Deep magenta pink has always been my favorite color to make all other garden plants come alive. Its intensity makes pale blues and lavender look softer. Combined with yellow and orange, magenta turns the garden into a Monet painting. It harmonizes all other pinks and makes white sparkle.
Sadly, few perennials, other than peonies and roses, are available in deep magenta; but now, thanks to the breeders at the British firm Whetman Pinks, a gorgeous dianthus is available for mid-height plantings in the herbaceous or mixed border. Hardy in Zones 5-9, the ‘Waterloo Sunset’ dianthus is a compact 12″-14″ (30-36 cm) high with airy blue-gray foliage. It has the classic carnation fragrance and ruffled petals of other pinks (so-called because the flower edges appear to have been trimmed with pinking shears). Deadheading allows the plant to bloom throughout the summer.
The dianthus requires good drainage, but otherwise doesn’t seem fussy about soil. If you’re concerned about whether your soil has adequate drainage, just mound up the soil underneath the dianthus when planting, creating your own mini raised bed. Although this is a new plant for my garden, I have a couple of immediate observations: 1) It requires full sun to maintain its upright, compact habit; and 2) it requires plenty of water while it’s becoming established. Do not let the soil dry out for more than a day if temperatures are over 80° Fahrenheit.
Dianthus rarely have insect or disease issues when a healthy plant is placed in the correct location. Along with its other attributes, ‘Waterloo Sunset’ seems a major advance for this class of perennials. You should be able to find it at Home Depot in the U.S. and at garden retailers throughout the U.K.