Nostalgia Garden NGB

Create your own nostalgia-rich garden with modern plants

What evokes your favorite memories in the garden?

Is it the scent of marigolds, taking you back to the first time you planted flowers with your mom? Is it the delicious flavor of sun-warmed tomatoes, sliced for a family picnic of BLTs? Or is it the heady aroma of lilacs, snipped from a hedge in your grandmother’s garden and placed in a vase on the kitchen table?

The beauty and fragrances of garden goodies create sweet, wistful memories of time spent with our favorite people and plants. How can you recreate those treasured memories in your own garden? Whether you garden on an acre or a balcony, you’ll find nostalgic plants—with a modern twist—that add meaning and memories to your garden.

Plants that evoke nostalgia

When you reminisce about gardens and plants, you’ll often reflect on flowers, fruit, or fragrance through rose-colored glasses. While the delicious scent of lilacs filled spring gardens, you may have missed your grandpa mumbling under his breath about the onset of powdery mildew. Or perhaps you picked lavender with your aunt, while she silently thought about how fussy the plants were. Or maybe you’ve always loved the romance of hydrangeas, recalling the perfect flower—but assumed you needed a large garden space to grow it. Well, lucky you!

Many of the most nostalgic plants beloved through decades received makeovers, with breeders updating garden favorites with disease-resistance, stronger stems, better blooms, increased heat and cold tolerance, as well as creating compact cultivars for small gardens.


Rose Eau De Parfum™ Bubbly - Green Thumb Award Winner

Eau De Parfum™ Bubbly Rose
Raspberry Cupcake Rose

Raspberry Cupcake™ Rose
Rose Reminiscent Coral

Reminiscent™ Coral Rose

Few shrubs evoke as many sweet memories as roses. Whether grown in a grandparent’s garden, sent annually on Valentine’s Day or included in a bridal bouquet, the nostalgia created by roses encourages gardeners to grow them for sentimental reasons. Unfortunately, many gardeners soon realize that old-world roses often lead to time-consuming problems, such as diseases, pests, deadheading, and pruning.

Luckily, breeders reinvigorated roses, offering selections with greater disease resistance, continuous blooms without deadheading, and compact varieties perfect for small gardens—without sacrificing form and fragrance that makes roses so nostalgic.

  • Eau De Parfum™ Bubbly Rosefeatures champagne-colored blooms for a classic rose look with the added benefit of disease resistance.
  • Raspberry Cupcake™ Roseproduces a very strong raspberry fragrance with excellent resistance to mildew, rust, and black spot on the East Coast.
  • Reminiscent™ Coral Rosescombine the classic beauty and fragrance of old-fashioned roses with modern-day performance.


New Age™ Lavender Lilac
Pearl Potion from Van Belle - Year of the Lilac - National Garden Bureau

Pearl Potion Lilac

Lilacs hold many happy garden memories. Fortunately, the lilacs of yesteryear with their many diseases are a thing of the past with the new breeding work of today. Many new cultivars, like ‘New Age™ Lavender’ and ‘New Age™ White’, now boast resistance to powdery mildew.

And for small-space gardeners, new compact varieties like Pearl Potion™ provide deliciously sweet memories of old-world lilacs but in sizes perfect for containers.

Beginner Tip: If you garden in small spaces but love old-world shrubs, look for “compact” and “dwarf” in the descriptions of plant varieties. Most compact or dwarf varieties perform beautifully in containers or small garden spaces.


Hydrangea Cloud Nine

Cloud Nine Hydrangea
Pop Star® Bigleaf Hydrangea

Pop Star® Bigleaf Hydrangea
Early Evolution Hydrangea

Early Evolution Hydrangea

Hydrangeas provide sweet memories of time spent with family and friends in the garden. They can be used in so many ways in your garden, from a focal point to establishing a border and filling the foundation around your house. And they don’t just have to be planted in the landscape anymore either. Many hydrangeas, especially the newer varieties, are more compact and do incredibly well in a decorative pot.

Breeders are continually working on the Hydrangea and you’ll be glad they are.

  • Cloud Nine Hydrangeaforms flowers with remarkable petals up and down each stem, resulting in white lacecap flowers from spring to fall. The stunning petals offer intricate shapes in crisp white hues, as classic as a delicate lace.
  • Pop Star® Bigleaf Hydrangeais a compact hydrangea that blooms profusely from top to bottom, all season long featuring show-stopping electric blue or bright pink blooms, depending on the soil pH.
  • Early Evolution Hydrangeaoffers 5 months of blooms, from late spring through September. Buds open to lime-white flowers which turn pure white, developing a pink blush with age and maturing to red as fall approaches.


Blue Spear Lavender

Blue Spear Lavender
Lavender LaDiva Eternal Elegance

LaDiva Eternal Elegance Lavender
Lavender Violeta Purple by Syngenta Flowers - Year of the Lavender - National Garden Bureau

Violeta™ Lavender

Is there anything prettier or more nostalgic than lavender in a homegrown bouquet? With the romantic fragrance and beauty of these old-world gems, they’re sure to evoke sweet memories of your grandmother’s garden or kitchen table. Perhaps you spent time making lavender wands as a child, or maybe your favorite relative shared homemade lavender shortbread as an afternoon treat. Whatever your memories, growing lavender in the garden is sure to conjure simpler, sweeter times.

Because lavender thrives in Mediterranean-like conditions, many gardeners find it fussy in their landscapes. Too cold, and it isn’t hardy. Too humid, and it succumbs to disease. Fortunately, new varieties conquer many problems often found with lavender. By selecting lavender varieties appropriate to your growing conditions, you can enjoy a long season of beautiful, fragrant memories in your garden.

  • Blue Spear Lavender is the showiest English lavender you can grow! Plants are drought-tolerant and very fragrant.
  • LaDiva Eternal Elegance Lavenderhas an absolute profusion of blooms from very early spring, continuing nonstop throughout the summer months. It is also very compact, perfect for containers.
  • Violeta™ Lavenderis a Spanish lavender with vigorous growth habits and wonderfully scented large purple flowers.

Beginner Tip: If you love lavender, make sure it has great drainage. Lavender dislikes soggy soil, so add grit or perlite to potting mixes for container growing, and make sure the pot has drainage holes. If you plant it in-ground, make sure the soil drains well. Add sand or gravel to the site if necessary.


Opalescence from Proven Winners - Year of the Phlox - National Garden Bureau

Opalescence Phlox
Phlox Coral Super Ka-Pow

Coral Super Ka-Pow Phlox
Phlox Younique® Roundabout

Younique® Roundabout Phlox

The large, charming blooms of garden phlox create a nostalgic feel, both in the garden and in the vase. These old-world perennials look lovely in cottage gardens, but many gardeners find their fussiness frustrating, particularly their notorious tendency to succumb to powdery mildew. Fortunately, new introductions of tall garden phlox focus on disease resistance, as well as offering options for small-space gardens, with shorter, more compact, well-branching plants.

  • Opalescence Phlox has light pink flowers with dark pink eyes produced over dark green leaves. Opalescence was selected especially for its improved resistance over typical Phlox paniculata varieties.
  • Coral Super Ka-Pow Phlox have super-sized flowers on super long-blooming plants. Easy-care plants have a nice upright growth habit, powdery mildew resistance, and are frost tolerant.
  • Younique® Roundabout Phlox is a compact phlox with large clusters of purple flowers with a contrasting white eye. The fragrant flowers are rich in nectar and are visited frequently by hummingbirds and butterflies.

Whether you’ve chosen beautiful blooms or fabulous fragrances for your nostalgic garden, you’ll love the memories your plants evoke—while creating new memories in your garden space.

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