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Carnations – A Sex and the City Favorite?
It seems that ever since Charlotte from Sex and the City dismissed carnations with the dismissive “they’re filler flowers,” women everywhere have been overlooking the upturned nose flower. But if you want to talk about rugged hardiness, eclectic versatility, and fantastic color, maybe it’s time to rethink the carnation’s role as a “filler flower” and start thinking about reserving it as a “main attraction.”
The brilliance of carnations is that they last. You can plant them as seeds, and although they usually do best outdoors, you can plant them in garden boxes or larger pots to enjoy indoors. They like full sun and when cut, their flowers outlast most other flowers. While pink and white are the most common colors, carnations come in a variety of colors, including yellow, purple, and striped varieties. Additionally, white carnations can be tinted to any color that best suits the look you are going for.
Flowers can add a unique twist to an outfit, and both men and women can benefit from the versatility and durability of the carnation. A carnation tucked into a lapel or buttonhole in the morning can look fresh all day and adds a certain dose of old world to an otherwise typical outfit. Both William McKinley, the former US president, and the author, Oscar Wilde, famously wore carnations on their lapels.
Since white carnations are readily available, it’s easy to grab a bunch and color them with food coloring. You can match them to the ball gown or your wedding colors for boutonnieres, mother’s corsages and bridesmaid bouquets. Liven up St. Patrick’s Day with a bouquet of green carnations to decorate your dinner table, or get into the Halloween spirit with spooky black carnations. If you plan to tint your flowers for a specific occasion, allow at least one day for this process so that the flowers have time to absorb the rich shade of your chosen color.
If you are a teacher, tinting white carnations is a great little science experiment for your elementary students. All you need is a bunch of carnations, paper cups, water and like food coloring. My first grade science teacher told us that red and blue food coloring works the fastest, but the more colors you have available, the more your students will experiment with mixing. Cut each stem at an angle and place in a cup half filled with water. Add a generous amount of food coloring (at least 12-15 drops). This experiment is best done in the morning so your students can observe the color change at the end of the school day and then again as it changes the next morning.
Oh, Charlotte York, how wrong you were. Carnations are cheap and sturdy, but that hardly qualifies them as filler flowers. So go ahead, order a batch and decorate every room in your house, and when you get over the flower snobbery that Charlotte instilled in us, go out and invest in a few packets of seeds and turn your garden (indoor or outdoor) into a colorful feast.
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