Wednesday, May 21, 2008

In the pinks

One of the flowers that caught my eye (and nose) at Chelsea were the pinks, or dianthus, on the Whetman Pinks stand. I used to grow pinks in my last garden, which was more of a traditional English plot. However, my new garden is much more jungly and there didn't really seem to be a place for them. I love pinks. They look so pretty, like little girls in starched cotton frocks, and they smell gorgeous with that clovey, spicy fragrance. They're very undemanding: all they need is a well-drained site, with lots of sun, and they'll grow happily in a pot too. It's a good idea to add a bit of fine grit or sand if you're growing them in a pot to make sure they don't sit in the damp for too long. Carolyn Whetman, who breeds and propagates them, is keen to bring them to a wider audience and I have to say she revived my interest. She had them in modern, shiny black pots, which looked terrific, and it made me realise that, while my back garden isn't really suitable, the front garden is ideal, as it has gravel and is fairly sunny. What could be nicer than a fringe of pinks to greet visitors with that knock-out scent?
Add them to a herb patch, or as a border to an allotment (dianthus is a traditional herbal remedy for heart trouble, thought I don't advise self-medication!) or just put some in a pot on a patio or balcony. Carolyn also advises deadheading regularly to keep the flowers coming. The only trouble is this: which one to choose? I loved 'Starlight' (right) and I've grown 'India Star' (above) in pots. But there are so many others...
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