Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Dianthus caryophyllus Smith’s ‘Duke of Wellington’

For generic information on the garden carnation see Dianthus caryophyllus L.  Smith’s ‘Duke of Wellington’ is a scarlet bizarre carnation.  ‘A large bright-coloured flower, pod good, luxuriant in its growth, and a very desirable variety.’  [BF p217/1844].  Gard. Chron. 1842.  Gard. Chron. 1843.

Horticultural & Botanical History

Carnations have been selected by gardeners for improved varieties for centuries.  ‘The Dianthus Caryophyllus or wild Clove is generally considered as the parent of the Carnation, and may be found, if not in its wild state, at least single, on the walls of Rochester Castle, where it has been long known to flourish, and where it produces two varieties in point of colour, the pale and deep red.  Flowers which are cultivated from age to age are continually producing new varieties, hence there is no standard as to name, beauty, or perfection, amongst them, but what is perpetually fluctuating; thus the red Hulo, the blue Hulo, the greatest Granado, with several others celebrated in the time of Parkinson, have long since been consigned to oblivion; and it is probable that the variety now exhibited [Franklin’s ‘Tartar’], may, in a few years, share a similar fate; for it would be vanity in us to suppose, that the Carnation, by assiduous culture, may not, in the eye of the Florist, be yet considerably improved.’  [BM t.39/1788]. 

In the early Victorian era the conformation and other characteristics of a Florists’ flower were set down by the horticultural societies and specialist clubs being formed all over Britain and Europe, some of them already many decades old by the 1840s.  The characteristics of a worthy Florists’ Carnation were summarised in the Floricultural Cabinet: ‘The flower large, consisting of a number of well-formed petals, neither so many as to give it a crowded appearance, nor so few as to make it appear thin and empty; the petals broad and stiff; the guard one well rounded, and should rise a little above the calyx, and then turn off gracefully in a horizontal direction, supporting the interior ones, which should gradually taper towards the crown.  Bizarres must have three colours in every petal; flakes two; colours strong and bright; the stripes clear and distinct; the fewer freckles or spots the better; all the colours nearly equal, or the most brilliant colour should predominate; the white pure and bright.’  [FC p.133/1855].  

History at Camden Park

In October 1849 a large consignment of plants was sent by Veitch and Sons, Exeter, to J. C. Bidwill at Camden Park.  The consignment included named Carnations and Picotees, the present plant included.  [MP A2943]. 



Published Jan 26, 2009 - 04:59 PM | Last updated Aug 27, 2011 - 04:56 PM

Family Caryophyllaceae
Region of origin

Garden origin, England

Common Name

Florists’ Carnation

Name in the Camden Park Record

Carnation Smith’s ‘Duke of Wellington’

Confidence level high