Saturday, May 1, 2010

List of historical plants for period gardens

I was idly wondering the other day, as I arranged my hydrangeas in my Tudor kitchen, whether they were, strictly speaking, appropriate for the period*.

Shortly after that question popped into my head, I found this great link to information that anyone planning appropriate plants and flowers for a historical miniature setting should know about:

Lesley's Garden -- Historical Garden Information and Plant Lists 

Lesley is a Canadian botanist, garden designer and miniaturist.  Not only is her site full of tremendously useful information, but you can buy things there, too: she sells, among other things, beautiful looking ready-made miniature flowers and plants as well as kits (kits!  I love kits!) in 1:12, 1:24 and 1:48 scale.

Now, I'm not a stickler for historical accuracy, but I do like to know the actual history I'm dealing with and which anachronisms I've decided to allow.  I suppose I've decided that, for myself,  willful and conscious  inaccuracy in the service of an artistic vision is to be preferred to smiling but blind ignorance :)  Anyway, that's what I tell myself ...

So, if you care, check out whether that pretty pot of Lavandula angustifolia is appropriate for your Tudor farmhouse (you're fine with lavender any time after the 13th century) or whether a stately Lilium lancifolium is really right for your George II garden (the tiger lily wasn't introduced until 1804, so you're out of luck :)


* (No they're not :)


  1. Instead of hydrangea use the older variety name Hortensia to find more medieval sources for them.

    The geraniums you are showing actually named pelargoniums. Real geraniums are the medieval plant with the common name of cranesbill.

    Plant names used in medieval times are often different than what we use for them today. However a rose is still a rose but now often smells less sweet but were not floribundas. The Tudor rose is a prime example of petal arrangement.

  2. Thanks for the tip about the hydrangeas, Karin! I just picked the geranium photo for this post because it's pretty :)

  3. It doesn't matter if it is exactly in the period when it is just pretty - and so are your hydrangeas:)But of course it is good to know what plants were popular and when :)

  4. There is a authentic Tudor garden in Winchester (Hampshire) which was created for one of our Tudor Queen's, very near to where I live. In that Garden there is lavender and old dog roses and runner beans plants (in Tudor times they grew runner beans for the flowers and not for the beans!) I wish I could remember more of the plants. However, other plants grown at that time are wild strawberries, old-fashioned roses such as Rosa Gallica, acanthus, pinks, foxgloves, salvias, cornflowers, cowslips, larkspur, periwinkle, poppies, primroses. sweet william, violets, wallflowers iris’ and herbs (mint and marjoram) and a bit later on tradescantia.

    I hope the above helps!

    Michelle xx

  5. Thanks for the link. Not only does Lesley sell flowers and kits, but I noticed that she gives finishing ideas for pots on her website:

  6. Wow, Carol -- those are really helpful, aren't they? Thanks for mentioning them!


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