For many gardeners, heirloom flowers awaken childhood
memories of a bygone era and loved ones long departed. Snapdragons
vines take me back to summer evenings on my grandparent’s porch. It was a
simpler time. The lack of air conditioning and summertime TV reruns pushed us
outdoors where we caught small glimpses of nature interspersed among the
surrounding city life.
Like many 20th century grandmothers, mine had a vintage
flower garden where she grew her prized roses. Other old-fashioned flowers
filled the small spaces of her city lot. It was an era of economy. Perennials
had to be easy to grow and annuals readily self-seeded. Many gardeners are
returning to this ideology of heirloom flower gardening. Let’s take a glimpse
back at some of these old-fashioned flowers which graced the gardens of our
Heirloom Flower Gardening Favorites
are the quintessential gardening flower. These delicate buds and blossoms have
been cultivated for over 5,000 years. While it’s easy to consider varieties
such as the Peace rose to be an old-fashioned flower, this 1945 introduced rose
is a modern hybrid. True old-fashioned garden roses existed before 1867 when
the first modern hybrid rose, La France, was introduced. For a vintage flower
garden containing heirloom
roses, consider Gallica, Damask or a Bourbon rose.
are a mainstay of old-fashioned cottage
gardens. These giant wonders may be short-lived but their ability to
self-seed keeps them coming back. Heirloom hollyhocks are available in a
multitude of colors and blossom types from the Chaters Double White variety to
the Black Watchman hollyhock flowers grown by Thomas Jefferson.
Rudbeckia heirloom varieties extends beyond the traditional
yellow flowering black-eyed
Susan. Try Cherry Brandy for a brilliant red blossom or Chocolate Orange
for a truly spectacular color combination. Rudbeckia is great for naturalizing
in fields or rustic-looking areas of the garden.
Cleome is one my personal favorites. Also called spider
flower, these proficient blooming heirloom flowers are easy to grow and
readily self-seed. Their white, pink and lavender blossoms are long-lasting and
fill the garden space with color from mid-summer until frost.
peas are classic heirloom flowers with a fragrance as reminiscent of
grandma as were her chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven. Often grown as
cutting flowers, their multicolored blossoms can fill the house with a sweet
flowery aroma. Try Erewhon, Blue Shift or America for fragrant and beautiful
blossoming Sweet Pea varieties.
are truly the sentinels of heirloom flower gardening. A vintage garden hardly
seems complete without these mammoths of the flowering world following the
sun’s path with their seed-bearing heads. Although there are more than 70
varieties of sunflowers available, the 12- to 14-foot (3.6 to 4.3 m.) tall
single-headed Giant Sunflower variety is a popular pick for evoking those
special memories of granny’s garden!