom in November. See: https://lambley.com.au/search/content/Dianthus and Woodbridge Nursery, Tasmania: https://www.woodbridgenursery.com.au/search?orderby=position&orderway=desc&search_query=Dianthus.

Dianthus seed is available from: Swallowtail Garden Seeds, United States: https://www.swallowtailgardenseeds.com/perennials/dianthus.html; and in Australia: Australian Seedshttps://australianseed.com.au/search?type=product&q=Dianthus*.

Cultivation:

Full Sun, at least 6 hours a day. Dianthus love clean air and open skies and perish in polluted conditions or when grown in the shade of overhanging trees. Scottish weavers, who bred and named 3,000 laced pinks in the 18th and 19th century, lost most of  their plants, when the air quality deteriorated in the Industrial Revolution.

Light well-drained moist soil, though they will tolerate poorer soils. Drainage is important, as they will develop stem rot in water-logged soils, so if your soil is heavy clay, they are better grown in pots or raised beds. Only water one a week at most, otherwise the foliage will yellow. Be careful with using mulch to suppress weeds and avoid crowding the crown (top of the roots) or stem rot will occur.

Soil pH: Neutral to slightly alkaline. 6.75 is ideal. Soil alkalinity can be increased with the addition of dolomitic limestone or fire ash.

Feeding: Dianthus are light feeders and only need an occasional feed (a shovel of compost in the soil once a year), as well as a light annual dressing of dolomite lime to prevent the centre of the clumps dying out. Even the perennial pinks are short-lived, so they will need renewing every 3 to 4 years. It is worth taking a few cuttings every year to ensure the survival of your plants over Winter.

Otherwise, they are very low-maintenance, only requiring deadheading after flowering to promote reblooming. There are few pests and diseases. Spider mite can be a problem during hot dry weather for Sweet William and carnations, while the latter and Dianthus chinensis and hybrids can be susceptible to thrips and aphids as well, but the old-fashioned pinks are pretty hardy and healthy.BlogDianthus2017-10-15 07.21.29Propagation:

By seed, cuttings or layering.

Cuttings: Two methods:

Pulling a leafy stem with a heel and cutting off any buds; or

Cutting a 5 to 7.5 cm non-flowering stem just below the node.

Insert the cutting into a 50/50 mix of grit and compost or sharp sand and peat or merely damp horticultural sand and place the seed tray or pot in the shade, keeping the cuttings damp.

New plants will form at six to eight weeks and can be planted out in a well-drained open position in Autumn for flowering the following season or kept in the greenhouse over Winter and planted out after the last frost.

When planting, make sure the crown (top of the root structure) is level with the soil surface and never bury any of the stems.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUses:

Garden

Low perennial borders; Potted displays; Rockeries and alpine troughs; Heirloom cottage gardens; Cutting gardens; and Butterfly and hummingbird gardens.

Dianthus are the food plants for the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, including Cabbage Moths; Double-striped Pugs; Large Yellow Underwings; and the Lychnis, as well as three species of Coleophora: C. dianthi; C. diantivora; and C. musculella, which feeds exclusively on Dianthus superbus.

They are also deer-resistant, but unfortunately not rabbit-resistant!

Floristry

Dianthus, with its naming as ‘Flower of the Gods’, has a long history of use in floristry, with carnations also known as the Flower of Love. There are around 300 species, however there are only 50 to 60 types commercially grown for cut flowers. Their flower meanings vary with colour:

Light Red: Admiration

Dark Red:  Love and Affection

White: Purity of Love and Good Luck

Pink: Gratitude

Purple: Capriciousness

Yellow Disappointment and Rejection

Striped: Regret and Refusal.

While often used for Mother’s Day and funerals, carnations have also been used for other significant days. A red carnation is a symbol of socialism and the labour movement, commonly worn at demonstrations like International Worker’s Day (May Day) and was worn in the 1974 coup d’etat of the Estado Novo regime in Portugal, while a green carnation was seen as a symbol of homosexuality in the early 20th century, but are now used for St Patrick’s Day.

These days, carnations are often grown under glass, with Colombia being the largest producer in the world.

Pinks are often used in nosegays and tussie-mussies.

When buying carnations, look for bunches with clean, undamaged petals, which are not curling inwards. Sims and sprays are sold half-open; Chinnies (D. chinensis) and Sweet William more open, the latter when one quarter to one half of the flowers are open.

Recut 2 to 3 cm from the stem ends on the diagonal just above the node, strip any leaves which would be underwater and use preservative in the vase water. They should last 2 to 3 weeks, so long as the water and preservative are changed every 3 to 4 days. Wear gloves when handling as the sap from the stem is poisonous.

To dry them, either hang the flowers in bunches or pull the petals from the flower head and spread over brown paper.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACulinary: The flowers can be used fresh in salads and desserts or candied, with or without the slightly bitter white heel of the petals removed, and as a flavouring in syrups, cordials, vinegars, liqueurs and mulled wine. In medieval times, when cloves were expensive, wines and possets were often flavoured with clove-scented gillyflowers. They can also be frozen into ice cubes and added to your favourite drink, or stirred into desserts such as fruit jellies, ice-cream, mousse, soufflés, custard and cakes. Once dried, petals can also be added to sugar to sweetly scent it.

Aromatic: The dried petals can be added to potpourris and scented laundry sachets. Flowers can also be used in perfumery. Carnation oil is used in beauty products to moisturize skin, minimize wrinkles and treat skin conditions.

Medicinal:  Carnation tea has been used to reduce stress, relieve tension and restore energy; reduce fever; and treat stomach aches, heartburn and flatulence. Chinese Pinks D. chinensis have been used in Chinese herbal medicine for over 2000 years.

I have learnt so much about pinks during my research for this post and look forward to expanding my collection! For other devotees of pinks and carnations, another wonderful site is: http://www.britishnationalcarnationsociety.co.uk.

I am finishing with my latest cushion cover design, inspired by the beautiful clove pink varieties described in this post and all available from Allwoods Nursery, except when otherwise specified. From left to right and top to bottom: Plumarius (age unknown); Sugar Plum (Whetman Pinks Scent First series); Coconut Sundae (also Whetman Pinks Scent First series); Anders Melody 2010; Gran’s Favourite 1966; Old Velvet (very old- age unknown); Dad’s Favourite 1800; Fair Folly 1700; and Kesteven Kirkstead 1988. BlogDianthus2518-04-14 12.42.10I  am giving it to my Mum for her birthday, complete with a card identifying all the different varieties depicted in their position on the cushion.BlogDianthus2016-01-01 01.00.00-14 (2)Please note that their depiction on my felt cushion were not supposed to be, and definitely are not, photographically accurate representations! The photos were more a starting point for design, hence the depiction of Plumarius and the even more absract representations of Coconut Sundae; Gran’s Favourite and Dad’s Favourite! I loved stitching their beautiful pinked forms. The only thing missing is the scent!BlogDianthus2016-01-01 01.00.00-12 (2)Next week, I am featuring my favourite calligraphy books.

Oldhouseintheshires