In the era of truly global commerce, very few flowers are seasonal anymore. Heck, lately even Mama Nature isn’t getting the seasons right. This is not so with the June charmer, Sweet William, (Dianthus barbatus). Thomas Jefferson planted Sweet William at Monticello.
In Victorian flower lore, Sweet William was the symbol of gallantry. The English botanist John Gerard first described these flowers in a 1597 treatise, Herball. He was a contemporary of Shakespeare for whom the nickname may have first appeared.
Other candidates the for source of the nickname are Saint William of York and William the Conqueror, both of whom would qualify for gallantry I expect.
These flowers in the wild are mostly in solid reds. The cultivated one are a riot from Kate’s pure white (which I haven’t seen) through pink, salmon, crimson violet to purple with every conceivable bicolor in between. Flower stems, which are rather thick, can hold a cluster of up to 30 tiny blossoms. These biennial flowers are fringed to make them even more delightful.