There are certain plants that, either their flowers or their smell, invoke memories of certain times or places. Your childhood home, your grandmother’s house, your wedding, or maybe your first place on your own, they all hold memories that can be pulled back up by a certain smell or sight.
“Antique plants” as they’re sometimes called, are those staples of your grandmother’s home, the plants that remind you of visits and slower times. We’re highlighting a few that are still readily available and perfect to work into any landscape.
Tea Olive (Osmanthus fragrans)
Also known as sweet olive, this plant gives off the biggest fragrance from the tiniest flowers in the fall. If you go to a small, Southern town, you can be sure there’s one by both the front and back doors of each house. An evergreen that will grow between 10-20 feet tall, it resembles a holly. Its versatility is remarkable. It can tolerate almost any soil conditions, and can take full sun to part shade. You can espalier it, tree form it, keep it tight as a shrub or just let it go. There is no limit! It truly is an amazing plant and should be in every landscape.
Beautyberry (Callicarpa Americana)
Giant clusters of purple or white berries (depending on the cultivar) in the late summer set this plant apart as one of the most beautiful, especially during the early fall once the leaves have fallen off and the berries are left. The Beautyberry can grow to 4-6 feet and some varieties may reach 6-8 feet in certain conditions. The arching nature of its stature makes it beautiful along fence lines and in border plantings.
Hydrangea (Hydrangea spp.)
The hydrangea has forever been a staple of homes, both old and new, because they offer 3 or 4 seasons of constant beauty. The long white panicles of the Oakleaf Hydrangea and the giant blue or pink flowers of the mophead varieties will fill your garden with color from early spring until late fall and into winter. There are so many different cultivars of hydrangeas and they all get different heights and widths and require various sunlight and soil conditions. No matter your spot, though, there is a Hydrangea for you!
Weigela (Weigela spp.)
Weigela is a plant you probably recognize but don’t know the name of. It’s an old-fashioned beauty that blooms heavy in the spring and then off and on throughout the summer. Depending on variety, leaves may be solid green to dark plum to variegated. Weigela desire full sun, but will still flower with some shade, although not as much. They require moist, well-draining soil. Pruning is needed on most varieties to help maintain shape and structure and help flower production.
Quince (Chaenomeles spp.)
In the early spring, this plant is truly a show-off! A deciduous shrub that produces enormous amounts of beautiful and unique flowers before the leaves push out, quince is perfect as a mixed border plant. Some varieties have thorns and can be used as part of a hedge in areas you want to keep animals or people out of. Being full-sun lovers, they do need well-drained, loamy soil to thrive. The colors of the flowers are so wide: orange, peach, white, bright red, and pink. This old fashioned favorite is sure to fill a spot in your yard, but will require maintenance if you want it to remain tidy. Otherwise, let it create a beautiful mess of its naturally entwined branches.