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Distributed for Reaktion Books


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 this book, 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, this book will—like the carnation itself—charm the mind and invigorate the senses.

224 pages | 70 color plates, 30 halftones | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2016


Biological Sciences: Botany


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“The carnation has had a colorful and complicated history and 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.”

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. Recommended.” 


“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

“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 "Tales of the Rose Tree"

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