British National Carnation Society

Leading the way with Dianthus

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Growing Pinks
Progressive Thinking

Articles 2
National plant Collection (Malmaisons)

Articles 3
Mike Newby
Plants To Highgrove

Articles 4
Desmond Donaldson

Articles 5
Growing Pinks my Way
Fay Seagrave

Articles 6
Six varieties of perpetual carnations
Ivor Mace

Articles 7
Growing my Way
Ray Knight

Articles 8
Oh No, not carnations
as well
John Peace

Articles 9
Hydroponic Culture of

Articles 10


One of the most often questions that I am asked at show venues is “ What would you recommend for a novice to start with “ This is not at first glance an easy answer, as it depends on what experience the novice has in growing pot plants ; if he or she has absolutely no experience in growing any pot plants, then yes it is an easy answer. Without doubt I would recommend that they start by growing Pinks. This is sometimes an answer that they did not expect, as they look at the many vases of P/FS that are on display, but when I explain the versatility of Pinks they soon understand my recommendation. So what is it about Pinks, well I think it’s simple, they will reward you with flowers for very little effort, and if you are a beginner in growing Carnations or Pinks what better than instant success. As long as you get the conditions right, then they will flower from June right through till October and perhaps longer. They are so versatile, no garden, no problem grow them in a window box, or a pot on the patio. If you have space in the garden then grow some in the border, or in pots, all they require is good drainage, light and airy conditions. The vast amount of Pinks also have an added bonus, and that is scent, a few cut flowers will soon fill a room and we should all be aware of our carbon footprint. Why purchase that bunch of Pinks from the supermarket or garage, they have probably travelled from across the world and most annoying of all, they have no scent. Just a couple of plants, will give you plenty of stems for cut flower.


Left. A Vase of cut Pinks, what could be better than having your own cut flowers and the scent wafting through the house. Right. Two plants in a window box. The Variety is Romance from Whetman Pinks, and the scent is very strong


Progressive Thinking

I thought I would share some ’Innovation’ which came out of a recent conversation with Barrie Gamble and Peter Booker whilst on our journey to the Council meeting in Peterborough. Both Barrie and Peter are progressive thinkers and are not afraid to ‘experiment’ in their growing techniques, whether this is via new composts, fertilisers or something altogether different. By way of example, both have been experimenting with household bleach in their greenhouse husbandry and propagating methods. It may well be that some of you have already travelled down this road but for me this was new and untried ‘territory’ Both use a strong bleach solution in pressure sprayers and at the end of each season their greenhouses and growing frames are given a good spray of bleach which is then hosed off with a pressure washer about an hour later. All parts of the greenhouse and staging are treated which ensures their start to the New Year is both pest and rust free. It is the treatment of their cuttings which I found fascinating and dare I say somewhat unusual. Peter is the first grower I am aware of to begin this method. Both are experimenting with a weak dilution of bleach in which their new cutting material is immersed prior to insertion into the compost. Both report the cuttings are immersed and moved around in the bleach solution for a short period of time and then removed and trimmed as usual, dipped into hormone rooting powder and placed in cutting cells. They report the treatment is good for destroying any pests and diseases which are active or lying dormant on the cutting and will destroy any pests or their eggs visible to the naked eye. The cuttings are reported to have grown away well once inserted into the growing medium. HOWEVER Caution is needed if using this practice and both Barrie and Peter state the technique MUST be tried on a few cuttings ONLY before any large scale attempt is practised. Both admit they have and continue to experiment with the dilution rates of bleach to try to ascertain the optimum rates for successful treatment of the cutting material. Neither is prepared to suggest what the dilution rates should be other than it should be ‘weak.’ As we are all aware growing techniques and methods vary from individual to individual and what works for one grower may not necessarily work for another and so it is with this bleach method discussed here. If you do decide to try a few cuttings then please begin with a weak bleach solution to see how the method works for you BEFORE progressing to more cuttings or a stronger solution. Finally in sharing this information, no endorsement of this method is made by the Society or the editor and success is not intended nor implied, this should be clearly understood. However, should success by enjoyed and a safe dilution rate be identified then I would ask ‘future experimenters’ to share any success or indeed any failures they experience with the rest of our membership. Only by pushing the boundaries, seeking out pro-active and innovative new methods of culture will real progress be made in the future. I for one intend to try a few cuttings using this method and I do mean a ‘few’ in the event it does not work for me. Perhaps our members will let me have their thoughts in due course which I will be only to pleased to publish in a future newsletter. Editor.