These are excellent plants for town gardens, and also do particularly well in seaside districts. A perfectly-drained soil and a sunny position are imperative. If planted in shade, carnations become drawn and leggy. For land on the heavy side, raise the bed 3 to 4 in. above soil level. Work in plenty of compost, irrespective of soil conditions, also mortar rubble or hydrated lime, as all carnations are lime-loving plants and will not thrive on really acid soils. Plant firmly in September or March and bury the roots, not the stem. Spare about 15 in. Short canes or pea sticks may be used to support the plants. The finest flowers are obtained by judicious disbudding. After a hard or very wet winter-some varieties have a knack of collapsing or dying back from February onwards and it must be emphasised that border carnations are by no means invariably sound perennials like phlox, Michaelmas daisies and so on. They may persist for four years but it is advisable to obtain new plants by layering in the second year. Fortunately they are quite easy to increase in this way. There is an astonishing colour range available and the varieties are listed under specific colour groupings. Named border carnations, in common with most man-made varieties of flowers, eventually deteriorate in constitution etc., and only those of which stocks are sound are recommended.


Old Crimson Clove: a poor flowerer, judged by modern standards, being loosely formed and very prone to calyx splitting, but the scent is incomparable.

Bookham Perfume: deep maroon. Very fragrant. Crimson Model: large velvety-crimson. Resistant to bad weather. Downs Clove: medium-sized crimson. Extra vigorous. Very fragrant. Downs Scarlet: brilliant scarlet. Very free flowering. Compact habit. Oakfield Clove: rich crimson, high-centred flowers. Very fragrant. Rifleman: brick-red. An old-fashioned, very tough variety which does well in exposed, cold situations. Majestic Clove: crimson-purple. Very fragrant.


Swan Lake: pure white with the petal edges rather more serrated than is usual in border carnations.

Snow Clove: a very fragrant variety again with somewhat serrated petals but liable to split its calyx.


A/ton Water: soft pink, flushed deep rose.

Alice Forbes Improved: white ground, heavily marked old rose.

Bookham Star: white with reddish-purple edges.

Dainty: pale yellow ground with soft pink edges.

Downs Flake: turkey-red and maroon. Very lasting when cut.

Downs Sunset: apricot and rose-pink. Stands up to bad weather and is excellent for cutting.

Ebor: chocolate and red. An old variety which is still worth growing.

Harmony: French-grey and cerise.

Liberty: white ground with crimson markings.

Sunbeam: rich yellow splashed with red.


Bookham Rose: rose-pink.

Downs Cerise: rich cerise flowers borne on very firm stems.

Pink Clove and Pink Fragrance: both powder-pink and very fragrant.

Pink Pearl: apricot-pink. Very vigorous.

Salmon Clove: deep salmon-pink. Very fragrant.

Teviotdale: ruby-rose. An old variety with extra large, flat flowers, which hold their colour well in all weathers.

Yellow, Orange and Apricot:

There are very few really satisfactory yellows. Beauty of Cambridge: primrose-yellow. Border Orange: the name describes the colour. Downs Apricot: creamy-apricot. Ettrickdale: lemon-yellow.

Lavender, Mauve and Purple:

Bookham Grey: greyish-mauve.

Downs Beauty: deep mauve.

Imperial Clove: petunia-purple.

Lavender Clove: heliotrope. Very fragrant.

Leslie Rennison: orchid-purple. Very fragrant.

Bizarres and Flakes:

These are border carnations with clearly defined contrasting colours. A bizarre embodies three or more colours, a flake comprises two only.

Apricot Bizarre: apricot ground, splashed carmine and Tyrian rose.

Bizarre Rubens: white ground, with crimson, scarlet, mauve and old rose markings.

Cherry Flake: cherry-pink flaked dark maroon.

Scarlet Flake: orange-scarlet flaked deep chestnut.


These are border carnations with white or yellow flowers and a distinct, very small band of colour round the petal edges.

Crimson Frills: yellow with crimson edge.

Eva Humphries: white with beetroot-purple edge.

Fair Maiden: white with light scarlet edge.

Cottage Carnations:

These are a group of super-hardy garden carnations, rather shorter in growth than the border carnations but flowering over a longer period. The blooms are also rather smaller but lose little, if anything, in the way of refinement. They should be supported as necessary by light twigs or sticks, especially in exposed positions, although in most gardens relatively little staking is needed. Where border carnations are disappointing in the open, concentrate on this group. Most varieties require very little disbudding and will persist for at least three years. Increase by layering or cuttings in the usual way. Most varieties have some fragrance, though it is not pronounced.

Cottage Apricot: rich apricot. Often blooms into early October.

Cottage Claret: Extra large, wine-coloured flowers.

Cottage Coral Pink: A beautiful clear coral-salmon.

Cottage Fairy: white ground edged rosy-pink.

Cottage Gem: white flecked crimson. Very vigorous and exceptionally free flowering.

Cottage Jewel: orange-apricot and bronze. Excellent for cutting.

Cottage Mauve: deep mauve.

Cottage Melody: primrose-yellow splashed soft pink. Shorter than some varieties.

Cottage Orange: orange-apricot with some red. One of the finest varieties and exceptionally hardy.

Cottage Pink: Flesh-pink.

Cottage Princess: white with rosy-mauve markings.

Cottage Primrose: primrose-yellow flowers, admirably balanced by the silvery-grey foliage.

Cottage Quaker: white with deep salmon markings.

Cottage Salmon: salmon-red.

Cottage Vivid: brilliant scarlet.

Cottage White: pure white. Very free flowering.


Layering produces the best plants and is carried out in July. Draw away the soil from around the parent plant and replace to a depth of 3 or 4 in. with a light, sandy compost. Choose a non-flowering shoot for layering and remove the bottom 4 or 5 leaves. Next make a cut through the fourth or fifth joint to form a tongue. Trim this off flush with the base of the joint. Bend the stem down and fix the layer in the prepared soil by means of a layering pin. Keep well watered until the layer is definitely rooted — usually in about 6 weeks. It is then severed and planted in its permanent quarters.

Pests and Diseases:

Carnation fly is sometimes troublesome. The maggot feeds on the leaf tissues, producing blisters. Stems are also attacked, causing the plant to wilt and possibly die. Dusting with insecticide is an effective remedy. Aphids and thrips may be controlled by spraying with BHC insecticides.

Rust is more common on varieties with light green foliage — those with more glaucous leaves are often relatively resistant. The disease begins as a slight swelling on the leaf or stem. When this breaks the surface is covered with masses of chocolate brown spores. Infected foliage is often curled and growth becomes stunted. A thiram fungicide controls rust.

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