Favorite or New Plant
Dianthus 'Bath's Pink'
Nearly every perennial dianthus I've tried to grow turned to mush in summer's humidity, but 'Bath's Pink' does much better. The gray-green mat of leaves adds winter color to the perennial bed, where not much else is striking this time of year. Then the flowers make for great color in the spring beds. Lots of folks grow pinks along the edge of raised beds for good reason. These ladies need that seemingly impossible combination: soil amended with organic matter and great drainage. Even if you must treat this and other dianthus (sweet William, cottage pinks) as annuals, go on and grow them. There's no more wonderful fragrance in the garden, and they're great for nosegays and potpourri.
Surprise Salad for Four
With spring in the air, salads become the focus of my attention. While many like the standard lettuce and spinach salads with bottled dressings, I prefer something a little more exotic. If your family thinks eating flowers is weird, try this. It may convince them otherwise.
1 lemon, cut in half
1 small head iceberg lettuce
1 cup fresh spinach
1/2 cup mung bean sprouts
2 radishes, julienned
1 handful edible flowers - e.g., pansy, viola, dianthus, calendula
chives, crushed garlic, red pepper seed to taste
olive oil and tarragon vinegar to taste
Wipe a wooden salad bowl with salad oil, then squeeze half a lemon into it. Break up lettuce into bite-size pieces, drop in bowl and toss with lemon juice. Snap stems off spinach, tear and mix with lettuce. Add sprouts and radish. Hold flowers in a bunch and use scissors to snip shreds of flower into the greens. Add spices to oil and vinegar and pour over the salad. Toss and serve with cheese bread.