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Pinks and Carnations

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If grown in the garden, pinks and carnations prefer a sunny, open site and a free-draining soil. Prepare the planting bed in autumn by single digging and incorporating humus-forming material and then in spring fork in a balanced fertilizer. Water the plants before planting and set them in moist soil 35-45 cm apart. Water the plants only if the weather is too dry. Taller plants may need staking. In winter clear away dead leaves and firm back the young plants that might have been lifted by frost.

All pinks and carnations can be propagated from cuttings but the best results are obtained by layering. Also they can be grown from seeds but most of them may not breed true or will not flower in the first year.

Cuttings from pinks should be taken in summer by choosing healthy shoots with 4 or 5 pairs of leaves. Trim off the bottom pair of leaves just below a joint and insert the cuttings in a mixture of standard cutting compost and sand in equal parts. Cover with a plastic bag or put them in a propagator. After 2-3 weeks they will form roots and you can pot them separately in standard potting compost. Keep them in a cold frame or greenhouse until spring.

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Layering will be done after the carnations have flowered using one-year-old plants. Around the plant that you intend to layer dig in equal parts of sand and cutting compost to a depth of 7 cm. Choose few well-spaced, non-flowering sideshoots and remove all but the top 4-5 pairs of leaves from every shoot. Below the node with the lowest leaves cut downwards through the next node forming a tongue, pin the shoot so the tongue is held in the prepared soil. After they have rooted detach them and plant them separately.

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One of the most favorites perennials flowers that are grown in the flower garden are peonies because of their luxurious and spectacular blooms in an early summer garden. Colors range from white, cream, and ivory through myriad pinks, roses, and dark reds. There are few perennials that can rival them for floral display and foliage as they offer beautiful flowers in the spring and provide good foliage throughout the summer. Their exquisite, large blossoms, often fragrant, make excellent cut flowers and the foliage provides a background for annuals or other perennials. Planted at the back of a perennial bed, the deeply cut, glossy green foliage makes a pleasing background throughout the summer for other plants.

Peonies can be slow growers, especially if you start with small divisions but once it becomes established, will flower for many years if you offer them little care. Young plants can take several years before flowering, but they are among the longest-lived perennial plants you will ever see, so once establish they will be in your garden forever. The plants are either planted as single specimens mixed among other plants or in clumps or masses or they may be planted in rows to form a background for smaller plants.

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