Shades of divine inspiration

Dianthus
Dianthus
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Everybody likes something for nothing, so now’s your chance to get a load more plants for the garden – for free.

The plants in question are pinks (dianthus) and now’s the ideal time to increase their numbers by taking cuttings of young shoots which have three or four pairs of mature leaves.

Pull off the lower pair of leaves and cut through with a sharp knife right below the joint. Insert the cuttings into well-packed sand in a cold frame and give them a light watering to settle them.

The frame should be in a cool, shady place and be kept closed until they’ve formed roots.

Alternatively, if you can’t be bothered with all that, simply pull off a section of plant, remove the bottom few leaves, and stick the bare stem into a pot of compost with a bit of added grit.

Keep it out of direct sun and more times than not, the cutting will root.

The Dianthus family was known as early as 300BC.

The genus was given the name from the Greek dios which means divine, and anthos meaning a flower. And the Greeks got it right; dianthus are divine flowers.

These traditional cottage garden flowers, much smaller than their relative, the carnation, fell out of fashion in the early 1990s, when many British growers couldn’t afford to keep producing them for the money the flower was commanding.

Now, however, sales of British blooms are up as much as 30 per cent year on year. And it’s not that surprising because when you have a vase of pinks, you’ll want the flowers themselves, growing out in the garden.

They’re easy to grow and propagate. They have their likes and dislikes, but they seem to be able to put up with much of what Nature has to throw at them.

Ideally, they love sunshine and a deep, crumbly, loam soil is the best for them, but if you can’t give them that, it doesn’t really matter as long as it’s not waterlogged.

They are tough little things. As long as the soil isn’t acidic, they will be fine, and if in doubt, add a touch of lime.

The saying “sweet smell of success” could have been coined for them. Don’t just take my word for it – grow some yourself and see.