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 ‘Nulli Secundus’

For generic information on the garden Carnation and Picotee see Dianthus caryophyllus L.  ‘Nulli Secundus’ is a purple edged picotee.  

Horticultural & Botanical History

Usually referred to as Mansley’s ‘Nulli Secundus’, although not actually raised by Mansley, as he himself wrote in the pages of the Floricultural Cabinet: ‘I take the liberty of sending you a short notice of a very fine Picotee raised by Mr. Wm. Mitchell of Warley, near this town [Halifax].  This extraordinary variety is a purple, of a large size, well formed, and possessing all the essential properties in a perfect flower.  It was sold out last autumn; twenty-one pairs, at 10s. each pair; and was named Nulli secundi, previous to which it had been shown several times, and invariably carried away the first prize.’  [FC p.142/1841]. 

Despite the forgoing ‘Nulli Secundus’ is often described as red edged.  ‘White very pure, and the edging remarkably neat; petals well formed; much too thin for growers in the south, and certainly not having a petal to spare in this part of the country; it is nevertheless a variety that will be much grown.’  [Gard. Chron. 1843]. 

The Floricultural Cabinet figures the flower and is equally enthusiastic: ‘This beautiful Picotee was raised by Mr. Robert Mansley, of Halifax, in Yorkshire, and of its class stands unequalled. The purity of colour, the perfection of edging, and nobleness of the flower, place it pre-eminent. We received blooms of it at the time we were attending the Carnation and Picotee shows in the Midland and Southern Counties, but though we had, at many of the exhibitions, carefully to inspect the specimens, we did not see one equal to this kind. We understand that it has taken the first prize wherever exhibited. It well deserves a place in every collection.’  [FC p.266/1841.]   

When introduced ‘Nulli Secundus’ caused quite a sensation, its petals were ‘so beautifully smooth, and the lace round each so correct, that in spite of wanting two more tiers, it became a great favourite; doubtless this flower will be the prolific parent of many splendid sorts.’  [Gard. Chron. 1846]. 

A few years later the Floricultural Cabinet still considered it to be excellent breeding stock: ‘Heavy-edged, purple picotee: pod pretty good; petals very firm, thick and smooth, and well formed; ground clear and without speck; edging very regular.  As it is rather deficient in the number of its petals it will not on this account stand as a first-rate of its class, but the edging being neat and regular and seldom barring, and the petals being thick and firm of texture, which gives it a character which, when well grown, it will maintain, more especially as it is invaluable to those who wish to obtain seed.’  [FC p.42/1849]. 

‘A northern flower, consequently thin, but deserving of its name, possessing as it does, all that constitutes a first-rate show flower; white good, edging heavy and well defined, and shape excellent.  A few more petals would be decidedly an advantage and improvement, but altogether it is really Nulli secundus.’  [BF p.219/1844].  The difference between northern- and southern-bred flowers is alluded to by a number of contemporary commentators.

For further information on the Victorian Picotee see Dianthus caryophyllus Mathew’s ‘Ne Plus Ultra’.

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 Apr 12, 2009 - 02:30 PM | Last updated Aug 26, 2011 - 02:41 PM

The painting shows a white, purple edged carnation and purple trumpet flowers.

Dianthus caryophyllus Mansley's 'Nulli Secundus', a Picotee | FC p.265/1841 | BHL


Family Caryophyllaceae
Region of origin

Garden origin, England

Common Name

Florists’ Picotee

Name in the Camden Park Record

Picotee ‘Nulli Secundus’

Confidence level high