Flower of the Week
Sex & the City Carnations

In a certain episode of Sex & the City, Carrie was being courted by a boy.  He stood knocking at her door holding a bunch of pink carnations.  Not orchids, not roses, not some super-modern arrangement of 3 stick -like reeds.  He brought her carnations.  #3 on the cruddy flower hierarchy, just below dandelions and any flower that’s been dyed blue.

And Carrie loved them.

It was at that moment I truly loved Carrie.   You see, I’ve always had a thing for the humble carnation.  The cruddy carnation if you will.

They last forever, they come in beautiful colours and they don’t take too many to fill up a big vase.  A Mr. Big vase.  HAH!

I was looking for something low and old-fashioned this week.  For under $20.  Carrie would approve I’m sure.  Unless she saw the green crocs I was wearing while arranging them.  Then I’m pretty sure she would scowl right after vomitting.

Fill a vessel of choice with water

Grab yourself 2 bunches of carnations

tie the stems together with an elastic. i'm using a blue one just so you can see it.

this is what they'll look like from the top

Lets look at those again. Seriously? How pretty are those? What's not to like I ask?

pull your vase to the edge of your counter. Line your flowers up along the outside of the vase so you know how short to cut the stems.

Cut your stems a little longer than you think you need them. keep trying them in vase and cutting the ends until they're the right height.

please don't be afraid to cut the stems. they'll grow back. well, no they won't but still ... don't be afraid to cut the stems.

here's a tip ... use clear hair elastic bands to bind your stems. Then you won't seem em.


plunk into Mr. Big and fluff the flowers around with your fingers until you like em. Of course if you hate carnations you may be fluffing for quite some time.

There you have it. A somewhat updated version of the old-fashioned carnation.

This one's for you Carrie.


  1. Tricia Rose says:

    I love carnations, that strange clean scent~ though I turned against them a little after seeing Jean de Florette – remember?

    and pinks, their stunted cousins….

  2. Liz says:


    I like carnations too, but only in single flower-type arrangements like yours. I hate it when they’re added as “filler” flowers in mixed bouquets.

  3. Langela says:

    Very pretty arrangement, Karen. I’ve never seen an arrangement with just carnations. I don’t know why. They are beautiful.

  4. Lovely! My mother once received black carnations from a prom date. Weird.

  5. Sherry (BTLover2) says:

    I planted red carnations this year. Right now they are looking rather pitiful because it is so ungodly hot here, but when they were in bloom they were gorgeous. I never think of buying them for some reason… I love how yours look in that vase!

  6. shannon@bakeandbloom.com says:

    I don’t mind carnations. You can do some beautiful modern romantic things with them. I love when they’re tightly grouped & look like a pom pom. You can get these amazing white ones that are variegated with green tips. + they last for ages & cost nothing.

  7. I love solid colored carnations, it’s when the crazy tie died colors come into play that I start feeling like I am in a time warp 🙂 I love your arrangement just gorgeous. Will you come decorate my house? I will feed you seafood and let you have dibs on the hammock.

  8. Natalie says:

    I love carnations when they are bunched together like this – the texture and shape is so lovely. I did a hot-pink bunch with matching gerber daisies and peacock feathers for my wedding bouquet and it totally rocked.

  9. The Red Daisy says:

    I made a Carnation Snowman w/ the help of 14 third graders as a teacher gift. Here in FLORIDA it’s the closest thing we get to snow white snowmen ! Just use 3 graduated sizes of “OASIS” foam balls and 1 long wooden dowel to secure together. It will last all Christmas Season ! Merry Christmas !

  10. shannon@bakeandbloom.com says:

    lol Karen…do not use me as evidence that your sick carnation lovin ways are ok! Just because I am now an officially fully qualified florist (as of tonight)

    I am a weirdo too though, I do love them….maybe we need some kind of support group?

  11. Natalie says:

    It’s great to see carnations getting some love! They’re actually my favorite flower. I love their layered, delicate look, and they’re so affordable! Carnations were a big part of my wedding flowers. I’d be interested in knowing a little more about the history of carnations and how such a pretty flower ended up with such a negative stigma. Is it just because they happen to be affordable?

    • Karen says:

      Huh! Me too! I’d love to learn a little more. Good idea. Great.Now I’m going to be up all night looking into it. I’ll let ya know what I find out.

  12. sinead says:

    ..full respect for this post!! The poor humble carnation gets such a raw deal. It is so so pretty and very confident amongst its own company but it has to be said it is not a great mixer in other flowers company!! Love the Mr Big vase idea!! New follower..Sinead

  13. Stephanie says:

    Those turned out beautifully! They actually look like they could be wedding centerpieces

  14. Great job, carnations are coming back into fashion, as well as mums and alstro. It is all in how you use, all one type of flower, no greens, cut very low, just like you did, fab job.(I am a floral designer in Toronto, so I should know, lol).

    • Karen says:

      Thanks for your comments Deborah! I’m always worried that actual floral designers are going to look at my arrangements. I’m just a gal with a pair of scissors and a crap-load of vases. 🙂 I’m loving Astrols lately! Used to hate em! But again … I use them as a bunch with no other flowers, very upright in a tall cylindrical vase. Thanks again for your comments!

  15. Rebecca says:

    Okay, I think I’m officially a stalker now, commenting on all your old posts. Anyway, I also really like carnations, but it’s almost embarrassing to say that. I love arrangements with just one type of flower. In fact I pretty much only like arrangements with one type and maybe minimal greenery. Problem is, my husband always buys me these elaborate bouquets with several types of blooms (I know, poor me!) So, we’ve been together for 12 years and I can’t tell him now that I’ve been faking it all these years. What’s a girl to do? I’ve tried splitting up his arrangements by type, and dropping subtle hints when I buy flowers, but he never seems to clue in and I think he really prides himself on how he has chosen the compositions. This has gone on far too long. Help!?!

    • Karen says:

      Hey Rebecca! Heh. I can sympathize. I’m actually planning on doing a couple of tutorials on how to arrange “mixed bouquets”. You know … the kind they sell at the grocery store. It takes some skill to make a mixed arrangement look great. For now, here’s what you do. Casually show your husband my webpage with the carnations. Go on and on about how much you love it and would loveeeee to try it. Hopefully he’ll take the hint and come home with 3 bunches of carnations. If he doesn’t take the hint keep trying and in the meantime try grouping the flowers in your mixed arrangements. Put all the astrols in one bunch, all the roses in another bunch, etc. etc. then put them all in one vase (but individually grouped together) Understand? That way it’ll still give you the same sort of feeling as a single flower arrangement. Kind of. 🙂

  16. marilyn says:

    hey karen, looking at some old posts, the carnations were beautiful…they were my moms favorite flower, always make me smile and feel a little nostalgic and weepy…in a good way of course…thanks

  17. trinity says:

    I know this is months late but I just found your blog.
    anyway, my father’s wife, whom I did not love as he did, regardless, grew carnations in her flower beds. it was shocking to me and weird like fertilizing dandelions but I secretly I thought that was interesting. I didn’t even realize they grew, I thought they were fake or something. Like colorizing celery. Deep down in south Louisiana to make it more amazing.

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