Ask anyone born between mid-December and New Year’s Day and they’ll tell you that birthday cake and party hats simply can’t compete with the gingerbread and jingle bells of the holiday season. As a child, it was hard not to feel cheated out of your special day, and even adults with a yuletide birthday may still feel the slight of a winter’s birth. With all the seasonal festivities, treats and sparkly lights, a few birthday candles are hard to notice. If someone you love has a birthday that falls during this bustling holiday time, you probably already know that it’s important to separate celebrations and give their day its due. Dianthus are the perfect flower for December birthdays. Delicate, diaphanous and definitely not poinsettias, these stems stand out among all the holiday trimmings for the people you know born in December.
Sometimes known by their common name, Sweet William, dianthus are a close relative to the more commonly cut flower, carnation. Originally native to parts of Europe and Africa, this perennial plant has been cultivated in gardens for hundreds of years, resulting in several thousand different cultivars all over the world. Most of these have tall, straight stems that are topped with a cluster of blooms, each with five petals. The edges of each petals are delicately patterned with a frilled margin. This patterned look is sometimes called “pinking” in sewing and textiles and lends to another common name for dianthus, pinks.
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Pink is a common color for the flower, though white, purple, red and even yellow are options as well. Most cultivars have cluster of flowers in several different shades with petals that may show a darker center or stripping towards the outside or edges or lighter borders around the margins. Newer varieties have fanciful frilled edges, giving the flower a feathery look. Slightly fragrant, the smell of dianthus is more clean and fresh like linen than sweet and flowery. Mixed with light colored roses and waxflowers, dianthus gives an arrangement a more whimsical look. Pair it with sturdy gerber daisies for a bright and colorful look.
Dianthus are available all year round from florists. New purple varieties have become more popular and will stand out among the gold and green finery of the winter season. Place stems in a fresh vase of water for a flower that will last for almost two weeks.
In the Victorian language of flowers, dianthus was said to symbolize a smile. These cheerful flowers will certainly put a smile on the face of a December born birthday boy or girl.