Carnations are the birth flower for January. A flower symbolising love and romance.
Flowers have been given as birthday gifts since Roman times. The Victorians further developed this with their coy language of flowers and today we have a recognised birth flower for each month. A kind of floral zodiac.
Carnations were included in Renaissance paintings showing engagements and still feature in weddings today. Button holes, corsages and bouquets made from carnations are a traditional sight.
The Carnations proper name is Dianthus. In Greek Dios means God and anthus means flower. So, the “flower of God” or “sacred flower”. Christian legend tells us carnations sprang from the ground where the Virgin Mary’s tears fell whilst weeping for her son at his crucifixion. They remain a popular choice for Mother’s Day bouquets.
Carnations grow fairly easily from seed. Here at Suttons we recommend Carnation Chabaud Giant Mix. A tall, half-hardy perennial with beautifully fringed flowers. Sow from January to March and you’ll be enjoying the double flowers from July to early October.
Carnation Chabaud Giant Mix are highly fragrant flowers with a lovely clove-like scent. The edible petals can be used to add colour to salads and other dishes. When used as cut flowers they will last longer than most flowers, just remember to regularly change the water.
Another type of Carnation is Dianthus Sweet William. A cottage garden favourite Sweet William is again sweetly scented. These plants are fairly short-lived but with 16 value plug plants costing just £9.99 they are not expensive. Seed packets are also available. So why not slip a seed packet in with any birthday cards you are sending this month?