Carnation or “Clove Pink” (Dianthus x caryophyllus)

Carnation or 'Clove Pink' (Dianthus x caryophyllus) via cottagemagpie.com

Carnation or 'Clove Pink' (Dianthus x caryophyllus) via cottagemagpie.com

I have always always loved the smell of carnations. It’s no surprise to me that they are also called “clove pinks” because their scent is spicy and sweet like the culinary spice. It’s a distinctive smell that you never quite forget, and because of it’s use in bouquets and corsages, one that I associate with many happy memories.

As a new gardener, years ago, I was thrilled to find that many types of pinks (Dianthus) grow well in the garden, including my favorite, the carnation, or “clove pink” (Dianthus x caryophyllus). They are most commonly seen in shades of red, pink and white, but yellow varieties have been bred over the years. The blooms float above the tuft of the plant on long stalks, and as an extra bonus the blue-green foliage is evergreen.

I haven’t had any in my garden for a few years, but I couldn’t resist adding them to my pots for the summer. In fall, I’ll transplant them to a permanent spot tucked in front of one of the perennial borders.

Carnation or 'Clove Pink' (Dianthus x caryophyllus) via cottagemagpie.com

Carnation or 'Clove Pink' (Dianthus x caryophyllus) via cottagemagpie.com

Details

  • Latin Name: Dianthus x caryophyllus
  • Common Name: Carnation or “Clove Pink”
  • USDA Zone: 6-9
  • Height: 18″-24″
  • Spread: 15″-18″
  • Bloom Time: Late Spring through mid-Summer
  • Bloom Color: Shades of red, pink, white and pale yellow
  • Foliage: Evergreen, blue-green (glaucous)
  • Exposure: Full sun
  • Water: Average water needs, do not overwater
  • NOTE: Seeds and all plant parts are poisonous if ingested. (Don’t eat the carnations!)

 

Carnation or 'Clove Pink' (Dianthus x caryophyllus) via cottagemagpie.com

In my experience, these plants can be somewhat short lived, and definitely do not like to be soggy. But they’re worth it for their long bloom time, evergreen foliage and that wonderful clove scent. I have not tried collecting seeds, but I have wanted to try that. Then you could be assured of an endless supply of pretty clove pinks.

Do you have any carnations growing in your garden?

~Angela :-)


Kwanzan Flowering Cherry (Prunus serrulata ‘Kwanzan’)

Kwanzan Flowering Cherry (Prunus serrulata) via cottagemagpie.com

Kwanzan Flowering Cherry (Prunus serrulata)  via cottagemagpie.com

Of all the flowering trees, none is as romantic as the ornamental cherry “Kwanzan,” (Prunus serrulata ‘Kwanzan’). Like many cherries, it has a lovely, graceful vase-shape form, attractive bark and good fall color, but is best known for its stunning display of showy, double pink flowers that envelop the tree in late Spring, covering the tree in what look like tiny floral dresses. After flowering is another spectacular show as millions of petals shower down from the trees in a pink, whisper-soft snowfall.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw this breathtaking tree in flower. I had rented my first ever house and knew nothing about the two trees out front except that they were enormous, nearly fifty feet tall. A friend identified them as flowering cherries, so as the rest of the neighborhood trees bloomed, I waited and waited. By the end of April, when other trees were finished and leaves began to appear, I gave up on having flowering trees.

A few warm days later, as I drove up the road to the house, I nearly wrecked my car. The two trees, which I now know were two of the largest “Kwanzan” I had ever seen, had bloomed in entirety, creating a canopy of pink frills. Later, when the bloom was finished and the snowfall of petals covered the yard in pink, I spent the entire weekend watching this unbelievable, straight-from-a-fairytale show, waiting for the elvish lady or medieval princess that was sure to appear at any moment. Those trees won my heart that year and I have loved them ever since.

I don’t currently have a Kwanzan cherry in my garden, but I hope to someday. Meanwhile, I am fortunate enough to have this beautiful specimen next door to appreciate each Spring.

Kwanzan Flowering Cherry (Prunus serrulata) via cottagemagpie.com

Kwanzan Flowering Cherry (Prunus serrulata) via cottagemagpie.com

Kwanzan Flowering Cherry (Prunus serrulata)  via cottagemagpie.com

Details

  • Latin Name: Prunus serrulata ‘Kwanzan’
  • Common Name: Kwanzan flowering cherry
  • USDA Zone: 5-9
  • Mature Height: 30′-40′
  • Mature Spread: 30′-40′
  • Bloom Time: late Spring
  • Fruit: None
  • Habit: Vase-shaped with spreading, rounded crown.
  • Growth rate: Medium
  • Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil: Tolerant of many soils, but prefers moist, well-drained soil
  • Water: Somewhat drought tolerant; should not need supplemental water once established

Kwanzan Flowering Cherry (Prunus serrulata) via cottagemagpie.com

Though the “Kwanzan” has a reputation for being easily stressed, relatively short lived and susceptible to disease, its spectacular show makes it worth these possible limitations. Crowns of this tree are very similar, making it an excellent candidate for lining walks or drives. It is also an excellent specimen tree and can be planted in containers or used for Bonsai. “Kwanzan” flowering cherry blooms in late Spring, up to two weeks later than other cherries. New leaves are bronze colored, then turn to dark green for the summer and yellow to copper in fall.

Here’s a bunch of pictures of my neighbor’s Kwanzan Cherry:

Do you have Kwanzan cherry growing in your garden?

~Angela :-)


Dear Angela: Can My Garden Shed Be Cottage-y?

Dear Angela: Can My Garden Shed Be Cottage-y? via cottagemagpie.com

Dear Angela: Can My Garden Shed Be Cottage-y? via cottagemagpie.com

Today’s “Dear Angela” letter comes from yours truly. I have been longing for summer and longing for my old English Cottage garden, and have been really struggling with how to make an impact this season since we have so much to do in the new garden. So I decided to ask myself how I might turn a neglected corner of my backyard into a cottage garden I can love. Here’s what I said:

Dear Angela,

I moved to a new home this summer, and I have set aside a back corner of the garden for a romantic cottage-style garden, but I am having trouble envisioning what I might do or how it might look. Especially with that ugly shed in the middle of it all. [Read more...]


Cottage Classics: White Picket Fence

Cottage Classics White Picket Fence via cottagemagpie.com

Cottage Classics White Picket Fence via cottagemagpie.com

Cottage gardens are romantic affairs, with blowsy perennials, free-wheeling self-seeders and rambling vines, all smothered in a confectionery of blooms. They’re lovely, and my absolute favorite type of garden, but they have one caveat. They require structures. With all those rambling, flopping, winter-dormant, laissez-faire plants you want in a cottage garden, if you don’t have structure, you have a big mess, plus nothing to look at through the off season.

This is where the fence comes in. Garden structures such as fences provide lines, support, architectural interest, “bones” as we call them, defining and focusing the cottage garden. They often add to its utility, since at it’s heart, the cottage garden springs from a history of utility, growing herbs, vegetables, fruits and medicinal plants all within a small plot.

Cottage Classics White Picket Fence via cottagemagpie.com

In the United States, the most familiar material is the classic wooden white picket fence. Whether painted or whitewashed, to many the picket fence is the epitome of the classic cottage garden. Which makes me wonder what the origin of the picket fence is. Wikipedia claims that picket fences have been used since the early 1600′s in America.

Cottage Classics White Picket Fence via cottagemagpie.com

Today, picket fences can be used in sections, such as just on either side of a garden entryway to provide form and focus to the garden entry, or, picket fences can run the entire length of the garden bed or property boundary, corralling the tumultuous plantings.

At Valentine Cottage, my previous semi-urban home, I installed white picket fences and arbors around the entire front garden. You might think that a picket fence is out of place in an urban settings, but even city dwellers appreciate the charm and reminder of more pastoral settings.

Cottage Classics White Picket Fence via cottagemagpie.com

White picket fences seem to evoke memories of a simpler time, with porch swings, fireflies and lemonade. A time when doors were left unlocked and people had time to grow and put up fruit or tomatoes in their Victory garden.

Cottage Classics White Picket Fence via cottagemagpie.com

Whether urban or rural, the low front fence is a classic garden structure and a welcome part of any cottage garden.

What about you? Do you have a picket fence in your garden?

~Angela :-)

Linking up to the Gardening Gone Wild Garden Bloggers’ Design Workshop for December: Fences and Walls.