Dianthus ‘Memories’

On the 70th Anniversary of the D Day landings it seems appropriate to post about a plant called ‘Memories’. This is a beautiful, white, fragrant pink (dianthus) that was introduced in 2011. I first saw it at the National Plant Show in the UK in that year and I was very taken with it. I featured it in Garden Answers magazine (of which I was Editor at the time) and predicted it had a great future. I was excited because it is a plant that gardeners actually need rather than a variation on a variation on a theme. I was pleased to see it for sale here in Ireland and snapped some up as soon as I saw them. It was raised and introduced by Whetman Pinks and went on to win the best plant at the show and later Runner Up Show Plant of the Year at Chelsea Flower Show in 2012 and Best New Herbaceous Perennial at the Grower of the Year awards in 2013.

dianthus memor

It is a pretty perfect pink really and is a good alternative to the superb but flawed ‘Mrs Sinkins’*. She is a heavily scented, double white but is a bit floppy, has split calyces so the flowers are always lopsided and it only flowers once. ‘Mrs Sinkins’ will never be replaced but for the average garden ‘Memories’ is a better plant.

‘Memories’ is a neat, compact plant with attractive, blue-grey foliage. The flower stems reach about 30cm high and are well branched so each stem carries many flowers. These are moderately sized and beautifully scented with the typical clove scent that we expect from pinks. The stems are a bit too branched for cutting really because it means that if you cut the stems when the top bud opens you remove lots of other buds that won’t open successfully when cut. But it does make it a perfect border plant and the stems are strong enough to hold the flowers upright so you can enjoy them rather than the slugs! And unlike ‘Mrs Sinkins’ this one flowers on and on throughout summer.

Like all pinks it prefers perfect drainage and full sun. When planting make sure you do not plant them too deeply – keep the neck of the plant clear of the soil or it may rot. Shallow planting is essential.’Memories’ is suitable for containers and because its foliage is so attractive it will look good all year. But use a loam-based compost and not the standard multipurpose compost which might gold too much water, especially in winter. For a permanent container in a sunny spot it would look superb in a large pot with Convolvulus cneorum and astelia with some seasonal felicia and purple verbena popped in for summer.

Pinks are naturally rather short-lived and look their best in their first and second year and then they get woody at the base and can look scruffy so it is worth taking cuttings and replacing them. I have inter-planted my pinks with the annual ‘bunny tail’ grass (Lagurus ovatus) which makes a pretty companion and I will take cuttings and plant these in the gaps left when the grass dies. **

In 2012 – 2013, sales of ‘Memories’ raised money for the Alzheimer’s Society.


* ‘Mrs Sinkins’ is named after the wife of Mr Sinkins (no surprise there) who was the Master of Slough Workhouse. It was first offered for sale in 1868 by Charles Turner’s Royal Nursery on Slough High Street. The flower was incorporated in the Slough coat of arms.

** ‘Memories’ is protected by plant breeder’s rights and unlicensed commercial propagation is prohibited but taking a few cuttings for yourself is permitted.

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