DIANTHUS Rockery Pink

The dwarf cousins of the Border Pink, Carnation and Sweet William are planted in rockeries to form either neat cushions or spreading carpets of grey or green grassy leaves. The foliage is studded in early summer with sweet-smelling flowers-pink is the usual colour but other shades are available. There is even a yellow Rockery Pink – D. knappii. As a general rule the Rockery Pinks are lime lovers and clay haters, flourishing in a sunny, open situation. They have many uses – covering walls, filling troughs, decorating crazy paving as weil as adorning the rock garden. The species can be raised from seed but the named varieties must be propagated from cuttings.

VARIETIES: Our native Maiden Pink (D. deltoides) is an old favourite. It is a carpeting plant – height 6 in., spread 9 in.

Flowering period: June-September. The flowers are white, pink or red – for maximum colour choose the brilliant crimson variety ‘Flashing Light’. Another popular species is the Cheddar Pink (D. caesius), which has now been given the tongue-twisting name of D. gratianopolitanus. This is the wide-spreading carpeter of the group – height 8 in., spread 2 ft.

Flowering period: May-July. The foliage is narrow and grey. For large flowers, choose the Alpine Pink (D. alpinus). Although the blooms are more than 1 in. across, the compact cushion of foliage is small – height 4 in., spread 6 in.

Flowering period: May-August. A beautiful plant, but it rapidly dies out if the drainage is not perfect. D. neglectus forms a neat cushion 6 in. high and 6 in. across, bearing flowers in July and August. It is an oddity – this Dianthus hates lime and the petals are pink or crimson above with a biscuit-coloured reverse.

SITE AND SOIL: Thrives in light, chalky soil in full sun.

PROPAGATION: Sow seeds under glass in spring or plant non-flowering cuttings in a cold frame in summer.

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