It’s hard to believe that my favourite flowers, Dianthus superbus (aka Pinks) belong to the same family of flowers as the pink carnations that I’ve had on my dining room table for almost a month. Sometimes I have to touch them just to make sure they are real!
Why is it that we are intent on hybridizing plants so that they will bloom endlessly? In the process of creating these long-lived flowers, we often sacrifice the very qualities such as fragrance, which gives the flower its charm.
The Pinks (pictured above in my front flowerbed, summer, 2006) have the most beautiful and haunting scent of any flower I’ve encountered. The flowers are exquisite, with airy, delicately-feathered blooms in white, lavender and pale pinks. The Japanese name for this plant, Nadesiko, which means ‘pretty girl’, is an apt one.
I first happened upon this plant, about ten years’ ago, at an out-of-the-way plant vendor’s stall in Ottawa’s Byward Market. I would have overlooked it, except that a vase of its stunning flowers caught my eye. It was truly love at first sight and scent.
I grew this plant in my front flower garden and on warm summer nights would drift off to sleep with the flowers’ scent wafting through the open second-floor bedroom window. Over the years, I have searched high and low for this plant. Luckily seeds are available through Thompson & Morgan and are easy to grow. I am baffled though, by how rarely this particular Pink, Dianthus superbus, is grown in North America.
I imagine, though, we will continue to see the development of ever longer-flowering and more oddly-coloured, genetically-modified Pinks (which we are assured can only theoretically hybridize with other Pinks). Meanwhile, I think I’ll be content to enjoy growing Dianthus superbus and simply enjoy it for the time it is in bloom.