Carnations and Pinks

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9781552975534: Carnations and Pinks
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In Carnations and Pinks authors Pamela McGeorge and Keith Hammett provide gardeners with a comprehensive guide to growing and enjoying the genus Dianthus. This book includes:

  • history and outline of the genus
  • Dianthus species
  • planting ideas
  • displaying carnations indoors
  • advice on cultivation, propagation and hybridizing
  • remedies for pests, diseases and disorders
  • beautiful full color photographs

The authors include information on the newest cultivars and the people who developed them, along with dozens of recommendations of their favorite carnations and pinks for all growing conditions. Also included are nursery sources, a bibliography, hardiness zones and a full index.

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About the Author:

Pamela McGeorge is a freelance writer and magazine editor with a passionate interest in gardening. Her own garden features many Dianthus, which thrive in the hot dry conditions.

Keith Hammett is a widely recognized breeder of ornamental plants, including Dianthus, sweet peas and dahlias. Keith's compact, repeat-flowering pinks are now widely grown in North America, the U.K. and Australasia.

Russell McGeorge has been a photographer for 25 years, and specializes in garden photography and landscapes.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Introduction

Early summer. A warm, calm evening and the air is redolent with the sweet, spicy perfume of pinks. Dianthus grow in my garden where the climate is Mediterranean-hot and dry in summer, frosty cold in winter. The soil is gravelly and huge chunks of schist add impressive character to the landscape. Dianthus love it. They grow wild among the rough stones; they tumble down rock walls; they thrive alongside sage and thyme and their blue-gray-silver foliage shimmers in the heat of midday. I love them for their variety, for their limitless shades of pink, and above all for their timeless perfume that stirs the senses and creates links between gardeners in other times and other places. For carnations and pinks, both members of the Dianthus family, are flowers that our grandmothers grew, that gardeners in the western world have cherished for centuries.

As early as the 1500s, enthusiastic growers in Europe collected dianthus. They bred them, traded them, painted them and wrote about them. The plants traveled. Adventurers, out to conquer new worlds, brought back "new" species from Asia. Colonists introduced them to the New World. The gene pool grew and the quest continued. Enthusiasts were forever seeking yet a newer variety, yet another color combination. Artisans bred them to exhibit at shows, where the flowers had to meet rigorous standards. Growers with an eye for commercial possibilities developed the genus to produce the quintessential flower for floral display.

Until this century, the history of carnations and pinks has been intertwined with social customs of the day. As they followed the roller coaster of fashion, new varieties emerged, old ones were lost and even many of the species have been submerged in the confusion of multiple varieties that are often very similar.

With a genus so variable, it is important that distinct characteristics should be preserved even while new attributes are sought. This is the task of dianthus breeders today. One is Dr. Keith Hammett, who has filled the role of specialist consultant for this book and contributed the chapter on hybridizing. He fell in love with carnations as a young boy in England where he exhibited flowers he had raised himself. As a young man he made his home in New Zealand and has since become world-renowned as a plant breeder. Dianthus has been one of his specialties for several decades; first, he worked with border carnations, more recently, with garden pinks. He has been in the forefront of the recent research aimed at producing a yellow, flowering dianthus with attractive blooms and a tidy garden habit. He continues to hybridize, following a breeding program to develop new plants with repeat-flowering ability, distinct patterns and interesting color.

When you go to this breeder's garden, you see row after long row of carefully cultivated dianthus, each slightly different, each in the process of being carefully assessed for its future as a marketable garden plant. Some of these dianthus are covered in blooms. I covet them, but Keith warns me this is only their first year. Wait and see, he cautions -- wait and see what next year brings.

Today, carnations are predominantly flowers for professional florists; the pinks. in their ever-changing variety, are the flowers that gardeners love. Their combined story is a fascinating one. In the following pages we bring you the history of these plants, details of their progression over the years and new information about recent cultivars and the people who have developed them. We talk about how to grow them and suggest ideas for using them in your garden.

Popular cultivars mentioned in the book were available at the time of writing, but many are ephemeral. We suggest you consider color and patterning, as well as the size and habit of the variety, when deciding on the planting scheme for your garden, then consult nurseries and seed sellers for details about the dianthus they are offering at any particular time, and match them to your wants.

Plant them, admire them and enjoy their perfume.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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