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Clove pinks  

Clove pinks


Dianthus caryophylluscarnation or clove pink is probably native to the Mediterranean region but its exact range is unknown due to extensive cultivation for the last 2,000 years.

It is a herbaceous perennial plant growing to 80 cm tall. The leaves are glaucous greyish green to blue-green, slender, up to 15 cm long. The flowers are produced singly or up to five together in a cyme; they are 3–5 cm diameter, and sweetly scented; the original natural flower colour is bright pinkish-purple, but cultivars of other colours, including red, white, yellow and green, have been developed.

It's name 'clove pink' comes from it being grown in Mediaeval times as a substitute for the then very expensive spice 'cloves'. Quite how it was used for that I have yet to discover, but there is a recipe for pickling the flower buds in John Evelyn's   'Acetaria, a Discourse of Sallets' published 1699, which I plan to try when I get enough of a crop!


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