Dance of the Dianthus
Now is the beginning of the season of the dianthus dance here at the Faire Garden. Dianthus gratianopolitanus, the cheddar pinks, have been spread hither and yon to line the step stone pathways in the middle tier of the big hill behind the main house. They were chosen for their ease of care, evergreen silver leaves, pink spring flowers and beguiling scent. They are low growers, perfect as an edging along walkways.
We started several years ago with six pots of D. ‘Bath’s Pink’ to line the highest set of steps going up to the knot garden and shed area. This plant has very pale pink petals with a darker pink ring in the center of the star shaped flower. The edges of the petals are very ragged, as though they had been trimmed with pinking shears. The name for pinking shears comes from the dianthus’ pink flower edge, according to wikipedia.
We next added six more pots to the lower set of steps of D. Firewitch, a darker pink with smaller, more round flowers and bluer and more compact evergreen foliage. The ajuga along that group of steps has been quite the bully with this group of plants, completely covering the blue gray foliage with their searching offsets. The decision was made to leave some of the dianthus in place along the steps, but moved farther in toward the middle of the beds. The most threatened Firewitches were moved to the pathway that intersects the steps at a ninety degree angle in the middle. Over a period of several years, isn’t that the way gardening is, the dianthus has now nearly filled in the middle terrace pathway.
The Bath’s Pink is extremely vigorous and that has allowed for many cuttings to be spread wherever needed to stabilize the hill, provide winter interest and add spring color. I mustn’t forget to remind the reader of the luscious fragrance also. In the beginning , the flowers were deadheaded for neatness’ sake. One year the garden had to fend for itself while the offspring’s offspring needed our services to care for him while he was so young and mom had to return to work. That year the seedheads were allowed to stay on the plants and a new era of dianthus was begun. The pollinators were indiscriminate while doing their duty, and landed on Bath’s Pink and Firewitch paying no heed to dark pink or light pink differences.
A ceremony was performed by the minister of the garden to bless any offspring produced by these happy couples. Many and varied offspring have resulted. The middle terrace is now filled with a delightful mixture of dark and light pinks, center rings and ragged edges. The slight difference between their foliage is undiscernable to these eyes. Only in bloom does the uniqueness of each plant show itself.
This is a fine example of careful breeding, not! This is a fine example of nature performing her miracle of pollination, aided by the bees and butterflies. The dark color of Firewitch, the larger star shaped flower, dark center and ragged edge of Bath’s Pink make this offspring exceptional.
While shooting photos for this post, a closer look was taken at the flower structure. While shooting photos of the dianthus, it was noted that it is nearly impossible to get a sharp picture of Bath’s Pink. The light pink color and tissue weight petals that move in the slightest of breezes made for less than ideal photos. The flower children with the lighter color traits are many, but cannot be shown to you due to the above technical diffficulties.
This is a good example of the changes that have taken place from the appearance of the parents in the flower. Very attractive in form and color.
With a slightly bluish tint, no dark center and plenty of zig zag to the edges, this one is nice too.
Here the difference has occurred to the center ring. It is more pronounced and larger.
Very, very many photos were taken to try and capture the beauty of the new color combinations created by Mr. and Mrs. Firewitch-Bath’s Pink’s dance. These are the best of the lot, portraying the beauty of the product of their tango.