Martin Fish is grow­ing gar­den pinks for cut­ting

They make de­light­ful in­door dis­plays and are easy to grow

Garden News (UK) - - Contents -

As a child I re­mem­ber see­ing buck­ets of gar­den pinks for sale out­side flower shops and green­gro­cers. Back then they were a pop­u­lar cut flower and lots of mar­ket gar­den­ers and nurs­eries grew them as a sum­mer cash crop. Sadly, their pop­u­lar­ity de­clined as tastes changed and more ex­otic-look­ing blooms be­came read­ily avail­able. Nowa­days you can strug­gle to find pinks for sale and there’s only one Bri­tish pro­ducer of cut flow­ers left.

For­tu­nately, the plants are very easy to grow and with just a lit­tle care you’ll be re­warded with bunches of pretty gar­den pinks through the sum­mer months.

Young plants can of­ten be found in gar­den cen­tres and, if planted in spring, you’ll be cut­ting by July. Old favourites in­clude ‘Doris’, ‘Hay­tor’, ‘Gran’s favourite’, ‘DevonCream’ and ‘Cran­mere Pool’, which all make ex­cel­lent flow­ers for cut­ting.

There are also many more great va­ri­eties and Cala­mazag Plant Nurs­ery, based in Corn­wall, spe­cialises in di­anthus and pinks, grow­ing a large se­lec­tion to sell at flower shows and mail or­der through its web­site.

When grow­ing them in the gar­den, they need a sunny po­si­tion and a well-drained soil. Ide­ally, they pre­fer a neu­tral to slightly al­ka­line soil, but they’re not too fussy.

Although they’re peren­ni­als, they’re short-lived and af­ter three or four years the plants be­come strag­gly and flower less. To keep a healthy, vig­or­ous stock, cut­tings can be taken in the sum­mer to pro­duce strong new plants.

Once flow­er­ing starts in sum­mer, pick on a reg­u­lar ba­sis to en­cour­age more flow­er­ing stems to de­velop. As a cut flower they’ll stay fresh for around 10 days if you use a flower feed in the wa­ter, and many of the old va­ri­eties have a delicate clove scent. They look great on their own in a vase, ei­ther in sin­gle colours or mixed, or to fill them out a lit­tle use some fo­liage from the gar­den.

Pinks make a lovely cut flower

For­mer head gar­dener, TV and ra­dio broad­caster and RHS judge GAR­DEN The cut­ting

Bunch stems to­gether with fo­liage from the gar­den

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