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Old Fashioned Flower Varieties Making A Comeback

The Sweet Scent of Nostalgia

I’ll never forget the summer my grandma’s backyard was overflowing with the most intoxicating floral aroma. It was like stepping into a time machine, transporting me straight back to my childhood – the sweet, spicy scent of carnations dancing on the breeze, reminding me of the bouquets she’d bring in from her garden to decorate the kitchen table. Those memories hold a special place in my heart, and I’ve been chasing that fragrance ever since.

Sadly, over the years, carnations seem to have fallen out of favor, replaced by flashier, scentless blooms in the grocery store aisles. But I refuse to let these vintage beauties fade into obscurity! Thanks to the hard work and determination of passionate flower growers, old-fashioned flower varieties are making an incredible comeback.

Erin Benzakein of Floret Flowers has been on a mission to track down the most fragrant, long-stemmed carnation varieties, and her efforts are nothing short of magical. After trialing nearly 20 different carnation cultivars, she’s narrowed it down to a few absolute must-grows that will have your whole house smelling like a sweet candy shop.

Recapturing the Carnation’s Former Glory

When I first read Erin’s description of the Chabaud carnations, my heart skipped a beat. “The tufted blooms smell like sugar and cloves and remind me of my childhood,” she writes. “Even a single stem of blooms will fill the entire room with a nostalgic fragrance.”

Erin goes on to explain that getting ahold of these precious carnation varieties hasn’t been easy. With all the domestic carnation growers going out of business over the years, it’s become next to impossible to source the plant material. But that didn’t stop her from tracking down a collection of incredible seed-grown heirlooms that will let you recreate that old-fashioned carnation magic right in your own backyard.

The Chabaud carnation series includes some real showstoppers, like the ruffled, pom-pom-like blooms of ‘Jeanne Dionis’, the delicate blush and coral tones of ‘La France’, and the dramatic, almost tie-dye-esque ‘Benigna’ with its unique streaked petals. And let’s not forget the vibrant ‘Aurora’ and the peachy, striped ‘Orange Sherbet’ – a veritable candy shop of carnation colors and forms.

Carnation Variety Color Fragrance
Chabaud Jeanne Dionis White Sweet, Spicy
Chabaud La France Blush, Coral Sweet, Spicy
Chabaud Benigna White with Streaks Sweet, Spicy
Chabaud Aurora Coral, Salmon, Pink Sweet, Spicy
Chabaud Orange Sherbet Peach, Coral, Raspberry Sweet, Spicy

Bringing Back the Bouquet

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to fill my garden with these vintage carnation beauties and recapture that enchanting, old-world fragrance. Luckily, Erin has generously shared all her hard-earned growing tips to help us succeed.

Seed-grown carnations may take a bit more patience than cuttings, but the results are well worth it. Erin recommends starting the seeds in late winter or very early spring, then transplanting them out as soon as the danger of frost has passed. She’s had great success growing them both in a hoop house and out in the open field, securing the tall, wispy stems with some netting or stakes to provide support.

One of my favorite tips from Erin is to harvest the blooms when just 1-2 flowers on a stem are open. This will give you the longest possible vase life – up to 2 weeks with proper flower food! Can you imagine filling your home with that captivating carnation scent for weeks on end? Talk about a walk down memory lane.

Today’s Gardens is thrilled to offer several of Erin’s hand-selected carnation varieties, including the Chabaud collection. I can’t wait to get my hands dirty and start planting these old-fashioned beauties. Who knows, maybe I’ll even inspire a new generation to fall in love with carnations all over again.

Uncovering Other Vintage Gems

Of course, carnations aren’t the only classic flowers making a comeback. As I researched this article, I discovered a whole world of vintage blooms that are rapidly regaining popularity – and for good reason.

Take hollyhocks, for instance. With their towering stalks and frilly, almost rose-like flowers, hollyhocks are the quintessential cottage garden plant. As one blogger put it, “Nothing shouts COTTAGE GARDEN more than a cluster of Hollyhocks along a brick wall or picket fence.” And they’re surprisingly easy to grow, readily self-seeding to ensure a constant supply of those charming, old-fashioned blooms.

Then there are sweet peas, with their Heavenly, grape-like scent that will instantly transport you back to Grandma’s backyard. As the writer Pam Kessler raves, “I am a firm believer that EVERY cutting garden should have at least a row or two of these flowers growing in it. Period.” Plus, they make such lovely, long-lasting cut flowers.

And let’s not forget about foxtail lilies, with their dramatic, candelabra-like flower spikes. While they may be a bit fussy to grow, the bold, architectural statement they make in the garden is well worth the effort. Just be sure to give them plenty of vertical support to keep those towering blooms standing tall.

The list goes on and on – delphiniums, coleus, even the humble four o’clock. Each one a nostalgic treasure, just waiting to be rediscovered and brought back into the spotlight. It’s like a secret garden of vintage delights, and I can’t wait to start cultivating my own little slice of floral history.

Preserving the Past, Embracing the Future

As I reflect on this journey of uncovering old-fashioned flower varieties, I’m struck by the profound sense of connection it evokes. These are the same blooms that graced our grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ gardens, imbued with the very essence of simpler times. By bringing them back into cultivation, we’re not just growing beautiful flowers – we’re keeping alive the stories, memories, and traditions of generations past.

And you know what they say, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” While the world around us may be evolving at a breakneck pace, there’s something to be said for honoring the timeless, the classic, the tried-and-true. These vintage flower varieties serve as a beautiful reminder that some things are meant to endure, to be passed down, to be cherished.

So, as I begin preparing my garden beds for a new season of planting, I can’t help but feel a sense of excitement and anticipation. I’ll be sowing seeds for Chabaud carnations, hollyhocks, and sweet peas, eager to watch them burst into bloom and infuse my little corner of the world with that nostalgic, old-fashioned charm. Who knows, maybe one day a child will catch a whiff of those carnation blooms and be transported straight back to their own childhood, just like I was.

The circle of life continues, and I’m honored to be a part of preserving these vintage flower varieties for generations to come. After all, the past has a way of making the present so much sweeter.

Today’s Garden is Garden and Landscape Company, provides all you need about Garden and Landscape Design to get better garden decorations.

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