Dianthus barbatus var. nigrescens ‘Sooty’
Deepest darkest chocolate-burgundy flowers in frilly round heads are a joy from mid spring through summer.
To top it all off they have the most wonderful scent too.
Go over the top with chocolate
And then to go right over the chocolatey top, the mature foliage is also coloured with brilliant chocolate, red and burgundy shades.
(Skip below to “Growing” section for plant details, how & where to grow)
Long lasting cut in a vase
Dianthus barbatus var. nigrescens ‘Sooty’ blooms atop 40cm. stems, which are strong, straight and easily cleaned so perfect for cutting. The “Sweet William” type flower heads last for ages (up to two-three weeks) in the vase on these stalwart stems, so they are the most terrific cut flowers.
Plant where you can enjoy the unique colour & scent
‘Sooty’s flowers are just as weather proof in the garden as they are long lasting in the vase.
But for me, I could not live without the foliage, because that splash of chocolate coloured foliage makes such an excellent highlight and contrast amongst all the other greens.
“Sooty” forms an evergreen (or in this case ever-sooty) dense carpet to about 15cm. high x 45cm wide.
Stunning planted along the front edge of a sunny garden bed where you can really enjoy the unique colour, sweet scent, and intricate detail of the flowers.
Sensational under red roses
‘Sooty’ used in the foreground certainly makes a dramatic setting for almost any other flowers and foliage behind. But it becomes sensational when it is used as an underplanting for deep red or white roses.
Tough & water-wise in sun Like most Dianthus, ‘Sooty’ just revels in a Full Sun position, although in very hot districts afternoon shade is beneficial.
Shrugs off frost, wind & heat
‘Sooty’ shrugs off wind, heat and frost; and actually prefers soil that is not too rich. Can you ask for more?
Yes you can – ‘Sooty’ is also a water-wise choice for gardeners wanting to conserve precious water.
Plus ‘Sooty’ copes with coastal sites, poor, sandy, rocky and alkaline soils.
It will also thank you for a handful of lime in spring and autumn, unless your soil is already naturally lime based. Good drainage is essential.
Growing: Dianthus barbatus var. nigrescens ‘Sooty’
– Height with flowers: 40cm. approx.
– Width: 45cm. approx.
– Position: Full Sun. Suits seaside, windy & exposed sites.
– Soil: Enjoys lime, well drained soil. Copes with seaside, sandy or poor rocky soils.
– Fragrance: Spicy, sweet scent.
– Frost: Hardy. In fact severe frost will just make the foliage even more chocolate coloured.
– Growth: Evergreen perennial mound.
– Care: Easy low-maintenance. Cut back after flowering. Divide and replant about every second or third years, otherwise it can flower itself to exhaustion.
– Deer & Rabbit resistant: Fortunately not at the top of the menu, though not outright repellant.
Kate’s wedding bouquet fit for a prince
– Origin: The original native home of the “Sweet Williams” is in the limestone slopes of southern Europe, from the Pyrenees to the Carpathians and the Balkans. This explains their hardy and undemanding nature.
– History (recent): When Kate Middleton finally walked down the aisle of Westminster Abbey to marry her Prince, she carried a lovely and fragrant bouquet. The gardeners amongst us will have spotted that the bouquet contained pure white “Sweet William” flowers. Kate had obviously been boning up on meanings in the “Language of Flowers”, so popular in Victorian times. “Sweet William” represents “Gallantry”. It certainly was a handsome wedding!