In The Garden

Flowers of the Month


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January - Carnation

Carnations have long been a favorite flower of mine.  It only seems fiting that it is also the birth flower for January, the month two of my very most favorite people were born; my sister Terri and her youngest daughter; Madeleine. 

The Carnation’s wonderful, heady spicy scent and its filly, ruffled appearance make it one of the world’s most endearing flower through the centuries. 

The fact they last so long after they have been cut and put in a vase or flower arrangement, makes it even more endearing.  A carnation flower can usually stay alive for long hours even after it is removed from water. In fact, the flower looks fresh after several hours and that is why it is preferred during ceremonial decorations.

The have been know as the Flower of Love or Flower of gods.  This comes from their scientific meanging:  dianthus “dianthus” (dios= god Zeus and anthos= flower).  In ancient Rome this flower were known as “Jove’s Flower” as a tribute to one of their beloved gods .

They are one of the world’s oldest cultivated flowers.  In the beginning they were usually pale pink or peach.  Now you can find them in almost any color amaginable, pastel, bright and even neon thanks to tricks florist are able to do.  However, the ones you find in most gardens today are pinks, yellows, white, red, burgandy purples, orange and peach colors.

The ancient Greeks and Romans used them specifically for decorative purposes.  Used in garlands, wreaths and other decor projects. Even ceremonial crowns in ancient Greece.

The meanings of carnations include fascination, distinction, and love. Like many other flowers, different messages can also be expressed with the flower's different color varieties.

WHITE:  Pure/Sweet Love, Good Luck, Purity, innocence, faithfulness, devotion and gratitude.

PINK: Mother's Love; I’ll never forget you!

RED: Admiration, Friendship.

RED, Dark: Deep Love, Affection, Passion.

STRIPED: Regret, Refusal. Lost or forbidden love.

PURPLE: fickleness, and unreliability.

YELLOW: Disappointment, Dejection. Lost or forbidden love.

** Chances are the person did not look up their meanings, so enjoy these bright and cheerful flowers.  When in doubt; go with a wide range of colors; creating a beautiful palette of color expressing this flower’s general meaning; Affection, Health and Energy!


Korea: Pink and red carnations are used for showing love and gratitude toward their parents on Parents Day.

France: traditional funeral flower: given in condolence for the death of a loved one. In 19th century France,  when a theatre director sent an actress a bunch of red carnations, stinting on the roses, she knew she was about to be fired. Thus especially in France and Francophone culture – the carnation symbolizes bad luck and misfortune.

Hong Kong: white carnations symbolize death and misfortune.


MOTHER’S DAY: Hundreds of thousands of pink carnations are snatched up and delivered to mothers all over the world.  This meaning has evolved over time, and now a red carnation may be worn if one's mother is alive, and a white one if she has died.  This is especially true in Canada.

MAY DAY:  Red carnations are worn as a symbol of the labor movement in some countries, such as Austria and Italy


National flower of Spain, Monaco and Slovenia

Provincial flower of Balearic Islands.

State flower of Ohio is a Scarlet Carnation.

Did you know . . . .

The Petals are actually edible and on the sweet side.

From the 12th through the 18th centuries; carnations were used to flavor beer, ale and wine.

From the 1600s to present day; they are still used in the French liqueur; Chartreuse.

Today, you can steep carnation petals in wine and use them as candy or as decorations on cakes and desserts. The miniature dianthus petals taste like nutmeg and clove. These can be added to salads to add spice and color. 

REMEMBER:  You also should NEVER use pesticides or other chemicals on any part of any plant that produces blossoms you plan to eat.   * Never harvest flowers growing by the roadside.

Here is a great site that gives detailed info on how to prepare them and different ideas on how to use them in food prep.


“Of trembling winter, the fairest flowers o' the season are our carnations.”

~ Shakespeare; The Winter’s Tale


You can visit Dragonfly Dreams for more information on the Flowers of the Month and how they are used in Aromatherpy, Perfume and such.


June * Rose