Saturday, 14 July 2018

Dianthus - Pinks

Old-fashioned garden pinks were the first choice for perfume for many cottage garden lovers. John Parkinson, a 17th-centruy author of the first illustrated book on ornamental plants, could hardly find the words to express his admiration:

"What shall I say to the Queen of delight and of flowers, Carnations and Gillyflowers, whose bravery, variety and sweet smell, tyeth every one’s affection?”

Gillyflower is the old name for members of the Dianthus family, driven from the French giro flier - a clove tree. Many of the old-fashioned pinks were clove scented, the famous ‘sops-in-wine’ variety, which has single, maroon flowers with white markings, was grown around taverns and alehouses so that the petals could be used to flavour the liquor.

Pinks are still the favourites of most cottage gardeners, and few plants have their qualities of ‘bravery’ (hardiness), compactness, perfume, and show of pretty flowers from early to midsummer. Set out new plants in spring, 12 in (30cm) apart, and water them well. Pinks like a sunny position in well-drained soil, and will benefit rom a top dressing of gravel to prevent the bases of the plants from coming into contact with damp soil. You can take cuttings after the flowers have finished - choose strong shoots and cut them off close to the main stem. In late summer, remove the old flower stems and apply a high-potash fertiliser.

A traditional recipe for Pinks potpourri:

1 cup rose petals
1/2 cup petals from pinks
1/4 cup each of marjoram and rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon ground cloves. 
Mix thoroughly and place in china bowls or specially made potpourri containers.  

I hope everyone is having a good day or evening where ever you are.


  1. I should have plenty of rose petals soon Shiralee. Well I hope so anyway. Love the colour of the Dianthus. So vibrant.

  2. Beautiful! We can't grow them here much - too hot! It's 109 today!
    Hope yall are having a nice winter - wish I was there!