Monday, February 04, 2008

Weird plant names: Pinky Winky

Do you like cutsie plant names? On the Garden Writers list-serve I belong to there's been a lively exchange about Pink Winky, the new hydrangea (shown left) that's being promoted heavily this season.

Pink Winky is a Pee Gee cultivar with big two-toned, white and pink flowers. According to Proven Winners, the plant has "strong upright red stems that hold the large, 12-16 inch blooms up so you never get the drooping Pee Gee Hydrangea look. The flower heads continue to grow throughout the season and as the older flowers turn dark pink the new flowers continue to emerge white. The effect is stunning."

The plant was bred by Dr. Johan Van Huylenbroeek at the Flemish DVP breeding station of Belgium, and it's said the name Pinky Winky was dedicated to his son, whose favorite Teletubby character was Tinky Winky.

Garden writers opinions on the name ranged from from: "Is it just me, or would anyone else here refuse to grow a plant named Pinky Winky just because the name makes your teeth hurt? - to: "I can't wait to take my grandson on a tour of my garden and introduce him to Pinky Winky. A few cutsie names sprinkled here and there are not a bad thing." Opinions in general leaned to the negative side.

For the record, I don't love the name. As for the plant, I'll have to give it a try. And the name is a trade mark, Pinky Winky™ - so if you hate it, you can always call it the cultivar name, 'DVPpinky', instead.

The Canadian government's food inspection agency, which (go figure) also covers plants being imported, has an interesting comparison between the Pinky Winky and the cultivar 'Pink Diamond' on its web site.

I've tried 'Pink Diamond' and found that it wasn't very pink, so it sounds like the new one is definitely worth seeking out if you're looking for a showy hardy hydrangea.
© Yvonne Cunnington, Country Gardener


  1. I fall on the side of those whose teeth hurt at the sound of the name (and missed the reference to Tellatubbies, never having seen them!) I was sent a couple of different hydrangea cultivars last year to trial, but I don't think this was one of them; I'll have to dig up the names, but I think one was Quick Fire and one Cityline something. Starting to wonder, however, whether breeders are running out of names, sort of like the automakers who are resorting to letters and numbers.

  2. You can put me down as ambivalent about the name. I'm more interested if it really blooms pink as I have yet to get a pink Hydrangea bloom here in my Long Island New York garden.

    Hydrangea 'Lady in Red' is stunning here but the deepest blue imaginable. I'll be glad to give 'Pinky winky' a try.

  3. I did get the Teletubbies reference the 1st time I saw the plant name - I HATE it! My kids watched that show & every time I see the name that stupid theme song runs in my head. If I ever grow this, it will be referred to by its botanical name. BTW I think I'm going to follow Tony Avent's lead & stop using trademark names altogether. This is a strong argument in favor of such a decision.

  4. I don't think that the name goes with the plant. I did not know hydrangeas would grow that far north.
    Greg II

  5. I'm trying (unsuccessfully) to grow some Primula obconica "Twilly Touch Me". Now there's a name that made my husband mock all of plantdom.

  6. Pee Gee hydangeas are very hardy. I've certainly seen them growing in gardens in Zones 3 and 4 in the Canadian north and west. We're in Zone 5 here in Southern Ontario.

    Thanks for all your comments.

    Cheers, Yvonne

  7. Well its funny that this hydrangea came up, I had it circled in my Dutch Garden catalog as an addition to my garden this spring! Sadly I didn't focus on the name but just the fact that it was a hydrangea that might survive my zone brutal 4 climate! If it does survive...I might just wink and call it Pinky!!!


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-Yvonne, aka Country Gardener