The difference between carnations and pinks often causes much discussion. Years ago it was determined on the basis that carnations flowered for longer under glass, but could not be overwintered outside. Pinks, on the other hand, given good drainage, were tougher, but only flowered once, during the summer months. Another difference is that Carnations are long-stemmed with substantial blooms while Pinks are relatively short-stemmed with smaller more dainty blooms.
However, during the early 20th century, breeders began to cross the two and a new range of long flowering, scented hardy garden pinks were developed that still remain very popular today.
Pinks were prized by the ancient Greeks who actually created the name Dianthus, meaning God’s or Zeus’s flower, but they have also been known by other names. Chaucer, wrote about them in the mid 14th century calling them ‘girofle’ meaning clove, and though you don’t often hear that name today, you can still sometimes hear them referred to as ‘gillyflower’.
They have everything. They are good for cutting, flower for long periods, are attractive to bees and butterflies and are slug and rabbit resistant.