Look and learn

May 25th, 2018 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Chelsea look and learn Dianthus display from Calamazag Plant Nursery

At the Chelsea Flower Show, we’re used to exhibits that simply look wonderful, and the Great Pavilion is full of them… fifty five exhibits winning Gold Medals. But this year there’s a display of pinks that perfectly combines an attractive display of well grown plants with information about them.

So often, all that accompanies the plants is the name. But Cornwall’s Calamazag Plant Nursery, in a simple, colourful and stylish way, tells us something about the history and propagation of these essential, sunloving perennials. And does so without our eyes glazing over – there’s just enough information to take in during a long day at a busy flower show, presented clearly and effectively.

For example: many of us know that the classic garden old Victorian pink ‘Mrs Sinkins’ was raised by the Master of the Slough Workhouse and named for his wife. But did you now that his original idea was to name it ‘Queen Victoria’ – until, shall we say, his wife made her feelings clear!

And did you know that in the 19th century, clove scented varieties were eaten in salads, used to flavour food and drinks, used to decorate cakes and as treatments for heartburn. Soaked in wine, clove scented pinks were also traditionally given to brides after marriage ceremonies.

Many of those old Victorian are still available, along with our wild native Cheddar pink, Dianthus gratianopolitanus. Almost wiped out by people digging up the plants in its native Cheddar Gorge and by scrub smothering the plants, the Cheddar pink increasing again.

It’s great to be able to admire a Chelsea exhibit and learn a little something too.

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Is one of our best known gardening writers. A graduate of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Graham was previously Gardening Correspondent of The Observer.
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