With a history that dates back more than 2,000 years, it's not surprising that carnations are deeply embedded in symbolism. Originating in the Mediterranean region, the flower takes its Latin name from 'Dios' (God) and 'anthos' (flower) indicating just how high a regard the carnation was held in.
The flowers were extremely popular with the ancient Romans, who used them to create wreaths and sweet smelling perfumes. They were also often depicted in religious art and for Christians became a symbol for the suffering of Christ. While they may not be as highly revered today, carnations remain one of the best-selling cut flowers in the world.
Scientific name: Dianthus
Common name: Carnation (both Spray and Standard varieties)
Availability: All year round
Vase life: Approx. 14 days
Colour range: All colours in all tones, shades and tints apart from blue and black.
Top Tip: Tease out closed carnations by cupping the flower between thumb and forefinger and fluff gently.
For the HomeCarnations are hugely versatile flowers whether used as a focal flower or as a support act in a vase of other blooms. They work particularly well with bold flowers such as large headed roses, sunflowers or lilies. The spray varieties are equally versatile and look especially nice when combined with similar sized summer flowers such as nigella, spray roses or veronica.
Why not experiment at home or ask your florist to create a bespoke bouquet in your favourite colours?
Carnations are a pretty flower for weddings and offer good value for money due to their year round availability. They are especially a popular choice for buttonholes but would work just as well in arrangements for the wedding venue, adding colour and texture. The beautifully fragrant Dianthus plumarius (pinks) are a perfect vintage wedding flower.
"The versatility of the carnation and the fact that they are available in so many colours and forms makes them ideal for brides looking to co-ordinate their wedding theme. Carnations are also great for creating pomanders for flower girls or younger bridesmaids to carry or even to decorate pew ends."Karen Broxholme, Wedding Flowers Expert.
The Meaning of Carnation
In the language of flowers carnations symbolise 'devotion'. Its for this reason that many Renaissance painters chose to include this flower in their engagement scenes in the 15th and 16th century.
Today, in many countries around the world, pink carnations are often given to mothers on Mothering Sunday as an expression of love and gratitude.
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