This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
(Dianthus Caryophyllus, Linn.). Cary-ophylldcese. Choice and popular flower-garden and greenhouse plants of the pink tribe; in North America grown mostly under glass as florists' flowers. PL. XXII.
Plate XXII. Carnations. - Types of the American winter-flowering varieties. (Half size.)
The carnation is a half-hardy perennial, herbaceous, suffrutescent at base: height 2 ft.: stem branching, with tumid joints: leaves linear, glaucous, opposite: flowers terminal, mostly solitary; petals 5, flesh-colored, very broad, beardless, margins toothed; calyx cylindrical, with scaly bracts at base. June-Aug. S. Eu.; occasionally met in the wild state in England, where it was introduced through cultivation A single-flowered and undeveloped carnation is shown in Fig. 801. A section of a single flower is depicted in Fig. 802, showing the 2 styles and the 5 stamens; also the bracts at the bottom, in 2 series, beneath the calyx. In Fig. 803 some of the beginnings of doubling are shown.
General development. (By Geo. C. Butz.)
Theophrastus, who lived about 300 years B.C., gave the name Dianthus (Greek dios, divine; anthos, flower) to the group, probably suggested by the delightful fragrance. The specific name Caryophyllus (Greek, caryon, nut; and phyllon, leaf) has been applied to the clove-tree (Caryophyllus aromaticus), and because of the clove-like fragrance of the carnation this name was applied to it. The name carnation (Latin, carnatio, from caro, carnis, flesh) has reference to the flesh-color of the flowers of the original type. This plant has been in cultivation more than 2,000 years, for Theophrastus (History of Plants, translation) says: "The Greeks cultivate roses, gillyflowers, violets, narcissi, and iris," gillyflower being the old English name for the carnation. It was not, however, until the beginning of the sixteenth century that the development of the carnation into numerous varieties made an impression upon its history. The original flesh-color of its flowers was already broken up into red and white.
The gardeners of Italy, France, Germany, Holland and England, with their respective ideals of beauty in this flower, contributed so many varieties that in 1597 Gerard wrote that "to describe each new variety of carnation were to roll Sisyphus' stone or number the sands."
There have been many attempts at classification, but most of them, like the varieties they serve, have disappeared. Two of them are as follows: A French scheme arranges all varieties into three classes: Grenadins (Fig. 801), including those with strong perfumes, flowers of medium size, either single or double, petals fringed, and of but one color; Flamands, including those with large flowers, round and double, rising in the center to form a convex surface, petals entire, either unicolored or striped with two or more colors; Fancies, including those with colors arranged in bands on light grounds, the petals toothed or not. The English classification of these varieties makes four categories: Selfs, or those possessing only one color in the petals; Flakes, or those having a pure ground of white or yellow and flaked or striped with one color, as scarlet, purple or rose; Bizarres, or those having a pure ground marked as in the Flakes, but with two or three colors; and Picotees (Fig. 804), or those having a pure ground of white or yellow, and each petal bordered with a band of color at the margin.
This last class has been regarded with the distinction of a race.
Fig. 801. A single-flowered Grenadin carnation. (X 2/3)
In the early part of the nineteenth century, English gardeners exercised very great care in the growing of carnations to mature only perfect flowers. Imperfect and superfluous petals were extracted with forceps; petals appearing out of place were arranged in a perfect imbrication; the calyx-tube was cut partly down between the teeth, to prevent excessive splitting at one side and to give more freedom to the expansion of the flower. These and many more tedious details seem to have wrought the depreciation of this flower about the middle of the nineteenth century.
All the foregoing has reference to those types of carnations that are little known or grown in America at the present day; the varieties so common in Europe are usually kept in coldframes or coolhouses during the winter, and as spring approaches the plants are brought into their blooming quarters, for no flower is expected to appear until the month of July, when there is a great profusion of blossoms, but for a short season. Therefore, they can all be classed as a summer race. They are also grown permanently in the open.