Monday, October 01, 2007

Fashionable Flowers




Of all of my posts, the ones that elicit the most heated debate have to do with flowers (and believe me, I'm not pointing fingers because I'm right there with you readers in expressing my opinions on the subject). Flowers seem to provoke a visceral response- both good and bad. Many of us have very defined views on what we like and don't like. Personally, I have a few varieties that I love, some that I like, and many that I just don't care for. And the debate does not end here. What about floral arrangements? Do you like big, blowsy arrangements, or tight little clusters of flowers? A few branches of forsythia or magnolia in a vase? What about those tall, elaborate displays of flowers?

One arrangement that I do like to create is clusters of carnations, all of the same color. Individually, carnations are nothing to write home about. However, when grouped en masse, they're like little mounds of strong, pure color. My two favorite colors are deep, blood red and bright, vivid pink. The reds are good for a little drama, while the bright pink provides some snappy cheerfulness. White can be nice too, but for me it's all about color. Another advantage of carnations? They're inexpensive and they can last for a few weeks.



Joe Nye used these vibrant pink carnations for some punch in this room at the 2006 House Beautiful Showhouse.


Clusters of white carnations are jaunty and crisp on this blue and white themed table by Carolyne Roehm


Miles Redd adds some dark, brooding glamour in this arrangement of deep red carnations.


What's more classic (and graphic) than white and black? This reminds me of the Ascot scene in "My Fair Lady" in which the costumes were black and white (and were designed by Cecil Beaton). Photo from "Martha Stewart Weddings"


A red and white tablesetting from Martha Stewart Living


Image at top: A great mass of red carnations via Carolyne Roehm's website

45 comments:

  1. I am with you. Carnations get a bad rap in the states, but are considered to be quite nice in England (from what I hear). Grouped together like this, they are lovely.

    My preference are those flowers I can best describe as smooth and round (like hydrangeas, peonies, roses). Things that are too angular or weedy (like daisies or lillies) don't do it for me.

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  2. I like carnations... they make great bouquets like the ones you've shown. They also have an interesting clove scent.

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  3. I actually don't like carnations. My florist already knows never to include them in any arrangment I send or receive. However, I might have to reconsider. A huge cluster is so beautiful in their simplicity. Thanks for bringing me around!

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  4. Brilliant- I also love peonies, and coral colored roses too!

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  5. Fairfax- They do have a clove like scent, but the ones I buy have such a faint scent.

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  6. Me, Myself, and I- I'm not crazy about them in arrangements with other flowers, but I do love them in a big mass with only carnations!

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  7. Anonymous1:24 PM

    This doesn;t have to do with the single color carnation theme which by the way I think is an inexpensive way to create a lovely effect - I am painting my sunroom with a terra-cotta floor and stumped between salmon antique coral and a moss green leaning towards olive.
    Any pictures or suggestions?

    I LOVE YOUR SITE!!

    colorblind in Newton,MA

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  8. A few years ago my daughter met someone at a conference in another city and he asked for her email and address. Well, she gave him her email but MY address. The flowers started arriving...all from Martha Stewart. Every flower in every arrangement imaginable. When she informed him it was my address, not hers, I recieved flowers thanking me. He was a most thoughtful man and I still don't know why she wasn't interested.

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  9. Colorblind- I'm leaning towards the salmony coral color- that sounds beautiful!!! If there is enough pink in it, I think there would be enough contrast b/n the walls and floor. Thoughts anybody???

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  10. Stljoie- Well, at least you got the flowers!!! He sounds like a gem. What a great story.

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  11. Anonymous2:18 PM

    One of the most ravishing flower arrangements I ever saw (extravagant too) was when the Duchess of Devonshire came to New York City a few years ago and stayed at the Carlyle. I went to see her, and there in her room was the most astonishing bouquet of sweet peas, all in various pinks and reds and whites. It must have been the approximate size of a basketball, perhaps slightly larger. Even she was startled by its vulgarity (the size of the arrangement, not the flowers themselves). But it was downright beautiful. And the scent was overwhelming.

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  12. Anon- I think it sounds beautiful too. Even if it was a large arrangement, at least it was a cohesive one.

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  13. I think it is silly to be snobbish about flowers of all things. As long as the container, colours, and arrangement work well together that is all that matters.
    The only thing I don't like is buying them from the supermarket. That is a definite no-no.

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  14. HOBAC- Well, I must be committing a cardinal sin b/c that is where I buy my carnations!! ;) Although at my store that is about the only decent flower they sell.

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  15. Jennifer, I think you're the first to note that those dark red flowers in Miles Redd's apt are carnations! Love them this way.

    (Also, on the magnifying glasses -- so cool that your husband can craft them with horn! What a chic and meaningful object to have!)

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  16. Interesting post Jennifer. I know Carolyne Roehm always does the most beautiful arrangements with carnations, but for whatever reason I just don't like them. Peonies on the other hand are my all-time favorite!

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  17. Anonymous4:20 PM

    I agree, re flowers (except gladiolus) not worth being snobbish about. As long as they aren't tortured into strange shapes or skewered with branches, almost any flower has my vote. As long as it is handled simply and with style. One of the prettiest flower experiences I had was at the home of the designer Larry Laslo, who had massive flowering branches of pink quince in plain glass cylinder vases. Being in his sitting room that evening was like stepping into a Vogue illustrated cover, circa 1916. Very Lepape. I tried it at home sometime later, placing similar vases of pink quince branches at either end of a long sofa covered in nougat-colored moire, and in front of tall narrow mirrors. It was very swell looking.

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  18. Lovely post Jennifer! I have to say that more and more I love white carnations :)

    ~Kate

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  19. Ronda- Carnations are not the most popular flower for sure! I do love peonies though.

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  20. Anon- I have two enormous rust and white Chinese urns in which I put branches of various types. I agree with you and HOBAC about not being snobbish about flowers. There are a lot that I just don't care for. That said, it would be boring if we all liked the same thing.

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  21. Serena6:18 PM

    I love arrangements of single-coloured carnations as long as the flowers are kept tightly together and just the flowers (no stems) show.igm

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  22. Serena- I totally agree. You really only want the heads showing.

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  23. I like carnations, but I think they remind me of my grandmother so they're just not something I would buy for my home. My favorite flowers to have at home are peony's. I had them in my wedding bouquet, and they're just beautiful. I love a big group of them in all white, all pink, or a combination of both. Another is hydrangeas - which are ordinarily nothing special but the colours are quite unusual. Not many other flowers are available in green or blue, and they're also found in pinks and mauves and last for quite a while.

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  24. i think you should be able to make something bearable out of every depressing bunch. i love snipping supermarket poinsettia during christmas.
    that said, i can not stand calla lilies and i love coxcomb!

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  25. Do you remember that Sex and the City when Charlotte received carnations and it was enough cause for her to break up with the guy??? Perhaps she would not be so hasty in her judgment had she received a beautiful arrangement like one of these!

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  26. Suzy- I too love hydrangeas- always have!

    Frances- Love coxcomb too! So sculptural.

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  27. Things to Inspire- Oh I forgot all about that episode. That's too funny. :)

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  28. Anonymous12:16 PM

    Here's a twist: I once spent an afternoon at the home of Evangeline Bruce (tastemaker extraordinaire, wife of the US ambassador to France, England, etc) in Washington DC ... and on the tables in her melon-colored sitting room were 19th-century silver biscuit boxes ... each bearing sculptural heads of broccoli or feathery arrangements of rich green parsley ... for the purposes of this conversation, one cannot ignore the allure of garden produce ...

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  29. In the same Sex and the City episode mentioned above, Carrie mentions that carnations are great in big bunches and that she likes them. After seeing the pink ones she gets from her boyfriend at the time, I began to love them too! So glad to know others agree! What a great post!

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  30. Anon- I LOVE that idea. How chic! And how economical too :)
    Reminds me of that article in the Sept. Vogue on the Janklow house (I think Janklow). They had giant carrots with the stems on in crystal bowls on the table. Pretty neat.

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  31. Allison- Thank you! I think I need to rent that episode so that I can see it again :)

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  32. I'm more into mixed flowers

    The more colorful and eclectic they are, the better.

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  33. Love this post -I could not agree more, and those arrangements totally inspired me! I often cluster pale green carnations, it's so refreshing and lovely!

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  34. Well, I have arrived late to this party! But I hope in time to catch that gorgeous white with black bouquet! Stunning and I LOVE My Fair Lady!

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  35. Wooow This is a lovely post to see all those flowers.Nice collection buddy, n Thanks for sharing the beauty.

    www.lifeinfozone.com/category/gardening/flowers/

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  36. Anonymous5:30 PM

    The carnations are wonderful when grouped en masse. And although there are few flowers I don't like (gladiola is one - just too funereal), my favorite is the French white tuplip (tulips of all kinds are my weakness). There's something about the languid quality of a huge mass of the white French tulips that just can't be beat for elegance. For a bit extra, mix with viburnum and white dogwood. Tres elegante.
    Anonymous

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  37. Anon- Oh yes! LOVE French tulips! I love the idea of grouping the white French tulips, viburnum, and dogwood. Now that's an arrangement! I love viburnum too :)

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  38. It seems like most people I talk to do not like carnations. Me, I love them! They last for such a long time and they smell really good, plus I like them bc my dad would always buy them for me :) I didnt think they would be very pretty for a centerpeice, but those pictures look great!

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  39. maurice12:43 PM

    I love the pure strong color,and scent of carnations.Such a fresh flower,fresh is what flowers are all about.Constance Spry was a important floral designer no one mentions...

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  40. Maurice- Me too! They can be a bold flower, which I like. You're right about Constance Spry too.

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  41. I really enjoy the beautiful photos on your blog. This really is a fashionable flowers. Thanks for sharing here..

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  42. I have stumbled upon your post while searching for a picture with red carnations. The one in your post is so beautiful! Did you take the photo yourself? Gorgeous :)

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    1. Nadya, I did not. The photo came from Carolyne Roehm's website. It's a beautiful photo!

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