Dianthus, signifying the flower of God, or divine flower, so named on account of its preeminent beauty. Most of the species of this genus are highly valued, not only for the beauty of their flowers, but also as being evergreens; their foliage, during winter, being as abundant and as vivid as in summer.
The fragrance of some of the species is peculiarly grateful, and no plant in this respect surpasses the Clove and some other varieties of the Pink.
Dianthus caryophyllus. - Carnation Pink. - There is no flower more desirable in the flower-garden than the Carnation A well-grown, superior variety, cannot be surpassed, in elegance, beauty, or odor, by any other flower; yet we scarcely ever see it in perfection. Its cultivation is attended with many difficulties, in our climate, which may account for its rarity. Our winters are too severe, and springs too changeable, to keep them in perfection in the open ground; and then our summers are too dry and hot for the full development of its beauties. Seedlings stand the winter and spring without difficulty, with a light covering of leaves and evergreen boughs, and flower very well; but then not one plant in a hundred will be considered worth saving by the florist, although they will all be interesting as single, semi-double, or irregular flowers, and richly repay all the labor. Valuable varieties are generally propagated from layers, which often keep very well in the open ground by letting them remain with the parent plant, and covering them with leaves and pine boughs; but the most certain way is, when the layers have taken root, to pot them, and at the approach of winter put them in a frame where they may be kept with perfect safety, provided air is given them in mild weather, and they are not exposed to the sun when in a frozen state. The mice are very destructive to all the pink family; therefore the frame must be tight.
Carnations are arranged by florists into three classes, viz., Flakes, Bizarres, and Picotees. Flakes have two colors only; their stripes large, going quite through the petals. Bizarres are variegated, in irregular spots and stripes, with not less than three colors. Picotees have a white ground, spotted or pounced with scarlet, red, purple, or other colors. The finer sorts are regularly edged with these colors, on a clear white or yellow ground. The petals of a perfect flower should be rose-leaved, or with entire edges; the flower should be filled up in a regular manner with leaves of this description. It flowers in July. On a strong plant the stem will be three feet high.
The propagation of the Carnation by layers is a very simple operation. When the plant is in perfection of bloom, lay around it one and a half or two inches of compost, first gently stirring the surface so that it may combine; remove the lower leaves of the shoots selected; pass the penknife, slanting upwards, half through the joint; fasten the shoot, where so cut, about two inches under the surface, with a small hooked peg, bending it carefully so as not to break at the incision; then fix it firmly by gently pressing the earth around with the fingers, and finish by cutting off about half an inch of the upper extremities of the leaves with scissors. The sap soon begins to granulate at the wound, and throw out roots. In about a month or six weeks, if it has been kept moderately moist, they may be severed from the parent plant and established for themselves; or they may remain where they are, if the stem to which they are attached be carefully cut off.
The Carnation requires a rich, generous, deep soil. A compost of three parts of good, strong garden loam, three parts hot-bed manure, two years old, three parts of coarse river sand, two parts dry manure from a hen-house, sifted, and two parts of soot from a wood fire, has been recommended for the Car-nation.
D. hortensis. - Garden Pink. - This species is in perfection about the last of June. The foliage is more grass-like, and the plant much hardier, than the Carnation. The double varieties are very desirable, not only for their beauty, but also for their fragrance. They may be propagated by dividing the roots, by layers, and by pipings. The surest mode of propagation is by layers, but piping is generally resorted to for Pinks. These are shoots cut from the plant at the second or third joint, according as they are more or less woody or juicy, and inserted, close to each other, in a bed of proper compost well pulverized; water moderately, so that the earth may adhere closely round the shoots; when the moisture has somewhat evaporated from the leaves, cover them up with a hand glass, which must be forced a little depth into the ground so as to keep out the air. This need hardly be removed until the plants have taken root; they must be shaded, however, the first fourteen days, with mats over the glasses, when the sun is very hot. If properly managed, not one in twenty will miss, and between one and two hundred may be planted under one glass; in a month or six weeks they will be sufficiently rooted to move. Carnations are sometimes raised from pipings, but they are not so sure as Pinks to take root. This variety is often called the Paisley Pink, on account of its having been raised in the highest perfection among the weavers near Paisley, in England. A good Pink should have a strong, elastic, and erect stem, not less than one foot high. The petals should be large and broad, with very fine-fringed edges, the nearer rose-leaved the better. The ground-work of the. flower should be pure white, or rose-colored, with a dark, rich crimson, or purple eye, resembling velvet; if nearly black, so much the richer. A delicate margin, or lacing, round the entire petal, if the color of the eye, increases its beauty. The flower should be from two to two and a half inches in diameter.
Dianthus Chinensis. - China Pink. - This species is a biennial of great beauty, but without' fragrance; of dwarf habits. The foliage is of a yellowish green. It flowers from seed the first year; it is perfectly hardy, and flowers strong the second year. The colors are exceedingly rich; crimson, and dark shades of that color approaching to black, are often combined in the same flower, with edgings of white, pink, or other colors. Seed, saved from double flowers, will produce a great portion of double varieties. In beds where there may be a hundred plants, scarcely two will be found alike. They are in flower a number of months.
Dianthus barbatus, - Sweet William, - is an old inhabitant of the flower-garden, and was much esteemed in Ge-rarde's time, " for its beauty to deck up the bosoms of the beautiful, and garlands and crowns for pleasure." It is an imperfec perennial, but fine varieties are easily perpetuated by dividing the roots, soon after flowering, in June or July. It is easily • raised from seeds. A bed of fine varieties presents a rich sight; it sports into endless varieties, viz., white, pink, purple, crimson, scarlet, variously edged, eyed, and spotted. There are also double varieties, but they are no improvement over the single.
Dianthus superbus. - Superb Pink. - This is one of the most fragrant of pinks, flowering in July and August; two feet high; the petals are very much cut or fringed; flowers white.
Dianthus plumaris. - Feathered Pink. - The edges of the flower are deeply fringed, or feathered; very fragrant; twelve to eighteen inches high in July; white, or pink, with a dark eye; sometimes called Pheasant-eyed Pink.
Dianthus alpinus. - Alpine or Dwarf Pink. - A pretty little perennial, suitable for rock-work, with creeping roots; although not aspiring, (not exceeding three or four inches in height,) soon takes possession of all the ground in the neighborhood. The flowers are white, or flesh color, variegated with a circle of red, or purple, in June and July.
There are many other species and varieties of Pinks, annual, biennial, and perennial, all worthy a place in the garden.