Northern Shade Gardening

Fragrant Dianthus

Tuesday, July 29, 2008 Category: Perennials

Dianthus caryophyllus ‘Grenadin’ (carnations) have a wonderful scent that floats on the breeze around the garden right now. These are good-looking perennials with vivid blooms, and attractive grassy foliage.

dianthus caryophyllus grenadin (carnations)The carnations get a part shade site, with more sun than shade, but still they lean a bit, and would probably appreciate even more light. One maple tree branch has grown, and casts more of a shadow over this bed this year. I’m going to have to cut the branch back. These perennials like it sunny. Despite the partial shade, they are being good sports, and are covered in blooms.

Carnatons have a memorable fragrance. Even a half dozen plants are enough to send their perfume over this section of the garden. In early summer I was disappointed when my peonies finished blooming, thinking that the last of my favourite scented flowers were finished. However, the Dianthus are blooming now, and they provide their own sensory delight. Their delightful scent is as intense as their blossom colour.

The flowers of these Dianthus caryophyllus are a rich dark pink. The colour is so vivid, that I had trouble getting good pictures of these plants. My unaltered photos kept looking like I had turned the saturation up to a surreal setting in a photo editor. I’ve actually been taking shots of them for a couple of weeks, in different lighting, but these were the most natural looking I could take.  Most of my photos gave them an unnatural day-glo look, not like the real blooms. I have some carnations that are extra puffy doubles, like the ones below, and some that appear semi-double like the ones above.

Dianthus caryophyllus \'Grenadin\' (carnations)
The leaves of D. caryophyllus are long and very narrow with a bluish grey colour. The foliage makes a nice contrast to other solid green leaf tones and more rounded shaped leaves. Although when the flowers start to bloom, the foliage is not nearly as noticeable.

These perennials fade out after 2 or 3 years in my garden, so I divide them or plant new ones every few years. It’s not so much the cold, as they are just naturally shorter lived plants. You could also take cuttings to keep them going. They will not grace the garden with permanence like the peony that grows behind them, but I admire their splendid flowers and perfume.

You can read about some more fragrant plants in an earlier post. There are some photos and information about these pink carnations combined with some blue bellflowers in this post.

Perennial carnations are an old fashioned plant that have many good qualities. They have a pleasing fragrance, pretty flowers, and slender grey toned leaves. I used to grow Dianthus plumarius (cottage pinks) too, but the last ones died out now. Do you grow any types of Dianthus?

14 Responses to “Fragrant Dianthus” »

  1. perennialgardenlover :
    July 29, 2008 at 7:40 am

    I love these Dianthus “carnations”. I’ve grown them before and they smell wonderful. Dianthus in general are a great perennial in my garden. They love the cooler springs and fall.

  2. Mother Nature :
    July 29, 2008 at 8:23 am

    I was just looking over your blog and it is fun to see these flowers. It is like having spring all over again. They are long gone from my garden blooming back in April or May. Thanks for extending the season.
    Donna

  3. Northern Shade :
    July 29, 2008 at 11:03 am

    Perennial garden lover, do the same ones rest over the summer and rebloom in the fall, or do different types bloom in the fall for you?

    Donna, I’m glad these flower in summer in my garden, since my spring scented flowers are gone, and I don’t really have any other flowers with such a strong fragrance for the rest of the season.

  4. Anonymous :
    July 29, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    Ohhhh, these remind me of my childhood! I remember the wonderful fragrance…could almost smell your pictures they were so good!!

  5. Philip :
    July 29, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    These are terrific for cutting and fragrance. I love your plant selections and site.
    Best,
    Philip

  6. Northern Shade :
    July 29, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    Meadowviewthymes, scent is a powerful memory trigger, isn’t it? It’s probably why some of the old fashioned fragrant plants, like lilac and peony are so beloved.

    Philip, thanks. They do make a great cut flower.

  7. jen :
    July 29, 2008 at 10:15 pm

    Those are the first flower I remember from my childhood. I was very young. Probably only 3 or 4, and I remember my Mom picking them for me to smell. She always had them in her gardens, and I still love them.
    Jen

  8. Northern Shade :
    July 30, 2008 at 10:22 am

    Jen, there are so many layers in a garden, the sights, the scents, the memories and the feelings. I like when gardening connects me to another place and time.

  9. Gail :
    July 31, 2008 at 6:45 am

    I loved your response to Jen…I read that we all have a garden imprinted and we recreate parts of it when we garden. I can see that I have, especially with fragrance and the plants I choose.

    I love the clove scent of the dianthus but it doesn’t last beyond a season in my winter wet garden.

  10. Northern Shade :
    July 31, 2008 at 11:22 am

    Gail, I grew up in a humid zone 7 area, and I do tend towards plants that look like they’re from a warmer, wetter environment. I also have a fondness for plants that remind me of my father’s garden.

  11. Pomona :
    August 1, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    I’m impressed that you were able to get these to flower so well in shade. In my past semi-shaded gardens, I was always so disappointed because I could never get dianthus to bloom. Like everyone else here, I love the scent of the older varieties, as well as their colors and shapes.

    Did you grow yours from seed, or plants?

  12. Northern Shade :
    August 1, 2008 at 6:43 pm

    Pomona, I grew these from small plants, some planted 2 years ago and some planted last summer, all of which are still here. I had some growing here previously from 5 and 6 years ago that died out. I also used to have some D. plumarius next to this clump, but they are now gone.
    The area might get around 3 hours of sun or so, with some dappled light too. I’ve been pleased with the number of blooms they’ve had this summer.

  13. kerri :
    August 9, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    Thanks for visiting. It was nice to hear from you.
    Some of those lily/perennial combinations you mentioned were just happy accidents :)
    Carnations are another flower that reminds me of my mother. I grew them once, years ago, but haven’t had them since. I never see them available in nurseries, just the pinks.
    That’s a beautiful color. I know what you mean..it’s a hard color to photograph.
    You have some really beautiful campanulas. I absolutely love that double, and the little stars are such a pretty, bright blue.

  14. Northern Shade :
    August 9, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    Kerri, isn’t it interesting how a flower, like the carnation, can connect us to a person or place, and recreate memories for us?
    The stars on the blue waterfall bellflower last a long time, right up past the first light frosts. In July, some of the plants had around a hundred flowers on them. Although they have fewer now, they’re still showy.

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