Ode to the carnation- “nature’s bastards”

A flower is a miracle.  A carnation certainly so.  Did you know carnations are “banned” as decor in certain facilities?  They are supposedly cheap, low class, ugly, unacceptable.

I adore carnations and I have to speak up.  How can this beautiful flower, known to be GOOD FOR HUMMINGBIRDS, BEES AND BUTTERFLIES, be so vilified?

Sir, the year growing ancient,
Not yet on summer’s death, nor on the birth
Of trembling winter, the fairest Hermione’s statue
flowers o’ the season
Are our carnations and streak’d gillyvors,
Which some call nature’s bastards: of that kind
Our rustic garden’s barren; and I care not
To get slips of them.

– Shakespeare, A Winter’s Tale

Detail of a border from the Hours of Joanna I of Castile, Netherlands (Ghent?), c. 1500 [public domain]
I loved my special bouquet of pink carnations and baby’s breath in 1986, now dry and tucked away in a shoebox, my cinnamon smelling red carnations in my Robert’s Creek garden in 1999, that I can make a joyous bouquet for very little money when I have very little money.  My mom and I loved getting a batch of carnations and adding wildflowers and greenery during our walks with Tobey.

Pink carnations carry the greatest significance, beginning with the belief that they first appeared on earth from the Virgin Mary’s tears – making them the symbol of a mother’s undying love. [source]

[public domain]

While some scholars suggest that their name comes from the word “corone” (flower garlands) or “coronation” because of its use in Greek ceremonial crowns, others propose that it’s derived from from the Latin “carnis” (flesh) referring to the flower’s original pinkish-hued color or “incarnacyon” (incarnation), referring to the incarnation of God-made flesh… … the crucifixion (pinks smell like cloves, cloves look like nails, nails were used to crucify Jesus)… [source]

Carnation type flowers. Botanical illustration, medieval Italy by Ulisse Aldrovandi [public domain]
[public domain]




Adult butterflies feed on the nectar that carnations and other flowers produce. Flitting from flower to flower in search of that nectar, they also pollinate the plants. Pollen is gathered and distributed as the butterfly, on its slender legs, moves about the flower. In the process, some pollen grains from the flower’s stamen stick to the butterfly, while others, from blossoms already visited, are deposited on the flower’s stigma or pollen receptor. Butterflies are attracted to carnations’ bright colors and scents, which may, as with other scented species, mimic the scent of pheromones naturally produced by the insects. [source]

[public domain]

Instead of being a carnation hater, take a second look[source]

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