Traditionally a much sought after flower, after being given bad press by designer florists and sophisticated stylists the humble carnation has suffered a decline in popularity over the last twenty or thirty years. Since the vintage country look became desirable, however, carnations have become a firm favourite again, and are now the best-selling cut-flower in the UK. With their long-lasting petals, great value and fragrant blooms, they make a truly beautiful bouquet for any occasion, from a partners birthday to Mothering Sunday.
The botanical name for carnation, Dianthus, means ‘divine flower’, and each different colour symbolizes something different; the pale red represents admiration, while the rich, velvety red talks of a deep love and passion. A white flower symbolizes sweetness and innocence, the yellow implies indifference, the purple denotes whimsy and the pink carnations are the most renowned and significant – believed to have appeared on earth as a result of the Virgin Mary’s tears, they’re said to represent a mother’s love, leaving them as the obvious choice for a Mothering Sunday bouquet.
As well as being available in a wide range of colours, carnations also appear in a variety of sizes; the standard bloom consists of one large flower per stem, while the smaller spray carnations have lots of buds shooting off. Popular garden varieties include pinks, which are superb for adding fragrance and colour to a dull border or bed, and their relative, the Sweet William, which have a heady, beautiful scent.
With their wonderful fragrance, delicate petals and range of both vibrant and calming colours, it’s no surprise that carnations are now the most popular cut-flower in the UK; they make ideal posies, look stunning at weddings in both the bridal bouquet and as button hole decorations, and embody the shabby-chic country style that is currently so popular. Mixed together with sweet peas, Sweet Williams and lavender, and tied with a delicate ribbon, they make a perfect surprise summer gift for a relation, or a token of love for a partner.