I’m looking for ideas to design the garden at our 1 1/2 story home. The house was built in 1891. I would like to plant some flowers that would have been popular at the time the house was built. Can you help?
The Victorian Period (1837-1901) was an era that followed major upgrades in manufacturing, transportation and agriculture. These improvements gave people more leisure time to pursue other interests such as flower gardening.
The Victorians loved flowers both in the garden and in the home so there a lot of examples you can follow when designing a planting plan for your Victorian era house.
Near the house formal lawns, both in the front and back, surrounded by very ornate cast iron fences were in vogue.
Gardens further from the house were of a ‘country’ style that was casual and more natural. Usually these areas were also fenced, but if wooden pickets were used they were hidden behind flowering shrubs such as azaleas, hydrangeas,
roses and forsythia.
Carpet bedding is a concept that was made popular by the Victorians. A carpet bed is a flower bed designed to
resemble a carpet by using low-growing plants of even height. At first the designs were simple geometric shapes, but later evolved into more intricate patterns like butterflies or sundials. Plants such as alternanthera, echeveria, santolina, senecio, sempervivum and sedums were popular for carpet bedding.
Flower beds, window boxes and stone planters sported alyssums, heucheras, dianthus, phlox, delphiniums, hollyhocks, lilacs, ageratum, tuberous begonia, caladium, campanula, coleus, scented geranium, impatiens, lobelia, marigold, nasturtium, oxalis, periwinkle, petunias, moss rose, primrose, verbena, zinnia, tulips, asters, chrysanthemums, daylilies, hosta, violets, snapdragons, and ivy. Fences and arbors displayed honeysuckle, moonflower, clematis or wisteria.
Cut flowers for inside the house were important in the Victorian garden. Azaleas, carnations, daisies, geraniums,
roses, ferns and lily-of-the-valley were popular for this purpose. Each flower in an arrangement was displayed
surrounded by greenery. One special note, roses and geraniums of the Victorian era were either pink or red.
Garden ornament was essential. Urns, sculptures, gazing balls, birdbaths, sundials, benches, and garden pools with
goldfish all became part of the lavish displays.
A great reference for plants for your Victorian style garden are seed catalogs that carry old-fashioned, antique or
heritage types of flowers and plants.