Carnations permeate our culture from the wedding bed to the funeral wreath. Derided in Shakespeare as ‘nature’s bastards’, they challenged the tulip as the florist’s favourite flower, and went on to give their blessing to both a military coup and a Soho night club. Spanning the world from the gardens of the Ottoman Empire to the Mothers’ Day traditions of America via Chinese medicines and French empresses, Carnation is the first book to tell the cultural history of this hugely important flower.
Twigs Way traces the trials and tribulations of early breeders, the florists’ fascination with striped and spotted varieties, delightful names such as the ‘Lustie Gallant’ and the ‘Bleeding Swain’, and the symbolism of the red, white and even the green carnation, which was made famous by Oscar Wilde. Those who appreciate the carnation’s glorious scent, both sensuous and soothing, will delight in the knowledge that the carnation can heal body and mind, used by herbalists in Europe and China. As it ranges from the traditions of the medieval marriage bed to Renaissance paintings of the Madonna and Child, this lavishly illustrated book will entertain anyone with an interest in history, art or culture. It is full of unexpected delights that will charm the mind and invigorate the senses – just like the carnation itself.
‘The carnation has had a colourful and complicated history and Twigs Way makes for good company as she tackles centuries of stories relating to this iconic plant . . . The book is full of intriguing social history that provides a well-rounded picture of the impact of a plant that has meant so much to so many for hundreds of years.’ – The English Garden
‘Incorporates beautiful illustrations and artistic depictions of its namesake flower throughout its pages, as well as a fascinating insight into our relationship with this striking bloom . . . Carnation is a beautifully presented book, full of intriguing historical context and stories . . . Highly recommended for keen botanists or horticulturists.' — Eden Magazine
‘This book is a joyful retelling of Western European history through the mutability of a flower, a roadside weed that humans made good. After reading through this work, the reader will be more attentive when the next bouquet arrives and more mindful of the long human history behind this fascinating flower.’ – Choice
‘A well researched history which brings a whole new perspective to one of the gems of the plant world.’ – Christine Walkden, gardener and broadcaster
‘Welcome to the world of Bizarres, Picotees and Malmaisons, of Tuggie’s Princess, Seattle Shaggy and Mrs Sinkins and the histories and legends of their carnation clan – sheer indulgence for gardeners who dream of a border of Clove Pinks, and the rest of us who just dream!’ – Jane Brown, author of books, including Tales of the Rose Tree
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.