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Old Fashioned Plants

 The "old fashioned plants" grown by our parents and grandparents offer beauty and nostalgia in today's gardens. Many need to be started from seed because they do not lend themselves to commercial production methods and are not readily available.  You should experiment with seeding and growing these plants in order to familiarize yourself with their habits.  Most will self-seed in desirable places.  They are easy to grow and are extremely rewarding in the garden!


Microclimate and severity of winter determine whether these plants perform as hardy or half-hardy annuals, tender perennials or biennials.  Hardy annuals reliably survive the winter; half-hardy annuals can survive depending on the severity of the winter weather.  Tender perennials are not frost tolerant. Biennials grow foliage in their first year and flower in their second year. Results vary, but are well worth the experiment!  Sow in an established border by pulling the mulch back, seeding, and covering lightly with Pro-Mix.  A new bed can be started as well, but be careful not to cover the seeds too heavily.  Sow seeds in August (especially biennials) to grow over the winter and bloom the following spring.  Or, sow two to four weeks before the last frost in late March or early April.  Plant where there is a minimum of 5-6 hours of direct sun.  After plants are visible (May-June, or September) mulch lightly to prevent weeds and conserve moisture.


Cool-season flowers and vegetables will provide interest in the fall and spring and can be removed as the warm summer months approach.  Others will provide summer interest. Removing the spent flowers will encourage repeat blooming well into the fall.  Leave some of the flowers to mature and re-seed themselves for next summer.  It is easy to thin out the unwanted seedlings if they become crowded.


These make great cut flowers for fresh arranging.  Some can be dried for later use, and many have wonderful fragrance as a bonus!


Alcea Hollyhock
Antirrhinum majus Snapdragon
Bellis English Daisy
Calendula Pot Marigold
Centaurea cyanis Bachelors Button
Cheiranthus Wallflower
Molucella laevis Bells of Ireland
Campanula medium Canterbury Bells Cleome
Consolida ajacis Larkspur or Delphinium
Digitalis Foxglove
Euphorbia marginata Snow-on-the-Mountain
Hesperis matronalis Dames or Sweetrocket
Lathyrus odoratus Sweet Pea
Lavatera trimestris Tree Mallow
Lobularia Sweet Alyssum
Lychnis coronaria Rose Campion
Lunaria Money Plant
Myosotis Forget-me-not
Nicotiana alata and sylvestris  Flowering Tobacco
Nigella Love-in-a-Mist
Phlox drummondii  annual types
Papaver Poppy annual types
Rudbeckia hirta Gloriosa Daisy
Matthiola Stock
Verbascum Mullein
Verbena bonariensis Verbena



The following cool season plants make excellent companions for the old fashioned flowers listed.  Although they are not "antique" themselves, they are edible as well as ornamental.  Most are easy to grow from seed sown in early April or August-September.  Cabbage and Kale are available as beautiful plants.


Lettuce (include some bronze and red varieties)

Mesclun Mix (varied textures)

Mustard (include reds)

Kale (blue, red, and green)

Swiss Chard (especially 'Bright Lights')

Spinach (rich green)

Collards (green, large leaf)

Peas (trellis with flowers beneath)

Perilla (red or bronze, after frost)

Basil (ground must be very warm, late May-early June)

Ornamental cabbage and Kale (fall show)

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