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Leading Pithy Remark & Stick(ies)

(Zone 7a)

Hi All - I have loved pinks for so long and most that have come are long gone from my garden by now due to encroaching shade and interfering arthritis. However! Some trees are about to come down in a couple of weeks, so I have hopes of wintersowing whatever low-growing species of dianthus I might find in the North American Rock Garden Society's seed list when it goes on-line December 15 ( ) to plant out next spring over some walls holding our dirt up off the front street. Whatever species or cultivars of dianthus I might wind up with, I'm looking for ones that will make a low, thick, silvery mat that will cascade over and down stone walls (up to 6' high). I estimate maybe 6 - 8 hours of daily sunlight. Anyone have any suggestions for me? I'd love to hear them.

May I begin a discussion of what to put at the top of this forum's webpage? Some forums begin with a remark something like, "Welcome to the X forum, where tips and photos abound." And, if ultimately y'all prefer something like that, I won't argue against it.

However, I wonder if we could come up with a poem or quote, instead, that would layer some subliminal, magical interest over the nakedly informative? I'll start, and hopefully y'all will come up with some other possibilities.

From The Online Books Page for Emily Dickinson - -
-- click on Dickinson's "Single Hound: Poems of a Lifetime -

"...So spicy her Carnations red,
So drunken reel her Bees,
So silver steal a hundred Flutes
From out a hundred trees..."

This is only the first one I've found for our purposes, so there must be others out there. I hope y'all will comment and let me know one way or another wacha think about my idea for the top of this forum. Not to mention - submit some more possibilities.

I notice that a reference/link to a great book on dianthus got buried under the subject of sources for dianthus. Perhaps we can talk about that, too? A sticky could organize references to various aspects of Dianthus, like Cultivation, Design and Combinations, Germination, Hybridization, Library, Species and Cultivars, Sources - for starters. If you prefer to leave the starter thread for this forum in the Dave's Garden forum, then at least a sticky would link this forum to it, as well as to the dianthus-related thread(s) in the Hybridizers forum.

Would anyone like to take a look at what I did for the Morning Glory forum as the Sticky Index in post #2 at top of the MG forum and then let me know if something like that would be desirable? Or not? The links would be alphabetized by subject (with a condensed explanation for each link) as opposed to randomly listing them.

I will not do anything without approval of Michael and this forum.

I wish we could get Starlight1153 back over here...? Perhaps we at least could maintain participation via email for some until hopefully we could entice them over here?

Thanking everyone in advance for their consideration and for creating this forum,


ps: Attached is a painting of sweet williams participating in the cacophony of a Victorian cottage garden. It is said that the artist sometimes painted these gardens just before the wrecking ball arrived.

Helen Allingham, A Cottage Garden -

Thumbnail by bluespiral
Nutley, NJ(Zone 6b)


To one of your points, our DG-Admin Melody has requested ideas for an introduction to the Dianthus Forum which I posted at: (scroll to the bottom). I am reposting the information here with some additional thoughts.

To get things started I suggest that we could use parts the open source text from Wikipedia as an introduction:

Dianthus is a genus of about 300 species of flowering plants in the family Caryophyllaceae, native mainly to Europe and Asia, with a few species extending south to north Africa, and one species (D. repens) in arctic North America. Common names include carnation (D. caryophyllus), pink (D. plumarius and related species) and sweet william (D. barbatus). The name Dianthus is from the Greek words dios ("god") and anthos ("flower"), and was cited by the Greek botanist Theophrastus.

The species are mostly perennial herbs, a few are annual or biennial, and some are low subshrubs with woody basal stems. The leaves are opposite, simple, mostly linear and often strongly glaucous grey-green to blue-green. The flowers have five petals, typically with a frilled or pinked margin, and are (in almost all species) pale to dark pink. One species, D. knappii, has yellow flowers with a purple centre.

The color pink may be named after the flower, coming from the frilled edge of the flowers: the verb "pink" dates from the 14th century and means "to decorate with a perforated or punched pattern" (maybe from German "pinken" = to peck). Source: Collins Dictionary. This verb sense is also used in the name of pinking shears.


The following 1901 book has a nice introduction to the phrase “Divine Flower”.

American Carnation Culture
By L. L. Lamborn (1901)

Three hundred years before the Christian Era, Theophrastus, a disciple of Socrates, philosopher and moralist, lived in Greece. He published a little work on the Flora of his native land; he had no conception of genera and species, and divided all plants into three classes; Aquatic, Flowering Plants, and Culinary Herbs. He wrote in Greek, and was the first author to mention and name a little procumbent, five petaled flowering plant; he called it Dianthus, from two Greek words, Dio (divine), anthos (flower), meaning Divine Flower.

Many of the older books are too Carnation specific and don’t address the genus Dianthus directly. The use of the phrase “Divine Flower” is must in the introduction.

I am still searching the and Google Books resources to determine if I can find anything which would be applicable. Wordsmiths are invited to be creative with the above highlighted text which is all the public domain.

I would also like to recommend the following source for public domain photographs of Dianthus.

Dianthus species photographs can be found here:

And there is primary Wikipedia page for Dianthus which has several photographs.

And last but not least is the DG PlantFiles:

Can anyone suggest an iconic photograph for the Dianthus forum or submit a new one?


Nutley, NJ(Zone 6b)


In the prototype for the Dianthus Forum at I made a number of posted pertaining to public domain books on the subject of Dianthus and Carnations which can be found in and Google Books. At the time of my posts, the format of and Google Books did not lend themselves for inclusion in the Garden Bookworm. The prototype Dianthus Forum is in public area of DG and will not be moved to the new Dianthus Forum which is for members only. I am going to repost the and Google Books references to a new thread on this forum and then we can have a discussion on how best to handle this information which I would very much like to see incorporated into the Garden Bookworm if that is possible. And yes, I would very much like to see a “Sticky” for Dianthus Reference Materials.


p.s. For the record, I have exactly zero administrative control over this Forum; our ever bending DG-Admin Melody has that thankless task. However, I am always happy discuss ideas on now to make this Forum and DG in general better.

(Zone 7a)

Hi Michael,

Thank you for organizing such great information that is applicable to my questions. I thought it would be nice to throw this up to the general forum so that everyone could work on it together. It might be a day or two before I get back with a more focused response - but still hypothetical.

Regarding historical references to dianthus species, I wonder what searching for 'gillyflower' might bring up? It has Anglo-Saxon roots and can mean many flowers besides dianthus, especially if they bloomed in July in England and France - gilly being an old word for July. Perhaps look at old herbalists' texts? At this time, I don't remember the exact sources for this information. Associating the word 'clove' might narrow down the search. For an iconic picture, wouldn't it be something if we could find an old illuminated manuscript from some bygone monastery with a dianthus flower built into one of those heavily calligraphed letters? I'll come back with a rare book link so others can help with that hunt, if anyone might be so inclined.

It's my understanding that text and artwork dated before 1923 qualify as open domain and can therefore be used without copyright restrictions. The Japanese woodcuts included flowers, including dianthus species, and they have a simplicity of design that puts them on an iconic level in a heartbreakingly lovely way. But the current source of these images would still need to give permission in most cases - the DG writers group might help us out with how to do that. Also, I do like to honor the artist, as well.

What a wide distribution of dianthus species :) It would be fascinating to understand them within their geographic habitats. Somewhere, and I can't remember where, I once read that the number of chromosomes increased among rose species, as their habitat origins progressed from the subarctic circle to the equator (or was it decreased?). I'd love to know if any DNA or related subcellular entities of dianthus species have any patterns of change that would correspond to change of habitat, as well?

Hope I'm not muddying things up here. I'll be back later tonight.


Nutley, NJ(Zone 6b)


Thank you for the word Gilliflower!

Well it looks like Gilliflower is an old name for a Carnation. That recipe for Gilliflower wine is something we should look into. Try that trick with some of the flowers on DG and your next of kin will be receiving Carnations.

The search term “Gilliflower” is an information goldmine. Here is a Google Books search, limited to publications before 1800.,cdr:1,cd_min:Jan%203_2%201,cd_max:Dec%2031_2%201799&tbo=p&q=Gilliflower&num=10

Here are some interesting references.

The Universal Gardener and Botanist: or, a general Dictionary of Gardening and Botany
Thomas Mawe, John Abercrombie (1778)

First Head. The Gilliflower or Carnation kinds.

There is but one species of Gilliflower or Carnation, but which admit of a profusion of most elegant varieties, all very ornamental flowery plants, for the embellishment of the pleasure-garden, flowering beautifully in July and August, succeeded by abundance of seed in autumn. The species is, DlANTHUS Caryophyllus. Carytfbyllus, or Clove Gilliflower, including all the varieties of Carnation.] Dianthus, with many short trailing shoots from the root, garnished with long, very narrow, evergreen leaves,and amidst them upright slender flowerstalks, from one to three feet high, emitting many fide-shoots, all of which, and the main italic, terminated by large solitary flowers, having short oval scales to the calix, and crenated petals.

The varieties of this are very extensive, and unlimited in the diversity of the flowers.

This 1778 reference confirms that Gilliflower and Carnation are one and the same.

And here is a tidbit of knowledge from 1700!

Systema horti-culturae
or The Art of Gardening
John Worlidge (1700)

If you have any Gilliflower that are broken, small, or single, you may graff on them other Gilliflowers that are more choice, but graff them in the most woody part of the stalk; the best way is by whip-graffing.

310 years ago they were grafting Carnations in England. That has some really interesting implications for hacking reverse-engineering some of our modern Carnations which are difficult to root from cuttings.

In the same book, note this bit of editorializing on the preceding page (116).

To have Gilliflowers or Carnations ( as they are vulgarly termed from those ancient English Flowers that were usually of a Flesh Colour ) during the most part of the Winter, they may be placed in Pots, in some convenient Room open to the South, and to be shut at pleasure to defend them from the Cold, unless to give them the benefit of the warm Sun at Noon sometimes, or a little Southerly Rain ; into which Room may be conveyed some warmth from your ordinary Fire, or else a Fire therein on purpose.

The word Carnation was considered vulgar in 1700 by some! There are book references to Gilliflowers going back to the 1600’s. I now understand why I was having difficulty locating information beyond 200 years old. The language changed and I was using the wrong search terms. What else don’t I know? I have no excuse; I have reproductions of 300 year old books which contain dictionaries which defined the meaning of words as they were used 300 years ago. Google makes it much too easy to search for the right thing or the wrong thing. I have a lot of reading to do.


(Zone 7a)

Hi Mike & forum - just wanted you to know I haven't disappeared - lots to read and digest here, to make an understatement :)

Speaking of another search word, which might at least expand icon possibilities for this forum - how about the Japanese word for carnation: Nadeshiko. I must say, though, most of the artwork I've found with dianthus in it does not have any wording in the title related to any kind of dianthus. But still, it might be fruitful to search for:

Nadeshiko + woodcut

or Nadeshiko + kachoga

or Nadeshiko + Sakai (or any variation of artists here:

or Nadeshiko + (any Ukiyo artist from here: )

Beyond an Asian candidate for this forum's icon, though, this might open up some more research possibilities in other related subjects. I'll have to get back to y'all with how to get a computer to recognize Japanese characters. The Japanese language has tiers of languages that vary from Japanese characters to Western alphabet - might be helpful in tandem with good ol' google translator.

Mike, I'm glad the word gillyflower was helpful - not sure if I'm about to send us all on a wild goose chase with nadeshiko - for starters heehee

I might be a few more days before coming back with something intelligible.


Nutley, NJ(Zone 6b)

Translating Carnation and Dianthus into native Japaneses and then searching in yields some interesting results.
Carnation = Kānēshon
Dianthus = Nadeshiko (Warning some of the pictures are X-rated.)

I can't display the Japanese charters in DG but you will see them in the Google windows. Click on the “Read phonetically” button to see Japanese words phonetically in English.


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