I have become very fond of vintage cottage garden flowers in the last few years, a sentiment which stemmed from the realization that my idea of a cottage garden is significantly different from my grandmother’s.

Sure they share some staple plants, without which neither a modern nor a vintage cottage garden would be complete - roses, daisies, delphiniums, hollyhocks, but the list of similarities only goes so far.

Eager to experience the gardens of old I did some research and found some gems, which are lovely and fit in the perennial border like they’ve always been there:
- mignonettes - the flowers don’t look like much, but the foliage has an intense fragrance that reminds me of lemon verbena
- love in a mist - the bright blue flowers spring from a haze of wispy foliage which surrounds them like a Victorian collar.
- yarrow - it is kept with the herbs at the plant nursery, but boy, does it bloom!
- Maltese cross - I still can’t believe I managed to persuade it to stick around. If you are partial to red flowers, this is the reddest flower in existence. Poppy red.
- snakeroot - it blooms long wands of fuzzy flowers, wonderfully fragrant, at the end of August
- red hot poker - haven’t seen it this year, maybe it reached the end of its life. If you want a specimen plant that steals the show, this is definitely it.
- squills - not so commonplace anymore. Lovely shade bulb for the spring garden.
- valerian - I actually do have one in my herb garden and it’s getting ready to bloom as we speak.
- last, but not least, heliotrope, the cherry pie plant.

It earned its nickname due to the fragrance of its flowers, which some associate with vanilla and cherry. I think it smells more like a blend of licorice and grape soda.

The plant is perennial, but only in areas warmer than zone ten, and, just like geraniums, it loses its vitality if not started fresh from cuttings every year. The flowers are usually purple, but there are hybrids that come in white and pink. I’m partial to the classic.

Author's Bio: 

Main Areas: Garden Writing; Sustainable Gardening; Homegrown Harvest
Published Books: “Terra Two”; “Generations”; "The Plant - A Steampunk Story"; "Letters to Lelia"; "Fair"; "Door Number Eight"; "A Year and A Day"; "Möbius' Code"; "Between Mirrors"
Career Focus: Author; Consummate Gardener;
Affiliation: All Year Garden; The Weekly Gardener; Francis Rosenfeld's Blog

I started blogging in 2010, to share the joy of growing all things green and the beauty of the garden through the seasons. Two garden blogs were born: allyeargarden.com and theweeklygardener.com, a periodical that followed it one year later. I wanted to assemble an informal compendium of the things I learned from my grandfather, wonderful books, educational websites, and my own experience, in the hope that other people might use it in their own gardening practice.