Pink Saturday - Beverly at the blog "How Sweet the Sound" hosts Pink Saturday. Let the color pink inspire you!
We call them "pinks" - these bright, intricate, cheerful flowers. A nice homey name for a humble cottage-garden flower. But their botanical name grants them an uncommon nobility. The name Dianthus comes from the Greek "dios" - meaning God - and "anthos" - flower. What did this pretty little flower do to earn the name of Flower of the Gods?
Perhaps it was the heavenly scent. Dianthus caryophyllus is the species ancestor of the familiar carnation, with its spicy clove scent. The Crusaders brought them to France and then to England, where they were called "gillyflowers" - a corruption of caryophyllus - and "sops in wine" because the blooms were used to flavor wine.
Dianthus plumarius is the hardy perennial garden pink, and Dianthus chinensis is the annual pink. Other commonly grown pinks are small rockery alpine plants, and the bunch-flowered biennial Sweet William, or Dianthus barbatus.
Dianthus flowers come in a range of colors from pure white to deepest purple, with a few yellow species, which can be bred to introduce salmon, orange, and coral colors. Their petals can be solid or can be intricately marked, with brushmarks of color, speckles, stripes, tipped edges called "picotees" or broad bars called "flakes." Some have just a ring of different color at the center, called an "eye." Others are called "laced" for markings that have almost a doily-like effect.
Dianthus are easily propagated from seed, and because they hybridize across species, the variations can be fascinating. They can also be propagated vegetatively from cuttings or division, so once you find an interesting variety, you can keep growing it and share it with other gardeners.
Because of this, there are many varieties grown today that were named decades, even centuries ago. Some English named varieties date from the 17th century.
I love the stripings, brush marks and speckles patterned on the petals of these China pinks. These easy annuals can be grown in mild southern winters as pretty container plants.
The characteristic all pinks have in common is - their PINKS. The verb "to pink" dates from the 14th century, and it means "to decorate with a perforated pattern."
Members of the genus Dianthus feature petals that are notched, frilled, jagged and sawtoothed just as if they'd been cut out with pinking shears.
In fact, the color PINK was actually named after Dianthuses - not the other way around!
Something to think about on a Pink Saturday.