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  • Dianthus

    (Pink, Sweet william, Carnation)
    Caryophyllaceae

    The commonly encountered garden varieties are European plants of garden antiquity grown for their attractive, often perfumed, flowers which pick well. They are on the whole easily grown but demand excellent drainage and plenty of sun and are ideally suited to poor, dryer, well drained, alkaline soils. They are often encountered overgrown and root bound, tucked away in the shade, to which they are intolerant, and once purchased are good naturedly smothered with too much "good" garden practice.


    Pinks are known to all by name, which they lent to the colour, if not in person. Classic perennials of English cottage gardens. They have extensive root systems and most varieties offered are quite hardy in Perth with a good drink once a week over summer. They invariably have narrow, glaucous foliage resistant to dry air and high light intensity.

    Sweet williams (Dianthus barbatus) are biennials that will often persist for several years and typically have tall stems bearing clusters of small fringed flowers. They have broader leaves and require a bit softer conditions than the Pinks. The Nigrescens group seem the hardiest of the bunch and can become quite shrubby, potted colour varieties, often sold by the punnet, are worth growing but usually amount to little more than tender annuals.

    Carnations (Dianthus caryophyllus). Those developed for the cut flower market are mostly ugly plants needing support and are best left to the dedicated enthusiast or florist. Better garden plants are the seldom seen border carnations, they have the same beautiful flowers of the florist types but are less gawky, don't need staking, are often perfumed and are almost as hardy as the pinks.
    • freynii   CAG03049
      Height15cm
      Width30cm
      Flowering SeasonSpring
      WaterM - L
      LightFull Sun
      Dianthus freynii
      for $7.00earn 35 points

      The best of the bun forming Pinks here (Perth), making a mound of short, waxy, blue-green leaves held in tightly packed rosettes each producing a candy pink flower larger than itself (1.5cm) to obscure the entire plant in spring.

      Amazing as a specimen or planted through rocks, cracks in paving or retaining walls. Some other alpine types would make suitable companions, as long as they don't touch, along with diminutive Oenothera perennis and Scutellaria indica var. parvifolia. It's tempting to make an entire bun garden but it is a growth habit that is just too rare at this point, being largely restricted to cooler climates, though the dark Limonium minutum is another exception, most of the succulent candidates either can't handle our light intensity or fall apart too quickly, there are quite a few native plants with potential that are almost unobtanium.

      From the Dinaric Alps an so strictly for well drained sunny soil but also for a deep pot. Trim off the spent flowers as needed to maintain perfection.

    • freynii ‘Quark’   CAG03177
      Height15cm
      Width30cm
      Flowering SeasonSpring
      WaterM - L
      LightFull Sun
      Dianthus freynii ‘Quark’
      for $7.00earn 35 points

      A white flowered cultivar of this Croatian species with tightly packed rosettes of pointed, blue-green waxy leaves make a ground hugging mound that smothers itself in spring with 1.5cm pure white, lightly fringed, five petalled flowers. Very popular with succulent collectors.

      Allow it to mould itself around rocks in the garden or path, or let it spill from a wall crevice for best effect. Of course there is nothing stopping you mass planting a selection of Pinks for a stunning carpet garden.

      Strictly for well drained sunny soil though it'll make a fine specimen for the show bench if grown in a deep pot.

  • Silene
    • uniflora ‘Robin Whitebreast’   CAG00813

      (Sea Campion)
      Height5cm
      Width30cm
      Flowering SeasonSp - Su
      WaterM - L
      LightSun
      for $7.00earn 35 points

      A true garden treasure from the coastlines of Europe.

      From a flat carpet of waxy, blue green, spoon shaped leaves grow impossibly large, fully double, pure white flowers, strongly perfumed with a beautiful sweet musk, weighing down slender stems to hang gracefully or lie face up on the ground.

      At it's best with plenty of sun in lean, preferably alkaline, well drained soil where it can drape over walls, across paths or between rocks with the addition of a few small Dianthus for a water efficient rock garden.

  • Artemisia
    • genipi   CAG01739
      Height5cm
      Width20cm
      Flowering SeasonSp - Su
      WaterM - L
      LightSun
      CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE

      A diminutive wormwood from the Alps for tucking into crevices in walls and paths or as a companion for low growing Pinks and choice small bulbs, ideally close at hand for convenient petting, releasing its delightful aroma, and picking for home made aperitifs.

      Forming a charming ground hugging mat of soft, winter deciduous, tiny, divided, silver leaves with small panicles of irrelevant, pale yellow flowers in early summer.

      Strictly for very well drained soil and requiring little water.

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