Plant of the Week: Dianthus Caryophyllus ‘Chomley Farran’


Breeding is a strange thing and intuitive thing. A family tree of decisions and genes and colors melding into rainbows of purpose and mistake. So many of my friends are having babies these days, you wonder what will these strange alien creatures (us) coming out will look like. I saw this photo recently of a baby face coming out of the vaginal cavity. It was pretty much the best picture I have ever seen, I wish we could all have photos like that, giant screaming baby faces coming out of a dark holes for the first time. Anyway, I digress, I have never been a flower breeder, but I can imagine it must be like having thousands of little babies, often. Except, you get the pick out the ones you like and the throw away the ugly ones. ‘Chomley Farran’ is one of the beautiful ones. It sparkles and shines in the son and its bicolored mishmash of stripes make me genuinely feel a sense of joy on a shitty day.

Dianthus Caryophyllus, a carnation, a flower we’ve seen a million times. I never cared for them much. For some reason the idea that you can stick it in food coloring and it turns blue or lime green has never attracted me to it. Yet, ‘Chomley Farran’ sounds like a proper English gentlemen. A little bit like a Darcy or what is that guys name on “Bridget Jones Diary”? It begins in England, there used to be hundreds of these kinds of carnations, they were called “Bizzares”. ‘Chomley’ is one of the last of the good old boys of the   Victorian era of insanely awesome carnations, as I imagine they might have been. So many things are dissapearing these days – animals, plants, languages. I always wonder if in the span of infinity they will ever be birth again into the endless amounts of possibilities.

Some flowers are for sheer numbers, for a wall of color, to strew around and make garlands of, to throw onto your bed. ‘Chomley Farran’ is a secret kind of flower, the kind you might talk to in the corner about your busy day while petting its silky smoothy (and sparkly!) petals. I think you can candy them, but do not quote me on that. This Dianthus is extremely rare and I have only seen it being sold at Annie’s Annuals in Richmond. I have found it to be relatively drought tolerant and it grows quickly. Though the flowers are not long lived, it is a perennial. Buy it because it has no other purpose then to bring you bliss.





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