Top 10 Plants for Historic Gardens

Top 10 Plants for Historic Gardens


Historic gardens hold a special charm, preserving the essence of bygone eras through their carefully curated plant selections. Whether you’re restoring a period garden or simply drawn to the timeless beauty of historical landscapes, choosing plants that evoke a sense of nostalgia and authenticity is essential. From heirloom varieties to plants with cultural significance, here are the top 10 plants that thrive in historic gardens, offering both beauty and a connection to the past.

Top 10 Plants for Historic Gardens
Top 10 Plants for Historic Gardens

Roses (Rosa spp.)

Roses have been cherished throughout history for their exquisite blooms and fragrant scent, making them a quintessential choice for historic gardens. Old garden roses, such as Damask, Bourbon, and Gallica varieties, are particularly prized for their rich history and resilience. These roses often boast lush petals and a romantic charm that evokes centuries past, ideal for adding elegance to formal garden beds or climbing trellises.

Boxwood (Buxus spp.)

Boxwood has long been favored for its dense, evergreen foliage and versatility in garden design. In historic gardens, boxwood is often used to create formal hedges, parterres, and intricate topiary designs. Its ability to withstand pruning and its classic appeal make it a staple in gardens dating back to Renaissance and Baroque periods.

Lavender (Lavandula spp.)

Lavender’s aromatic blooms and silvery foliage have made it a beloved plant throughout history, cherished for its medicinal properties and soothing fragrance. In historic gardens, lavender is often planted in knot gardens, along pathways, or in herbaceous borders, adding a touch of color and sensory delight.

Peonies (Paeonia spp.)

Peonies are celebrated for their large, showy flowers and lush, bushy foliage, making them a favorite in traditional cottage gardens and estate landscapes. Their blooms come in shades of pink, white, and red, exuding a nostalgic charm reminiscent of Victorian gardens. Peonies thrive in sunny locations with well-drained soil, making them ideal for perennial borders or as focal points in garden beds.

Hollyhocks (Alcea spp.)

Hollyhocks are tall, stately biennial or perennial plants known for their towering spires of colorful flowers. These old-fashioned favorites have adorned cottage gardens and historic estates for centuries, attracting butterflies and providing vertical interest. Hollyhocks thrive in full sun and well-drained soil, adding a whimsical touch to traditional garden settings.

Wisteria (Wisteria spp.)

Wisteria is prized for its cascading clusters of fragrant, lavender-blue flowers that drape gracefully from pergolas, arbors, and trellises. This climbing vine has been cultivated in gardens worldwide for its romantic beauty and vigorous growth habit. Wisteria thrives in full sun and well-drained soil, creating a breathtaking display in historic gardens with its long-lasting blooms.

Foxgloves (Digitalis spp.)

Foxgloves are biennial or short-lived perennial plants known for their tall spikes of bell-shaped flowers in shades of pink, purple, white, and yellow. These charismatic plants have adorned English cottage gardens and woodland clearings for centuries, attracting bees and adding vertical interest. Foxgloves prefer partial shade and well-drained soil, making them ideal for naturalistic plantings in historic landscapes.

Sweet Peas (Lathyrus odoratus)

Sweet peas are annual climbing plants cherished for their fragrant, pastel-colored flowers and delicate tendrils. These old-fashioned favorites have graced gardens since the Victorian era, adorning trellises, fences, and archways with their profuse blooms. Sweet peas thrive in cool, moist conditions with full sun to partial shade, providing a nostalgic touch to historic garden designs.

Dahlias (Dahlia spp.)

Dahlias are prized for their vibrant, showy blooms in an array of colors, shapes, and sizes, making them a favorite in late summer and autumn gardens. These tuberous perennials have been cultivated for centuries, adding a splash of color to formal borders, cutting gardens, and mixed plantings. Dahlias prefer full sun and well-drained soil, offering versatility and visual impact in historic garden settings.

Columbines (Aquilegia spp.)

Columbines are perennial plants known for their delicate, spurred flowers in shades of blue, purple, pink, yellow, and white. These graceful plants have adorned cottage gardens and woodland borders for generations, attracting hummingbirds and butterflies. Columbines thrive in partial shade and moist, well-drained soil, adding charm and biodiversity to historic garden landscapes.


Incorporating these top 10 plants into your historic garden not only enhances its beauty but also connects you to the rich horticultural heritage of the past. From the timeless elegance of roses and peonies to the whimsical charm of hollyhocks and foxgloves, each plant offers a glimpse into gardening traditions that have shaped landscapes for centuries. Whether you’re restoring a period garden or seeking to evoke a sense of nostalgia, these plants provide enduring beauty and cultural significance in any historic setting.

Celebrate the beauty of history in your garden and enjoy the timeless appeal of these plants that have stood the test of time. Embrace the heritage of gardening and cultivate a space that honors the traditions and botanical treasures of the past.