Double Daisy

Double Lady's Smock

Dame Violet

Fair Maids of France


Lily of the Valley

Parma Violet

Sweet Violet

Pot Marigold

Eckford Sweet Peas

Sweet William




Old Fashioned Garden Plants

It is somewhat ironic that in Great Britain the Industrial Revolution had a profound effect on both garden plants and gardens. In earlier years plants had been grown only for their culinary, medicinal or aromatic properties. However with the rise of industrialisation people were drawn into the new urban areas from the surrounding countryside, and the growing of plants purely for their beauty began.

There can be no doubt that early urban and industrial areas were squalid and foul smelling, and life was hard. The era of the 'dark satanic mills' had arrived. By way of compensation these new industrial workers, in their anomic condition, took to growing plants in pots and small plots by the slums in which they lived; and the plants that they grew were those which reminded them of their previous life, and better times, in the countryside.

They took to growing the unusual and double forms of wild flowers, and especially favoured those with strong perfume. These early 'florists' cultivated and developed plants of exquisite beauty - the Laced Pink, Double Primrose, Gold Lace Polyanthus, and Viola to name but a few.

During the years after World War II there was a massive move away from the vegetable garden to the flower garden, and it was a hayday for the commercial seed breeders. Gardens were flooded with bright colour and the old plants began to disappear.

In the late 1960's John corresponded regularily with the late Mrs Gladys Emerson of The Leeke House in Limavady, Northern Ireland. Mrs Emerson was one of "the Irish Primrose Ladies" and was a vertiable mine of information not only on Primroses, but also many old fashioned plants. It is interesting to note that though these plants disappeared into obscurity during the last half of the 20th Century there is once again renewed interest in them, and why the interest? Probably because they remind us of our origins.

By and large these old fashioned plants, though often very difficult to find, are not difficult to grow. In the main they have a hatred of artificial fertilisers and thrive best in natural humus rich soil - the garden conditions which were the norm before the advent of modern commercial horticultural and gardening practice. Many varieties have been lost forever, but some rarities are still with us ...............

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