The botanical name is Matthiola incana, named after Dr Matthiole (1527-1576), a personal physician to Emperor Maxmillian of Austria, who wrote several medical and botanical books. Its other common name is gillyflower.
Tall, strong stem with a cluster of sweet-scented, double flowers forming a spike.
Mediterranean and Canary Islands
White (the most popular colour), pink, red, yellow, lilac and purple.
Peak season is from March-August
A favourite since Elizabethan times, its versatility in breeding has led to new longer lasting cultivars. One well-known group is the Brompton Stock, bred in Brompton Park, London, where the South Kensington museums now stand.
To prolong its vase life of 8-12 days, make sure all the foliage is removed below the water level and that the water is changed regularly to prevent slime forming. Re-cut the stems each time and also add flower food.
In the language of flowers, stock means lasting beauty, bonds of affection and promptness.