Carnations, Pinks, or Gilliflowers All Smell as Sweet

This scentless peony is enhanced by the fragrance of Dianthus.
What's the point of growing a carnation if it isn’t fragrant? I’m just sayin’… There is something to be said for the deeply-colored annual varieties, planted on their color and form merit. But if you haven't tried an old-fashioned "gilliflower," you're missing out on one of the best scents you can lay your nose on.

Alfred H. Hyatt writes in his 1901 book, From a Middlesex Garden
“Here pinks with spices in their throats nod by the bitter marigold…”
Dianthus 'Qeeen of Sheba'
I believe it is its spiciness that gives Dianthus a leg up on the other flowers. Often described as clove-scented, it us more like clove with perhaps a hint of pure sweetness, if that could be considered a fragrance.
Its complex scent and simple flower shape have assured its place in today's gardens. After all, the varieties still offered as the most heavenly scented have been around since the 16th century. But they seem to have fallen out of favor since the first half of the 20th century. 
In her 1932 book, The Fragrant Path, Louise Beebe Wilder writes, “Their modest beauty makes for informality, their fragrance reaches the heart, as well as the nose.”

I can’t wait to see the first bloom on ‘Mrs. Sinkins’, which Wilder calls
 “a fat and sweet-smelling dame … so beruffled that she more often than not manages to burst her ‘impalement,’ thus quite losing countenance.”

But ‘Mrs. Sinkins’ has narry a bud. Luckily, ‘Queen of Sheba’, another older variety (and here, I’m talking the 16th century), has opened one flower that is much more fragrant than its size would indicate. Both of these Dianthus varieties were purchased from Goodwin Creek Gardens just this spring and were too small to bloom when I planted them in my Earth Box along with three varieties of Lavender.
A slightly closer look at the unknown, yet vigorous and fragrant Dianthus in my garden.

Most Dianthus are short-lived in my garden, but I'll never be without them. There is one that I've been growing in the same spot for at least eight years. Some of those years it's flush with blooms while in others it's riddled with dead spots. I wish I could remember its name. My brother-in-law tells me he has the same one and that we'd purchased them at the same time from a nursery in Michigan.

Do you recognize this Dianthus?
It could be one described on The Fragrant Path’s website: A spontaneous hybrid which occurred in the garden between D. barbatus probably var. Harlequin and D. superbus, it is not entirely fixed but favors the former in appearance while retaining much of the latter’s scent.


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