Part of the joy I've found in collecting old fashioned flowers has been learning their associations with history--wars, marriages, exploration and trade, etc. One of the great rose collections of all time was made by the Empress Josephine, who received specimens brought by back Napoleon's army in their conquest of Europe and the Middle East. 'Souvenir de La Malmaison', a lovely Bourbon rose introduced in 1843, was named after her garden.
The great plant collector Robert Fortune discovered and introduced plants of many kinds to the Western world following his travels in China. These, and other plants from the Middle and Far East, were hybridized with native plants of Europe and America. Further hybridization, often with selection based on the qualities of size and bright coloration, has frequently left the more modern hybrids of many species with little scent and with colors which are difficult to blend in the garden. For this reason, I found myself attracted to the earlier varieties of roses and other plants.
Some collectors are inspired by the desire to preserve those older plant varieties that might otherwise become extinct. The Texas Rose Rustlers and the gardens at Monticello are two organizations promoting historical plant preservation. Both the Chelsea Physic Garden and The Museum of Garden History in London feature impressive collections of plants and seeds, with exhibits about their history.
Many Old-Fashioned Plants are fairly universal to all periods in garden history--roses,herbs, lilies, violas and violets. Others are more closely associated with distinct periods in the development of the garden. I have included here a list of a number of the plants from several periods in garden history. To view the list and images please click here.
For more on the layout and organization of the garden, please go to Period Gardens.