Dianthus Chabaud is a vintage carnation that dates back as early as 1904. Pronounced shab-o, they were developed for florists for use as a cut flower. Deliciously coloured, the white to creamy white petals of Chabaud ‘Benigna’ are outlined with the fruitiest of plums and raspberry reds.
From late spring through midsummer, the ruffled, sweetly fragrant blooms are displayed profusely on slender, sturdy stems. Once established, they will provide a continuous harvest of blooms for cutting from the end of April until the end of September.
Over the years there have been many developments in carnations, many reputed to be clove scented and yes, if you try hard enough, you may get the faintest of faint hint of cloves. Chabaud carnations are something else being almost more clove scented than cloves themselves.
Dianthus caryophyllus Carnations have been a favourite of gardeners for generations. They produce bushy, base branching evergreen plants to around 60cm (24in) tall and 30cm (12in) wide. The linear, blue-green, glaucous foliage is a good foil for most plants. All in all, they make an extremely charming border plant.
Hardy, tough and very easy to grow, Dianthus can be grown in any garden with a sunny aspect and a rich, well drained soil. Water them during dry periods, once or twice per week. Add a general purpose fertiliser once or twice a month, but no more than that or you will get too much foliage. They have few problems with insects and disease. Deadhead spent flowers to prolong bloom time.
The petals of Dianthus are edible. Not terribly filling but they will prove to be the most magical of ingredients, turning a green salad into a flowery mead and a scoop of ice-cream into a fairy castle.