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This last month has been quite a challenging one for me, trying to learn how to build a stylish message board, a place where people can come, ask question and help others with their gardening problems.

Finally last Wednesday it was up and running, and in no time there was my first gardening question, “Where do I go to buy carnation bulbs?” Proving there really is a need for such a place.

Carnations, or pinks (Dianthus) are perennial plants, sold and planted in the spring. They are a bit touchy and can take a long time to grow from seed, but not impossible. If you do, they usually do not amount to anything much till their second year.

I prefer starting my own, because from one package of mixed seeds, you will wind up with many plants of varying colors. You will be delighted when they form large mounds of gray-green leaves that resemble grass, covered with hundreds of fringed flowers ranging in shades of pink, white, and red.

When choosing a place to plant your carnations, be sure to select a dry area, these attractive plants die quickly if they have wet feet. I learned this the hard way the first year, after making a 6ft.X6ft. raised bed, so that they would be well drained, I was shocked when the entire area flooded the following spring.

The second area was selected with a lot more care, raised higher and filled with 2/3 rich compost and 1/3 sand mixed into the original clay soil.

 Plants come in a vast array of sizes, growing from 4” to 18” high and spreading up to two feet across, I actually had a plant that was almost three feet long, two feet wide and covered with over 250 open blooms at one time. What a lovely site!

Walking through the carnation area, their clove fragrance will tingle your senses; it’s a scent that fills a soul with optimism. You’d be surprised that even my dogs appreciate their delicate bouquet.

There are also long stem carnations that mostly grow in warm climates, or hot houses, I have only grown this annual variety once, and found they were more work for far less blooms. If you are looking a larger carnation, the kind you find in flower shops, give this taller variety a chance, but it does need a lot more attention.

If you keep the dead heads off your bush type carnations, they will supply you with numerous medium sized blooms for about three weeks. Even these short stem blossoms can be tied to wire and used in a corsage, or in a flower arrangement, it only takes a bit of imagination.

Blooming early in the summer, the dark green carnation foliage remains attractive all summer, adding color and texture to border and other low areas. Place them in front of tall annuals or perennials; their delicate leaves can be used to cover the often-naked looking areas some tall plants have around their base.

When cutting back carnation plants to encourage new growth, try drying some of the petals, they add a beautiful scent to linen closets, and lingerie drawers.