Winter can be a melancholic time for avid gardeners, but I like to use the frosty months to make plans for my summer garden. I’ve been slowly adding old-fashioned flowers in the yard to create a vintage vibe. There’s something romantic about the flowers of yesteryear. Today, I’m sharing a few of my favorites with you.
Hollyhocks were the first vintage flower I planted in the yard after buying our circa 1875 house. My thought was to add flowers that might have first been planted when the house was built. Hollyhocks have been around since colonial times. They’re a biennial plant which means they won’t produce flowers until the second year, and they typically bloom only once. So while this flower is beautiful, it’s short-lived. They can grow up to eight feet tall, so be prepared to stake them if they get a little floppy. I lean mine against my picket fence.
This is a beautiful flower that’s available in about 300 different species. It’s a true show-stopper with its height and full spike of flowers. They prefer six to eight hours of sunlight and aren’t happy if it’s too hot and humid. I added a few more of these beauties to my front yard last summer and am anxious to see them again. You can use these as cut flowers for indoor arrangements.
When you need a shot of bold color in the garden, consider the glorious poppy. Last summer I added Icelandic poppies to my yard after seeing gorgeous California poppies during lasty year’s trip to Ferndale, CA. Icelandic poppies are smaller and so dainty. Some of my poppies struggled, others were quite happy. I’m curious to see how they fare this coming year.
I have a love affair with Cosmos. If you’re going to plant any old-fashioned flowers in your garden, be sure to choose this dainty gem. They’re so easy to grow and look so light and airy. We keep adding more and more of them. Cosmos can get quite lanky, however, but you can cut them back to make them bushier which in turn makes them less likely to fall over. Buy starter plants or grow them from seeds.
5. Bachelor Buttons
Frilly blue blooms grow atop stems that reach from two to three-feet tall. You might remember this charmer from your grandmother’s garden. They love sun and are easy to grow. Add them to a rock garden if you have one. They look great next to pink and orange flowers.
My neighbor once had a sea of foxglove flowers in her backyard and their appearance was simply mesmerizing. I keep adding them to my own garden hoping to one day recreate the magic from her yard. She’s since moved to Tennessee and the fellow who purchased her home removed all the flowers from the yard. I was so sad to see that happen, but he just wasn’t into gardening. If you want a tall flower, choose foxglove which can grow up to six feet in height, depending on the variety. I’ve had shorter versions in my flower beds which are just as pretty.
7. Bleeding Heart
It’s easy to see where this shade-loving flower gets its name. Tiny heart-like blooms suspend daintily from arching branches. If you want to add spring/early summer color in a shady location, bleeding heart is a great option. Be advised it looks like it dies off in the summer, but it will come back the following year.
Another spring and early summer bloomer is the beautiful peony. They grow in a bush-like format with large blooms that make great cut flowers. Ants love this plant so don’t be surprised if you find ants crawling out of the blooms after you bring them inside for floral arrangements. Most people choose white or pink peonies. I’ve got yellow ones in my front yard but hope to add a few pink ones, too.
Also known as Campanula, bellflowers are available in hundreds of varieties, from annuals to biennials and perennials. They bloom most proficiently in June and July and available in pink, white, blue, and lavender. Bellflower is easy to care for and is a popular choice for cottage gardens.
My mother had columbine flowers in her garden so it’s no surprise I have several in mine, too. She was always drawn to flowers with unusual shapes and columbine certainly is unique and enchanting. You’ll find this perennial in a range of colors. Mine like to spread throughout the garden bed and I’m always surprised to see a new one pop up. I cut back dead leaves, stems and flowers. They sometimes will bloom again, if I’m lucky.
Dianthus is another great choice among the field of old-fashioned flowers. I’ve planted two varieties of it in the rock garden surrounding my pond. It creates a great show of color among the rocks. The leaves are like a grassy carpet so after the blooms fade (I cut them back when they turn brown), the leaves still look great.
Do you have any of these old-fashioned flowers in your garden? Are there any you think you might add this year?