Gorgeous Kinds for Borders and Rock Gardens (Dianth'us)
This important group of hardy plants includes all the Pinks and Carnations as well as the Sweet William and furnishes many delightful garden flowers. Dianthus belongs to the family Caryophyllaceae. The name is derived from dios,divine, and anthos, a flower; the name is said to have been given by Theophrastus because of the charm and fragrance of the flowers.
The several types of plants belonging to this group or genus are found wild in various parts of the world. Dianthus Caryophyllus, from which the Carnation is descended, is a native of southern Europe. Dianthus barbatus, the Sweet William, grows wild in the Mediterranean region. Dianthus chinensis, the plant from which the showy varieties of Indian and Chinese Pinks, so popular for summer flower beds, are descended, is a native of China. The Alpine Pinks, which are grown in the rock garden, are found wild chiefly on the European Alps. In this work the cultivation of the various types is dealt with separately under their respective headings. See Carnations; Pinks; Sweet Williams.
Alpine or Rock Pinks. Many of the species of Dianthus from the alpine regions are delightful free-blooming plants for the rock garden, and the most vigorous of them are suitable for planting along the front of a flower border. They need a position fully exposed to the sunshine, and most of them flourish in well-drained gritty or sandy soil containing lime. They are not happy in ill-drained heavy ground or in a shady place. Some Alpine Pinks are more difficult to manage than others, and they can conveniently be separated into two groups—those which offer no difficulty if planted in well-drained or light soil, and others which need rather special treatment. All may be planted in autumn or spring. The Alpine Pinks thrive in the crevices of a dry wall, and the most difficult of them should be tried in a moraine or scree bed.
The following rock garden Pinks are the easiest to manage. The most popular is Dianthus gratianopolitanus, the Cheddar Pink. It is a charming little tufted plant, 6 in. or so high, and bears a profusion of rose-colored blooms. There are varieties having flowers of different shades of rose and rose crimson.
Dianthus arenarius, the sand-loving Pink, 6 in., bears white flowers marked with carmine or purplish. Dianthus deltoides, the Maiden Pink, is a plant of low or trailing growth with small rose-pink blooms. There are several distinct varieties of it, notably Brilliant, bright rose; albus, white; superbus, purple-red; and Wisley variety, red with purple eye.
Dianthus graniticus is similar to the Maiden Pink but has larger flowers and is not of such compact growth. Dianthus fragrans bears white, sweetly scented flowers; Dianthus petraeus (Kitaibelii) has rose-colored blooms; has narrow leaves and bears small white flowers; the Fringed Pink, Dianthus superbus, grows 31 in. high and yields a profusion of fairly large, fringed, sweetly scented flowers in white and various shades of rose.
Then there are the varieties of Dianthus plumarius, the common Cottage Pink, which grow 10-12 in. high and bear flowers of various coloring. These are more vigorous than most of the others, but are very beautiful when massed on the higher parts of the rock garden. The double-flowered hybrid Pinks are not usually long lived, and must be propagated by cuttings. The finest variety is one named Napoleon III, which has rich crimson blooms.
For the Moraine. The following miniature Pinks are beautiful little plants which are suitable for the moraine or scree, or for the rock garden if planted in the soil recommended.
The Alpine Pink, Dianthus alpinus, is a small plant with comparatively large, bright rose-colored blooms which are very beautiful. A well-drained soil consisting of loam with limestone chips added very freely suits it. It is happy in a slightly less sunny place than most other Pinks. Dianthus callizonus, quite a small plant, bears brilliantly colored blooms of carmine crimson: it is most likely to flourish in a mixture of loamy soil with which grit, sand and a few stones have been mixed, but it is not usually long-lived. Dianthus glacialis is a little plant which bears rose-colored blooms of comparatively large size. It should be planted in the moraine or in very gritty soil composed of loam and noncalcareous stone chips in a position which is shaded during the hottest part of the day.
Dianthus neglectus has narrow, almost grass like leaves, stems 4-5 in. high and blooms of shades of rose or carmine. This will flourish in the moraine or in gritty loamy soil and peat in the rock garden.
Others are Dianthus sylvestris and Dianthus microlepis, both with rose-colored blooms, and which should be planted in a moraine or scree, or in a compost of loam and stone chips.
Dianthus Sweet Wivelsfield This hardy annual is a hybrid obtained by crossbreeding between Dianthus Allwoodii and the Sweet William. It produces large trusses of flowers in a lovely range of colors, their centers zoned in a darker shade. The habit of growth is bushy, yet free and graceful, rising to about 12 in. It has become popular in all parts of the world where the Dianthus can be grown. There is a double strain of Sweet Wivelsfield identical in all respects with its parent except that it has a fully double flower. Both the singleand double-flowered Sweet Wivelsfields come true from seed, and are easy to raise, and flower the first year.
Dianthus Sweetness, a fairly recent introduction, produces abundant trusses of bloom in shades ranging from crimson to white, flesh pink to deep salmon, scarlet to ruby red—almost all colors except yellow. The plants grow from 9 to 18 in. high and are easily raised from seed. It is an annual with a long flowering period.
Dianthus latifolius Hybrids. This group of hybrid Dianthus includes a number of attractive easily grown kinds that are well suited for planting at the front of a sunny border and in rock gardens. They grow 6-9 in. tall and bloom throughout the summer and thrive in any ordinary soil that is well drained. They are easily propagated by cuttings in a cold frame in late spring or early summer. Best-known varieties are Beatrix (sometimes misspelled Beatrice) with double, clear pink flowers and Silver Mine, similar but with pure white flowers.
Dianthus Allwoodii is a name given to a hybrid race of plants that originated in England as crosses between a garden variety of Carnation and Dianthus plumarius. The hybrid progeny are very variable in color, height and other characteristics. A number of low-growing, free-flowering selections have been given varietal names. They require the same cultivation as garden Pinks.