Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus) is an old fashioned garden flower that originally came from Southern Europe.
The three to four-inch flower heads, made up of many individual flowers, appear on top of 10- to 18-inch stems. The flowers look like small carnations and come in white, pink, rose, red, purple, and variegated colors. Buy when they still have unopened buds and very few withered flowers.
To condition, strip the lower leaves, cut the stems just above a stem joint, and then place them in tepid water. They last about a week depending upon maturity and conditions.
An informal flower, Sweet William is very cheerful in mixed and old fashioned bouquets.