With so many people moving into the city and suburban neighborhoods, time spent in the country at grandmas, or on the ranch at our aunts as children become memories that are like story tales in the backs of our minds. Nostalgia hits many of us really hard as we grow, buy homes, maybe have kids (or pets, or both). Recapturing these memories for the ones we love, and for ourselves, can become like an elusive butterfly. We find ourselves asking things like, “What kind of apple tree did grandpa have with those amazing apples that I’ve never found elsewhere?” and “I wish I had a kitchen garden like we had growing up!” Some of us even go as far as to smuggle a couple of chickens and a tiny chicken coop into our city backyards for a taste of fresh home grown eggs and the sound of happy clucking hens like we might have had as kids. So how can you capture some of this goodness from the past for your garden of today?
The first thing you want to do is find out exactly what types of plants your family grew. For example, apple varieties that are available today have changed a lot from what they were 30 years ago, but you can still find those old tried and true varieties of apples and much more if you know where to look. Look for a nursery that carries old traditional trees for sale. Some common, older apple varieties widely grown include Jonagold, Red Delicious, and Spartan. This applies to all fruit trees and shrubs too. Be sure that if you’ve moved away from home, Grandpa’s variety will perform where you now live. If not, there are plenty of alternatives.
There have always been garden trends and things people planted that were common to specific areas. For example, large rhododendrons might be in the memories of those who grew up in the Seattle area in the past few generations. In the Midwest, it’s very common to see large, old fashioned white blooming spireas and purple lilacs in the garden. In the south, crape myrtles were (and still are) everywhere. If you have fond memories of these growing up, look into bringing them into your own garden. And thankfully, with the progression of plant breeding and cultivar development in recent history, many of what we couldn’t grow in certain areas, we can now grow. For example, the rhodies of the west can now be grown in most parts of the cold in Minnesota when they couldn’t before, thanks to the development of cold hardy rhodies and azaleas like the Bloom-A-Thon series.
Your nostalgic scene will be unique to you. If you’re looking to recapture your mother’s kitchen or tea garden, check out our herb selection for your own kitchen or tea garden. An old fashioned rose much like The Fairy Rose will certainly remind you of the shrub roses you might remember.
In short, learn about old varieties of plants if you’re looking to capture that nostalgia that you have from when you were young in your own garden. Many of the old-fashioned and heirloom varieties of plants are still excellent choices for your garden today. There’s a wealth of wonderful information on gardens of the past out there, and bringing them into the current is a wonderful way to bring back memories and keep traditions alive.