William Shakespeare wrote in A Winter's Tale, "The fairest flowers o' the season are the carnations." This was in 1601, and we know before this date they were called CARNARDINE, the CORNONATION, the CLOVE GILLYFLOWER and by many other names.
In England it became the DIVINE FLOWER because of its beauty and attractive fragrance.
Charles Willis Ward of Queens, New York wrote a book titled The America Carnation--How to grow it in 1903. He dedicated the book to--THAT WORTHY BODY OF ENTHUSIASTS WHOSE LOVE OF AND DEVOTION TO THE DIVINE FLOWER HAVE ENABLED THEM TO ACCOMPLISH SO MUCH IN SO SHORT A PERIOD OF TIME. If Mr.
Ward thought so much had been accomplished by 1903--he should see us now.
I shall attempt to give you an "area" report on the carnation in the United States which will cover production from Flatbush to Encinitas.
It will cover the basic progress and history of carnation production along with the trends, the main problems of the growers in different geographical areas and the solutions to these problems as they have arisen over the past couple of centuries.
The carnation was introduced in this country in the early 1800's.
It undoubtedly came from England since most of the immigrants during those years came from the British Isles.
The natural place to start production was in New York and the eastern seaboard states.
There were many "hot houses" in the New England states and the DIVINE FLOWER became a natural to this type environment.
For most of the first part of the 19th century as population areas spread westward, so did flower production, and along with it the carnation.
On Long Island, New York, there were numerous greenhouses, in fact, enough that the growers in the area met regularly and decided there should be an organization to represent them.
This organization was similar to the National Carnation and Picotee Society of England, which was established in 1850. This group of growers, probably with the help of growers from New Jersey and Pennsylvania, formed the American Carnation Society in 1892. This new trade association which represented only the carnation, survived for 89 years.
Official dissolution papers were filed in 1981, and the American Carnation Society was put to its final resting place in Denver.
As greenhouse operators prospered the production areas spread.
Chester County Pennsylvania became known as the "Carnation Belt" and for the next half century, production areas began wherever population centers expanded, i.e., the Ohio Valley, the Chicago and Joliet areas of lllinois, and the Missouri Valley.