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ORRIN MORRIS: Depford pinks an import from England

Depford pink Dianthus armeria

Depford pink Dianthus armeria

Jesus told a parable of a woman who had 10 coins and lost one. Immediately, she lit a lamp, swept the floor and searched carefully until she found it. When she found it, she called her friends together and said “Rejoice with me, I have found my lost coin.” (Luke 15:8-9).

As the woman in the parable searched diligently for what she had lost, note the ecstasy when she found the lost coin. The same excitement is experienced in God’s presence (with the angels) when one person commits to humbly trust God in faith.

Today, we examine a wildflower that is common throughout the South but it rarely survives very dry periods.

DEPFORD PINK

Dianthus armeria

I had a patch of these pinks for at least 20 years. Because I was fascinated by their coloration, I took special care to mow around them. This left a clump or two of scraggly weeds in the middle of the path to my blueberries.

According to the botanical sources I use, this variety of pink prefers hard packed soil and that is where mine thrived. I suppose they will eventually reappear as normal rainfall returns. I like these humble weeds for two reasons: their unique tiny colorful and delicate blooms and their determination to survive.

The plant stands 1 to 2 feet tall with 1- to 4-inch thin erect light green needle-like leaves. The hot pink flowers with tiny white spots all over the tiny petals are 1/2 inch in diameter. Some flower heads have as many as eight buds but only two or three are open at one time.

Long bristly bracts comprise the structure around the buds. The flower rises above this structure as it opens, but when fertilization is accomplished the blossom drops and the bracts firmly return to the shape of the bud cycle to protect the ovaries as next year’s seeds mature.

The common name refers to Deptford, England, from whence the plant was imported. At one time, these pinks were abundant in Deptford, but as London grew, it incorporated Deptford and these wildflowers no longer grow there.

Orrin Morris is a retired Baptist minister, local artist and art teacher. This column is included in a two-volume set of books of wildflower columns he has published. To purchase the books, visit the Nature Seen Gallery & Frame Shop, 914 Center Street in Olde Town Conyers. Email him at odmsketchingpad@yahoo.com.