Rock garden dwellers invite up-close viewing
Many of the pinks suited to rock gardens are so tiny they would get lost in most other gardens. An excellent rock-garden choice is cheddar pink (D. gratianopolitanus and cultivars., USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 9), which produces little tufts of mat-forming blue-gray leaves from 3 to 8 inches high and sports pale-pink flowers in early summer.
Alpine pinks (D. alpinus and cultivars, Zones 3 to 7) produce clusters of beautiful, serrated, single blooms in deep pink to dark crimson that sit just off the ground, staring up at a viewer. Unfortunately, these summer bloomers are among the few Dianthus plants that are not fragrant, but don’t let that stop you from growing them.
Rock garden pinks are often grown from seed because they are not widely available as plants. If you are lucky enough to obtain seeds, perhaps from a rock garden club or a specialty nursery, barely cover them in a well-drained growing medium, keep them at 60 to 70F, and they should sprout in two to three weeks.
Dense clumps of maiden pinks form a low-growing swath of magenta.
D. gratianopolitanus (cheddar pink)