As a child I was very interested in birth stones, birth flowers, and any other things which were assigned to people by month. However I sometimes lamented that the stone and flower assigned to me were not as pretty as I wanted. My flower was the carnation, and carnations were boring. They were everywhere. Added to many bouquets as filler flowers between the flashier blooms. In my 40s I’ve come to appreciate carnations for almost exactly the reasons I thought they were boring as a child. Carnations are used as filler flowers because they come in a vast array of colors naturally and are easily dyed to be all sorts of non-natural colors. This means that carnations are versatile and adaptable. They make themselves useful no matter where they are. Carnations are also sturdy. They can be grown with long stems, cut, shipped, and still arrive a the sales point ready to be beautiful for almost two weeks. When I buy cut carnations, they continue to be beautiful for far longer than the flashier blooms they’re packaged beside. I’ve also discovered that many of the flashier blooms have little to no fragrance (or have far too much fragrance) while many carnations have a gentle fragrance that is detectable up close, but doesn’t fill the whole room.
I supposed I could draw these thoughts into larger considerations about how our tastes change from youth to middle age, or perhaps that I’ve become pedestrian enough to finally match my birth flower. But mostly, I just wanted to appreciate carnations out loud, because sometimes the basic, versatile, reliable things in our lives don’t get as much appreciation as they should.