Not that long ago I was told that I shouldn’t have ‘too many old-fashioned flowers’ in my garden. I edged away from the person who told me that – they had also informed me that ‘orange has no place in a garden’ some time earlier – before making a bid for freedom, but it got me thinking.
It also got me cross. So what should I do, dig up the whole half-acre? At least that would also allow me to eliminate the crocosmia, calendulas, californian poppies and other orange aberrations. Then I started noticing that there were indeed a lot of old-fashioned flowers, and started tweeting one a day. Some of them pitched up on Instagram, too. But what defines an ‘old-fashioned flower’? (I’m not asking the offender, believe you me.)
Is it something like this,
red valerian, Centranthus ruber, introduced into the UK in about 1600?
Or maybe an aquelegia, of which I have very, very many, all self-seeded and deserving a post of their own (next one).
I mean, they are known as ‘granny’s bonnets’ after all, and that name rather conjures up a sanitised version of a Victorian country cottage. Not so much the real Lark Rise to Candleford, more the image on a biscuit tin. But the flowers are so much more than that (though maybe not to my informant, who also told me that ‘only a fool reads a book more than once’).
Or perhaps being unpretentious qualifies you as being ‘old-fashioned’, like this sweet little saxifrage, growing out of one of my stone walls?
Age, maybe? Provable age, that is. Nigella seeds were found in Tutankamun’s tomb, and are relatively common in other archaeological contexts. Pretty old.
Herb flowers, then, so old and so often overlooked? The first recorded use of the word ‘chive’ in English dates from around 1400, so that’s pretty old. Old enough to be old-fashioned?
Apparently a bunch of chives hung up by the door keeps evil spirits at bay. Wonder if it works on eejits?