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Creating Nostalgic Gardens


Plant fragrant, beautiful flowers such as petunias, phlox, eucalyptus, or peony for a perfume paradise!

Gardens evoke an emotional response! Walking through gardens this summer may bring back memories of your childhood backyard or the flower pots on grandma's front porch. Many of those flowers you remember from days of yore are back and better than ever. The Minnesota Nursery & Landscape Association (MNLA) recommends incorporating these plants into your gardens and landscapes to provide a dazzling array of sizes, forms, colors as well as nostalgia. Here are a few recommendations and Garden Plans based on the look and emotion you're trying to create.

Bright, fun colors

Plants with orange and purple flowers and foliage are a happy addition to any garden and will be a hot trend this spring. Look for Phormium (New Zealand Flax), Strobilanthes (Persian Shield), Solanum (Potato Vine), or the stable and dependable Signet marigold to complete your orange palette. Other colorful flowering options include Dragon Wing® Red begonias, Mandevilla or petunias. If it's foliage color you're after, try sweet potato vine and Kong® coleus.

A new twist on old favorites

Looking for a new twist on those comforting petunias or geraniums that grew in your grandma's garden? Visit your local garden center to find some of these updated favorites: Red Signet marigold, castor bean, nasturtium, Echinacea (Purple Coneflower), Echinacea Big Sky™ 'Sunrise' (Coneflower), Echinops (Globe Blue Thistle), Sedum 'Vera Jameson'.


The smell of a garden is perhaps the best fragrance in the world, as evidenced by the number of perfumes made from flower extracts. A garden wouldn't be complete without a few of these fragrant additions: Nemesia 'Vanilla Sachet', eucalyptus, stock, nicotiana, petunias, oriental lilies, phlox, or peony. Be sure to plant these choices near a path or under a window so you can take full advantage of the soothing smell drifting on the breeze.

Achieving a native appearance

Native plants are usually defined as those plants that were growing naturally in an area before European settlement and they include all types of landscape plants--trees, shrubs, vines, flowers, ferns, groundcovers, and grasses. The most practical way for most homeowners to use native plants is to integrate them with nonnative, more-traditional landscape plants. Try using native plants and grasses along with barberry shrubs, dogwood shrubs, Viburnum shrubs, Achillea 'The Pearl', Nepeta or Rudbeckias (both perennial and annual varieties) to create a lovely garden that is native in appearance and feeling.

Incorporating Interesting Trees and Shrubs

Consider incorporating trees and shrubs that have beautiful foliage and winter interest such as colorful berries or fun, funky evergreens like the one you used to hide behind as a child. Ask a professional at your local nursery or garden center for the best tree or shrub appropriate for the conditions at your home.
As you choose your plants this spring, consider all the emotion and nostalgia they can bring to your garden or landscape. Expand your palette by including plants that are colorful, fragrant, reminiscent, and most of all fun!