I love the old~fashioned flowers like pinks. They are sold here as annuals and yet mine overwinter well and I have been able to enjoy them for the fourth summer running.
I decided to look up their origin and found that they were second only to roses in the Middle Ages. These pretty flowers were in cultivation during Elizabethan times which is evident in the following from Shakespeare's "A Winter's Tale":
Sir, the year growing ancient,
Not yet on summer's death, nor on the birth
Of trembling winter, the fairestflowers o' the season
Are our carnations and streak'd gillyvors,
Which some call nature's bastards: of that kind
Our rustic garden's barren; and I care not
To get slips of them.
Wherefore, gentle maiden,
Do you neglect them?
For I have heard it said
There is an art which in their piedness shares
With great creating nature.
Say there be;
Yet nature is made better by no mean
But nature makes that mean: so, over that art
Which you say adds to nature, is an art
That nature makes.
You see, sweet maid, we marry
A gentler scion to the wildest stock,
And make conceive a bark of baser kind
By bud of nobler race: this is an art
Which does mend nature, change it rather, but
The art itself is nature.
So it is.
Then make your garden rich in gillyvors,
And do not call them bastards.
*** Gillyvors or gillyflowers is the old English name for pinks. ***