BNCS Badge

Leading the way with Dianthus

British National Carnation Society



About the British National Carnation Society


So what is the British National Carnation Society all about?  In a word: Culture.  No, not that sort of culture – but culture in the sense of growing, growing the flowers of the three main types of Dianthus – Pinks, Border Carnations and Perpetual-flowering Carnations.

Not everyone understands the difference between these three groups   Basically, Carnations are long-stemmed with substantial blooms, while Pinks are relatively short-stemmed and with smaller more dainty blooms.  All pinks and carnations in cultivation are hybrids derived from a limited number of species in the dianthus family so they do not come ‘true’ from seed, and  must be propagated by layering or by rooting cuttings.  While these processes are understood and practised by a substantial number of amateur gardeners there are many who consider  them a job only for the experts.  It is to dispel this myth and to encourage the wider cultivation of these beautiful plants (the name Dianthus means ‘the flower of the gods’) that the British National Carnation Society exists.

There are two distinct types of Carnation, the Hardy Border Carnation that can be grown in any garden with a sunny aspect and well-drained soil that is not too acid, and the less hardy Perpetual-flowering Carnation (so-called because it blooms at intervals throughout the year) which does need frost protection and so is usually grown in a greenhouse, not necessarily a heated one.  Pinks are all hardy, and flourish in the same conditions as the Hardy Border Carnation. All are perennial and will give years of pleasure.

So how does the British National Carnation Society (formed in 1949 by the merger of two older national societies) try to achieve its aims. It publishes ‘How to Grow’ booklets for each of the three main types of Dianthus, and makes available to members advice from expert amateur growers, who are always happy to pass on their experience and encourage beginners.  It stages displays at a number of the major Flower Shows in Great Britain and it stages four shows of its own where amateur growers compete for national honours on the show bench. These Shows, at Wisley in June, at Towcester in July, at Harrogate in September and at the RHS Hall in Westminster in October provide for the general public fine examples of the variety of beautiful blooms that can be grown, and an opportunity to meet some of those who grew them.  Until some years ago professional growers also competed, in their own classes, but today Carnations for the cut-flower trade – as seen in florists’ shops - come from overseas. The relatively small number of commercial growers in the UK are almost entirely devoted to supplying the amateur grower with plants, largely by mail order. Pinks from UK sources on the other hand are readily found in garden centres throughout the country.

The Pinks Open day held at Wisley in conjunction with the RHS in recent years,  always in June,  is another example of the Society’s ‘outreach’ with lectures and displays – including the use of carnations in flower-arranging. In 2010 BNCS held a similar event at the Garden Museum in London, at which it also announced its new association with the Alzheimer’s Society,  a national charity.

The affairs of BNCS are managed by its officers and a Council of fifteen members who are elected annually at the AGM which is of course open to all members. Sub-committees deal with the Show schedules and other events.

As in any group of enthusiasts the benefit of experience is best fostered and handed on by personal contact, and this is not easy to achieve in a national society.  Happily a number of Carnation Societies exist in various parts of the country: these hold meetings throughout the year both for instruction and social reasons and their own shows in the appropriate season.  Most of these Societies are affiliated to the British National Carnation Society and membership of BNCS gives ready access to a local society where one exists.  Members of BNCS  receive a substantial yearbook and two  Newsletters to keep them in touch with planned events.

Affiliated Societies

Bakewell Agricultural Society

Secretary: Clare Fletcher, The Showground, Bakewell, Derbyshire DE45 1AQ

Tel: 01629 812736


Carnation Club

President: Mohammed Raza Khan, 56-F Model Town Lahore Pakistan


Chorley & District Gardening Society

Secretary: Mr P J Rees, 109 Hayfield Avenue, Houghton, Preston PR5 0AX


Colne Horticultural Society

c/o Mr J Gott, 29 Peel Road, Colne, Lancs BB8 9NX


Doncaster & District Chrysanthemum Society

c/o Mr B Hogg, 118 Great North Road, Woodlands, Doncaster, DN6 7HT


Hartlepool Horticultural Show

Secretary: Mr Tom Hammond, 66 Fenton Road Hartlepool, TS25 2LQ


Keighley Horticultural Society

32 Nessfie3ld Drive, Exley Head, Keighley, West Yorkshire BD22 6NP


Lancashire & Cheshire Carnation Society

Secretary: Mr K E Horton, 36 Beehive Green, West Houghton, Bolton BL5 3HS


Leeds Horticultural Society

Secretary: Mr P Campbell, 41 Roman Avenue, Leeds, LS8 2AN


Mottram Road Allotments Association

Mr F H Ashton, 32 Groby Street, Stalybridge, Cheshire, SK15 2NN

Tel: 0161 3384992


North of England (Rosecarpe) Horticultural Society

Secretary: Mrs D Bell, 11 Jones Street, Birtley, Chester-le-street, County Durham DH3 1DZ

Tel: 0191 4105895 email


North of England Horticultural Society

North of England Enterprises Ltd. Regional Agricultural Centre, Great Yorkshire Showground, Harrogate HG2  8NZ

Tel: 01423 546158


Northampton & District Carnation Society

Secretary: Mrs Shirley Shurvington, 28 Ryland's Road, Moulton, Northants, NN3 7RE


Poynton Horticultural & Agricultural Society

Secretary: Mrs Jill Share, 120 Dickens Lane, Poynton, Stockport, Cheshire, SK12 1NU



R.H.S. Lindley Library

Mr C Ashill, 80 Vincent Square, London, SW1P 2PE


Shrewsbury Horticultural Society

Quarry Lodge, Shrewsbury, SY1 1RN


Southport Flower Show

Clare Fletcher, Victoria Park, Southport, PR8 2BZ

Tel: 01704 547147


The Great North Carnation Society

Secretary, Mr K J Mastaglio, 52 Abbotside Close, Urpeth Grange, Ouston Chester-le-street, County Durham DH2 1TQ

Tel: 0191 4106725



The Malvern Autumn Show

Secretary: Mr D Smillie, The Three Counties Showground, Malvern, Worcestershire, WR13 6NW


The Yorkshire Carnation Society

Secretary: Mr B Gamble, 17 Welton Old Road, Welto East Yorks, HU15 1NU


Ynyswen Gardening Club

c/o Mr Ivor Mace, 2 Mace Lane, Ynyswen, Treorci, Rhonnda, CF42 6DS

BNCS 2020 Council Members


Chairman: Mr Liam Ledger

Secretary: Mr Ian Ledger

Deputy Chairman: Mr Barrie Gamble

Treasurer: Mr Graham R Davis

Council Members

Mr Peter Jackson

Mrs June Jackson

Mrs Fay Seagrave

Mr Phil Cross

Mr John Eddington

Mr Eddie Payne