From wedding bouquets to funeral wreaths, carnations can be seen everywhere in human culture. Their colorful but delicately folded petals have made them one of the foremost decorative flowers, from the gardens of the Ottoman Empire to American Mothers Day bouquets, via Chinese medicines and French Empresses. In Carnation, Twigs Way explores the extraordinary history of this inimitable flower.
The author traces the trials and tribulations of early breeders – compelled by florists' fascinations for the striped and spotted – which led to delightfully colored (and delightfully named) varieties such as Lustie Gallant and Bleeding Swain. She looks at the symbolism of the red and white – and even green – carnations made famous by Oscar Wilde, and glides through many of the rooms in literature and history that we have filled with the carnation's glorious scent. Travelling from Europe to China, Way explores how carnations have been used by herbalists the world over as a treatment for ailments to both mind and body, and she looks at the many paintings that have attempted to capture their unique complexities. Lavishly illustrated and full of unexpected delights, Carnation will – like the carnation itself – charm the mind and invigorate the senses.
"A well-researched history, which brings a whole new perspective to one of the gems of the plant world."
– Christine Walkden, gardener and British television presenter
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Twigs Way is a writer, researcher and speaker who is fascinated by the social and cultural aspects of garden history. Her publications include works in the Shire series, including Allotments, Tudor Gardens and Cottage Gardens. She has also published A Nation of Gardeners in partnership with the Garden Museum, London. She lives in Cambridgeshire.