Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Deptford Pink

The Deptford Pink (Dianthus armeria) is extinct as a wildflower in the area that once gave it its English name. In 1633 it was common enough for a herbalist to write: ‘There is a little wilde creeping Pinke, which groweth in our pastures neere about London, and in other places, but especially in the great field next to Deptford, by the path side as you go from Redriffe to Greenwich' (Thomas Johnson's edition of Gerard's Herbal).

Deptford Pink

A number of websites (including this one) repeat the suggestion that the plant's English name is a misnomer, that the plant identified in 17th century Deptford was probably Maiden Pink (Dianthus deltoides), and that Deptford Pink (Dianthus armeria) probably never grew here. I would like to see the original source for this claim - is it an opinion or an accepted fact?
In any event both kinds of Pink are threatened in England, so lets try and get some of both planted across South East London. A few years ago at a local history talk in Use Your Loaf (Deptford High Street) I gave away some Deptford Pink seeds. If lots of people planted seeds in their gardens, parks, borders bit of wasteground, we could re-establish a viable wild population. You can buy the seeds cheaply and easily from the many seed suppliers online (e.g. Secret Seeds).

Maiden Pink

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