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Home> Tour the Garden Online > Heirloom Flower Garden

photo: Heirloom flower gardenHeirloom Flower Garden

The purpose of the Heirloom Flower Garden is to demonstrate the beauty, culture and growth habits of heirloom flowers.

Explore this garden and the plant list below and discover some old-fashioned treasures you may not be familiar with.

Plants Used

Latin Name Common Name Description

Dianthus barbatus  

Newport Pink Sweet William

Salmon-pink flowers bloom in spring, luscious with apricot foxgloves and bellflowers. Listed in an 1828 catalog, it is a rare favorite of ours.

Tropaeolum majus

Empress of India Nasturtium

Small, dark blue-green leaves and smoldering dark scarlet flowers make a striking contrast on this Victorian era heirloom. The neat mounded habit makes it suitable for containers and garden edging. Edible.

Tropaeolum majus

Alaska Nasturtium

A modern variety with cream and green variegated leaves and single flowers of yellow, coral and dark red. Its low, mounding habit makes it ideal for edging and containers.

Zinnia haageana

Old Mexico Zinnia

Masses of overlapping pointed petals of this older variety won this selection an All American Selections award in 1962. Easy to grow.

Antirrhinum majus

Black Prince Snapdragon

Gorgeous crimson flower spikes are paired with bronze-purple foliage, a stunning combination. Listed in Burpee's 1923 catalog.

Anagallis monellii

Pimpernel Blue Light

Brilliant azure flowers tinged with violet-red in their centers are a dramatic addition to containers and garden edging for they produce scads of flowers all summer. 'Blue Lights' is an outstanding large-flowered variety.

Calendula officinalis

Pink Surprise Calendula

Used as a saffron substitute since Roman times to flavor and color cakes and soups; today, its petals star in many a salad. Double flowers with pale pink petals colored soft orange on the reverse; a halo of light yellow surrounds the button centers. Self sows.

Centaurea cyanus

Jubilee Gem Cornflower

Winner of the Silver Medal in the All American Selection flower trials in 1937. They are covered with bright blue double thistle-shaped flowers that make instant bouquets. Self sows.

Gomphrena globosa

Globe Amaranth

Whorls of papery bracts in vibrant reddish-purple rise above the dark green leaves. Fun to cut for dried flowers, it combines well with 'Red Sea' ageratum. Tolerates humid heat.

Papaver paeoniflorum

Pink Peony poppy

Radiant double flowers give an 'old world' feel to your garden, for these were the poppies that frequently appeared in Dutch flower paintings. Self sows.

Impatiens balsamina


Also known as Lady Slipper, Balsamine, and Touch-Me-Not, referring to the characteristic shooting out of the seeds when ripe pods are touched. Rich and varied colors of white, apple blossom pink, red, salmon and violet, some spotted with white. Listed in a seed list of 1820. Self sows. Tolerates humid heat.

Trachymene coerulea

Blue Lace Flower

Introduced from Australia in 1828. Flat flower heads resemble Queen Anne's lace, and the frothy flowers and curving stems with fine, deeply lobed leaves are graceful additions to the garden. Prefers cooler areas.

Papaver rhoeas

Cedric Morris Poppy

Beautiful mixture of soft shades of pinks, dove gray, and lilac, many stippled with pink. Named after the famous plantsman who perfected this strain by pulling out any errant red ones.

Zinnia peruviana

Yellow Peruvian Zinnia

Introduced into England in 1753, this antique species has round flowers of overlapping petals, gold ochre fading to soft gold. Sturdy blue-green stems branch to produce a bushy plant that is mildew resistant. Easy to grow.

Zinnia peruviana

Red Peruvian Zinnia

An antique variety from Mexico and South America, these flowers have the texture of close-shorn velvet; the ray flowers surrounding the center disk age gracefully to a soft brick color. Easy to grow. Mildew resistant.

Dianthus barbatus

Sweet William

Velvety petals in a mix of pinks, white and clarets, including the rare old 'eyed' forms; a favorite in the 1600s.

Consolida regalis

Blue Cloud Larkspur

Very appropriately named, for from a distance it looks like a bushy cloud of purple baby's breath. Seeds poisonous. Self sows.

Papaver somniferum

Heirloom Poppy

A mix of gorgeous hues and interesting shapes are offered in this single-flowered heirloom variety, all having a darker blotch at the petal base. Found here in lavender, black raspberry, cherry and deepest claret. Self sows.

Centaurea cyanus

Mauve Queen Cornflower

Bachelor's Button, Ragged Sailor or Bluet are some old names given to this easy-to-grow favorite. Boiled in beer and quaffed, it once supposedly cured jaundice. Double thistle-like flowers in a rich shade of warm lavender bloom atop gray-green foliage. Self sows.


Consolida ambigua

Blue Larkspur

This antique variety with soft lilac-blue spires of flowers won an All American Selections award in 1934. We love larkspurs--a handful makes an arrangement of artful grace we can enjoy all year, for they dry exceptionally well. Seeds poisonous. Self sows.


Rudbeckia hirta

Prairie Sun Gloriosa Daisy

Winning both the Fleuroselect and All American Selections in 2003, 'Prairie Sun' is a gorgeous substantial plant with 5 inch blooms of golden yellow, each tipped with primrose yellow. In the heat of summer it looks cool and composed, not a petal out of place.

Consolida ambigua

Giant Imperial Larkspur

Tall spikes of double flowers in beautiful shades of blue, violet, rose, red, lavender, salmon, pink and white. Once called Lark's Heels for the upward curving spur on the back of each floret. Seeds poisonous. Self sows.

Cosmos bipinnatus

Psyche Cosmos

Originating in Mexico, cosmos was introduced into England in 1799. Semi-double blooms flowers with a row of single petals surrounding a shorter inner row give it a full, luxuriant look. Offered in a mix of pink, deepest magenta and blush pink. Easy to grow. Self sows. Tolerates humid heat.

Cosmos bipinnatus

Versailles Rose Cosmos

A modern tetraploid variety, irresistible because of those 3.5 inch wide pink blossoms and strong stems. Self sows. Tolerates humid heat.

Consolida ambigua

Waving Flags Larkspur

The seed for 'Waving Flags' was harvested from a 6.5 acre field in California, filled with red, white and blue flowers. Seeds poisonous. Self sows.

Verbena bonariensis

Tall Verbena


Introduced to England from South America in 1726, this plant has strong stems supporting clusters of rounded flower heads. The dark green leaves are unmarked by pest or disease. Self sows.

Amaranthus caudatus

Love Lies a Bleeding Amaranth

The Great Purple Flower Gentle of 16th century herbals, this flower has rope-like, wine-red blooms spilling towards the ground. Cut for fresh or dried bouquets. Listed in an 1810 seed list. Self sows.

Cleome hasslerana

Pink Queen Cleome

AAS winner in 1942. Lovely light pink blooms flower in summer and fall. Combine with 'Radiance' cosmos and woodland tobacco for a classic old-fashioned garden. Self sows. Tolerates humid heat.

Cleome hasslerana

Violet Queen Cleome

Vivid deep violet flowers grace this selection. Self sows. Tolerates humid heat.

Cleome hasslerana

Rose Queen Cleome

The deep rose buds opening to lighter pink blossoms give an airy appearance due to the stamens and pistil which protrude several inches, as well as the whiskery look of the developing seed pods. Self sows. Listed in an 1836 catalog. Tolerates humid heat.

Cosmos bipinnatus

Cosmos ‘DayDream’

White flowers have pink highlights around the central disk. Lovely with 'Pink Beauty' lavatera. Self sows. Tolerates humid heat.

Cosmos bipinnatus

Cosmos ‘Radiance Sensation”

Early to flower, with rose petals and a central ring of deep rose. Self sows. Tolerates humid heat.

Amaranthus (mix)

Amaranth ‘Magic Fountains”

Jewel-toned varieties that are absolutely breathtaking! A mix of many types in varied shades of green, bronze, purple and red. Self sows.


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