Monday 8 June 2009


Old fashioned frilly Pinks
fill the room with the scent of cloves.

They are Shakespeare's flowers
that Perdita spoke of in
'The Winters Tale'

"...the fairest flowers o' the season
Are our carnations, and streak'd gilly-flowers..."

The name 'gillyflowers' comes from
the Old English word for clove : 'gilofre'
It is now more commonly used for summer stocks
but it was originally used for scented pinks.

The variety names are delightfully old fashioned:
Mrs Sinkins

The sight of these flowers reminded me of a bouquet
gathered for Mary, Queen of Scots, by Penelope
in 'A Traveller in Time' by Alison Uttley.

Adam, the ancient gardener, describes it:
"Here's a bed of sops-in-wine
I've raised myself from cuttings from the Duke's place,
and here's heart's-ease,
although the young mistress calls 'em
by a new fanciful name ...'Pauncies'...
Here's holy-hocks, and these is pinks,
but what I likes is sweet williams
and sweet johns and sweet nancies..."

It is not surprising
this book from my childhood
remains within easy reach.


This week is a succession of meetings
to check,consider, discuss and agree
the examination results for the Department.
I will be swimming in a sea of careful words.
Looking forward to crawling out the other side.


Lynn said...

And now I need to figure out why the heck we crazy Yanks refer to them as carnations...

(Best of luck with your tricky week!)

Unknown said...

Love these flowers! I love the pink edges :)
Hope you have a good week! We have only three days of school left and then it is SUMMER :)

Unknown said...

We'll all be there on the other side Alice, encouraging you with a warm towel ready. My mum's absolute favourites are pinks, sadly never had much luck growing them myself

trash said...

Make sure your floaties are blown up well and pushed tightly around your arms.

dottycookie said...

Good luck for the week.

I love the scent of carnations, but (as I'm sure I've told you before) they hold horrible exam related memories for both of us. Mind you, the pink edged, highly scented ones could probably sneak in under Mr DC's radar ...

dragonfly said...

I bought an 'old-fashioned' pink a couple of weeks ago at my local nursery. It is so strongly scented, it drifts inside my conservatory door and fills me with memories of my great-grandmother who had a garden full of them.

Gina said...

Such pretty frilled edges. I hope you have a good week Alice.

Thomas said...

I am so glad that you like Alison Uttley's Traveller in Time, one of my favourites. She is best known for her children's books (the Grey Rabbit and Sam Pig series) but her reflections on country life and being brought up at Castle Top Farm in Derbyshire will long live in the memory. I still have on my shelves The Country Child and Ambush of Young Days (a Christmas gift from my mother in 1944). Those later country books have lovely woodcut illlustrations by R S Tunnicliffe. Alison Uttley was married in 1911 but her husband died in 1930. I think she turned to writing to support herself and her son.

The Coffee Lady said...

Alice I do love your flowers; I have no fresh flowers at home today but now I feel as if I have.

Anonymous said...

It is such an underestimated flower nowadays, the carnation that used to fill all of our grandmothers' terraces here. I LOVE the scent and when I see one I immediately go and smell it. YUM.
All teh best for the week.

kristina said...

Such beautiful photos. I always wondered what a gillyflower was, and now I know! Best wishes for the week ahead. Will be thinking of you. K x

Rhiannon said...

Such pretty flowers. I always prefer them when they have different edges and middles (if that makes sense). One of my favourites ever were some apricot and pink ones bought by the lovely. So pretty *swoons a little*

Good luck with the final moderation - sounds like its as tense your end as it is ours!

Zoƫ said...

I have lots of these, and other old varieties growing amongst the roses. My favourite is Lace Monarch.

You might enjoy this picture of some of the ones I grow alongside my roses in a Posy

Hope you have a good week

Jackie said...

I can smell it. As soon as I saw it.
Our previous house had a tiny garden with a border of teeny ones down the path.
The book is one of my favourites from childhood. It took me a long time as an adult to re-discover it.

fifi said...

I so love the smell of them, though it is sopme time since I smelled it. they seem to be a disappearing treat around ere.

i hate the bloated carnations in the flower shops, especially when some loon has tinted them blue. Frightful!
And they have no smell!

Anonymous said...

I have pinks in my garden, too! They're blooming (also amongst the roses) and I brought some in to work, and they've perfumed the whole office. I love them.

Anonymous said...

Nothing like a bit of colourful streaking to brighten your day!

Anonymous said...

expect Gerard de Depardieu to heave into sight (site ?) with a backbreaking load of water for his pet carnation project.

Would not have had a problem with water in the UK of course

Suse said...

My mum always calls them pinks, but I had no idea they were also Shakespeare's gillyflowers!

Off to find Alison Uttley now. I'm currently reading a book about Mary Queen of Scots and am hungry for more. Also have just got two books on Jane Boleyn out of the library so am about to overdose on the Elizabethan era once again.

carrie said...

They really DO smell like cloves!
Gorgeous, as usual. :)

G said...

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the Cornish gillyflower which is a very old traditional variety of apple believed to date from the 17th century. It is a delicious dessert apple with a distinctive flavour.When ours ripen this year, and we have had a good set of fruit I will be tasting it to see if it is reminiscent of cloves. Something I hadn't thought about before.

ginny farquhar said...

great post... i never knew gillyflowers were pinks... or carnations... they are underrated i feel and so very pretty.
have a lovely weekend.
ginny xx

Ginnie said...

Only you, MrsM, could do so much with a simple flower.
Hope by now you have crawled out the other side of your long week.