Growing Carnations is one of the beautiful activity for every gardener.It is generally known, clove pink and Dianthus caryophyllus .They have been cultivated in our gardens for hundreds of years, and there are few of our present-day gardens that do not possess some specimens of them.
In catalogues one usually finds them grouped under the following classifications: Selfs, Bizarres, Flakes, Cloves, Picotees, Yellow and White Ground Picotees and the super hardy race of Cottage Border Carnations, which are bred from the ancient garden variety Rifleman. There is every colour to be had in the hardy Carnation, except blue.
Garden Pinks, Show Pinks and Laced Pinks (sometimes callcd Scotch Pinks), are old garden favourites which bloom in the early summer. The Show Pink is a more delicate and refined race, developed for exhibition purposes. It requires more careful cultivation.
The origin of die Pinks is quite different from that of the Carnation, and they flourish in almost any sunny garden without special care.The Perpetual Pinks, varieties of Diatithus Alhvoodii, resulted from crossing the Perpetual Flowering Carnation and the Hardy Garden Pink. They flower in any sunny garden from spring to winter, and, being of mongrel origin, have a most hardy and robust constitution, growing much more quickly than the
common Pink, and they are much more free flowering.
Then there are the modem Dianthus hybrids, such as Sweet Wivelsfield, Sweetness, Delight, Loveliness, and others which have their own distinctive charms.
HOW TO Growing Carnations AND PINKS
The native home of die wild ancestor of the Carnation, and the Pink, is on the limestone mountains of Southern Europe, and, our own Cheddar Pink, Dianthus caesius, grows on the Cheddar Cliffs of Somerset. It is quite easy to
deduce from this information the conditions which these plants prefer. For example, lime is one of the essential parts of the plants’ diet; this would be there in a perfect state for Carnations, mild and slow acting, never purging the soil of plant food.
There would not be any acidity in the soil; on limestone mountains the soil would be sweet and pure, not too rich nor poisoned with highly concentrate chemical fertilizers. The roots of the plant would just be under the
soil and not deeply covered. Carnations hate to have their stems deeply buried; it brings about stem-rot for winch the scientist loves to give a long name. The roots of plants growing on limestone mountains would keep cool between the
crevices and the sunlight would be good.
All Carnations and Pinks must have a direct light and be in a position where they can see the sun. Also the air would
circulate freely around the plants, keeping the foliage dry and healthy—the appearance of Carnation and Pink leaves tells you that the bloom, or glaucescence, is their natural defence against pests and diseases. But the greatest benefit to plants growing upon the hillside would be that they grow in soil with a free
These, I contend, are the essential conditions for growing all members of the Dianthus family really well. Similar natural conditions in the garden will keep them healthy and happy for a number of years.
Now if one considers all these natural conditions which were favourable for the wild ancestors of the Border Carnation and the Pink, so that they naturalized themselves and carried on from age to age, it should be possible to locate—and correct—the reason for any previous failure in growing Border Carnations and Pinks in a particular garden.
I am sure that every obstacle can be overcome, provided one can locate the cause of previous failure. For instance, in many old town gardens, the soil is quite rich enough, often it is too rich, and there is also
acidity in the soil, which is most harmful to all members of the Dianthus family. Limestone rock is the natural and best form of lime for all types of Dianthus, also for any type of soil.
Anywhere in the world where we find Dianthus species growing in a wild state limestone rock is always in the soil
itself, or else it forms the sub-soil or foundation of it; this is a remarkable fact. The old idea, wliich was reasonably sound, was to use crushed chalk for very light soil, old mortar rubble for soil of medium texture, and quicklime for heavy or clayey soil.
It has always appeared to me that limestone was the foster-mother of all the Carnation and Pink tribe, and the one essential element which has been neglected by all. You will rarely, if ever, find it so much as mentioned in the old
books on the subject of Carnations.
The best way of using limestone is to top-dress the soil with it. The main use of lime in the soil for Carnations is that it liberates and makes available valuable plant food in the soil, and also acts as a tonic to the plant.
We gardeners have, I am afraid, rather conservative minds and place our Hardy Carnations and Pinks all too often in beds in straight rows, but, of course, this need not be so, because ideas of combining all the delightful colours, and
combinations of colour, into what we might describe as a Dianthus garden— composed of Carnations and Pinks—will appeal to all who have an artistic mind.
Plants which are intended to remain in the same position for two or three years should be planted not less than twelve inches apart; however, under favourable conditions, eighteen inches between the plants would not be too
generous an amount of space.
The best results are obtained from early Autumn planting, failing that, planting should be done as early in the spring as possible.During the summer months there is joy in attending to Hardy Carnations and Pinks—repeated hoeing is a luxury and a light feeding is necessary for the best results, and it must be remembered that every fertilizer is not beneficial.
To obtain the best blooms disbudding is necessary. The common practice is to remove the side buds round the centre crown bud, which is the best individual bloom; but the lower side buds, if left, develop into good flowers and open
later; however, in the case of Pinks, it is quite optional.
The side growths or layers produced at the lower part of the plants grow rapidly during the late spring and early summer. In the case of some varieties it is necessary to support these with a plant support, or short twigs some nine
inches long, to protect them against strong winds; particularly is this so in the case of plants to be grown for the second or third year.