Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Simple Beauty of Carnations

If your birthday comes in January, first, let me say "happy birthday to you!" and apologize for the lateness of this post. Now, let me tell you about your birth flower, the carnation.

Long ago in ancient Rome, carnations were known as "Jove's Flower"; a tribute to one of their beloved gods. Later, it became known as the national flower of Spain, the provincial flower of the autonomous community of the Balearic Islands and the symbol of the Portuguese Carnation Revolution. In Korea, red and pink carnations came to be used for showing love and gratitude toward parents on Parents Day. Again, on Teacher's Day, the Korean people express admiration and respect for teachers with carnations as the flower carries for them the meanings of admiration, love and gratitude.

In Victorian times, the complex language of flowers known as floriography assigned different meanings to each of the most common carnation colors: pink for a woman's love, white for disdain, purple for capriciousness and whimsy, red for "my heart aches for you", yellow to say "you have disappointed me" and rejection, and striped carnations for refusal. Later still, in 1907 America, as Anna Jarvis founded our Mother's Day holiday, she chose the white carnation as its emblem—the color white to represent the purity of a mother's love, the flower itself because it was her own mother's favorite.

The state flower of Ohio is a scarlet carnation; a choice made to honor William McKinley, Ohio Governor and U.S. President, who was assassinated in 1901. He regularly wore a scarlet carnation on his lapel. And most of us are familiar with the iconic "white sport coat and a pink carnation" of 1950's music and fashion. (Extra credit if you know who sang that song)

The simply elegant carnation arrangements you see here were designed by lifestyle expert and favorite blogger Eddie Ross. Known in design and decor circles as the carnation's biggest champion, Eddie has managed to elevate the status of this humble flower through such creative endeavors as you can see here and here and here. If you are planning a wedding or any other special occasion and searching for big style on a not so big budget, consider using carnations. With guidance and inspiration from Eddie Ross.

While you're clicking around through Eddie's beautiful blog, you may notice a celebration taking place. Recently, Eddie was asked to represent Elle Decor magazine with the design of one of three rooms on view at Bloomingdale's. The 2010 Big Window Challenge was then judged over a two-week period by viewers who voted via text or online. Voting closed on the 28th and results were announced yesterday.

No surprise to those of us watching and voting, Eddie's window won! You can see two of my favorite vignettes below and read the whole story of how the window came to be here. Congratulations, Eddie!

Top image "Carnations" by Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell via All other images via


Jennifer, Inside Out Colour and Design said...

Carnations used to be my favourite flower. I think my tastes have expanded and now Oriental Lilies, Tulips and Iris are some of my favourite. But I do love these images you have posted. They are the perfect wedding flower, aren't they?

Anonymous said...

Very informative post with some great images. Eddie is one talented designer. I think I would be hesitant about giving anyone a white carnation now though because I'm not sure if it would express disdain or purity? :-) Have a great day Tracy!

Lisa@Pickles and Cheese said...

I love what Eddie Ross creates and I love carnations. I love the spicy way they smell. I think they get overlooked because they can be inexpensive. But that is one of the reasons to love them. You can get lots for the price and so many colors. I enjoyed your post!

Averill said...

I've always sort of dismissed carnations, but Eddie Ross's arrangements really make me question that. The first arrangement in particular is spectacular!

Melanie said...

Don't we all love Eddie Ross? He is the King of staging. Lovely, just lovely:)

Love Where You Live said...

I've never liked carnations (sorry January). But I must say that I do like the second image you have posted, where together they all form an intriguing ball of pretty. -s

soodie :: said...

i used to detest carnations because it reminded me of bad dates in high school i went with to homecoming or prom. but in the past few years seeing what extraordinary, simple and bold arrangements the flower can lend itself to makes me just love them.

great post tracy. and of course, LOVE the history lesson. thanks.

Renae said...

I love the carnation pom pom! They CAN be pretty, who knew?

Kathysue said...

I love pink carnations. I think caranations smell like a florist shop throughout the house and they last forever. I did a post today on flowers and our friend Eddie is featured as well as Ann Spiro, I posted it for my East Coast friends who are still stuck in the snow. You might enjoy it. Your blog is lovely I have spent some time going through some of your post and have become a follower. Lovely, Kathysue



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