poetry and prose about place

a moment of beautiful – old-fashioned flowers

with 12 comments

the space: the side of a cottage in the late summer sun

the beautiful: a riot of Golden Glow, leaning against the wall


Last week, on a drive along the South Branch of the Oromocto River, I noticed the fall flowers have taken over from the summer species.  The fields are filled with Goldenrod (Solidago spp.) and the ditches with Pearly Everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea (L.) C.B. Clarke).  In some of the yards were three flowers I think of as ‘old fashioned’ – French Marigolds (Tagetes patula L.), Hollyhock (Alcea spp.), and Golden Glow (Rudbeckia laciniata (L.) var. Hortensia).  I love the orange of the Marigolds, the papery pinks and purples of the Hollyhock, and how the Golden Glow leans!

These plants were my first introduction to the concepts of  ‘annual’, ‘biennial’ and ‘perennial’.   The French Marigold was an annual, and grew only for a single year.  The Hollyhock was a biennial (although some are weak perennials), living a year without flowers and then blooming in the second year.  The Golden Glow came up year after year without benefit of seeds or fuss, a perennial.

I remember helping my Mom collect seeds so she would always have the Hollyhocks and French Marigolds.   If I close my eyes, I can see my hand holding the pointy black French Marigold seeds and the flat Hollyhock seeds with their furry edges.

When we first built our house, I was anxious to have these plants in my garden, but after blooming for a few years at the edge of the house, the Golden Glow died out, and I could never get Hollyhocks to flower.  Both need lots of sun and we have only shade to offer.  I often grow French Marigolds.  I still have the seeds I collected from our first garden here, stuffed in an old metal seed box.  I doubt they are still viable, but when I open the box, I see the seeds of the Marigolds that bloomed here 32 years ago!

The seeds I collected from our first garden of Marigolds in 1980… they are kept in an antique box marked ‘St. Albans England – Ryders Seed – D.P.’  Ryders was a seed company operated in England beginning in the 1890s.  It sold seed in ‘penny packets’ to be affordable for everyone.

What are your favorite ‘old-fashioned’ flowers and do you see them much anymore?



Pearly Everlasting

Anaphalis margaritacea L.


Pearly Everlasting

sign of summer’s passing

yet – immortelle

picked by the road

by the armload

hung from rafters

children’s laughter

runs beneath


downy leaf, wooly stem

white diadem

perfectly matched flowers

thatched in gold

dry and old


Linnaeus named

for Marguarite

memory sweet

paper petals keep

pale perfume

summer grace

in a winter room



Published as:  ‘Pearly Everlasting’, The Antingonish Review 92, 1993

Copyright   Jane Tims   2012

12 Responses

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  1. Our autumn flowers are blooming now too. Purple asters are mixing it up with the goldenrod in the meadow. The Golden Glow in your photo is beautiful, and I love your seed box.
    My mother used to grow Four O’Clocks in her garden, and I’d help her gather seeds each fall. I planted some in the yard of our previous home, but have not planted any here. Thank you for the reminder. I’ll have to see if I can find some seeds. 🙂



    August 21, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    • Hi Robin. I don’t think we ever grew Four O’Clocks … a neat name for a flower. We did grow Nastertiums and collected the seeds of those too. Jane


      jane tims

      August 22, 2012 at 3:50 pm

  2. Thank you, Jane. I also love old-fashioned flowers, including hollyhocks. I love all the spiky ones like delphiniums.


    Jane Fritz

    August 20, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    • Hi. I didn’t know until I did the research for this post, Hollyhocks are related to Mallow which also grows in our garden. I also like the taller flowers, Delphiniums and Larkspur. Jane


      jane tims

      August 20, 2012 at 9:10 pm

  3. Hi, Jane, I have planted seeds that are very old and been surprised to find that some of them are still viable. I can’t grow hollyhocks around here because they turn moldy in all the moisture we have. (I heard a statistic that Connecticut gets more percipitation than the north pacific coast which many consider the dampest place in the country.) But I know how frustrating it is to have memories of growing certain things and then find ourselves in a place that just does not have the conditions for them. From such memories, poetry like yours flows. Many thanks.



    August 20, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    • Hi Merrill. I am going to try and sprout some of those marigold seeds. It will be interesting to see if I can get some to grow after all these years! Jane


      jane tims

      August 20, 2012 at 9:03 pm

  4. Nice, nostalgic post, Jane. Here in Denmark, hollyhocks are everywhere, as well as lavender, mums, a pretty variety of daisies, roses, of course…. and some kind of very pretty simple, light pink flowers which grow fairly tall, up to my chest, they are deiicate and really lovely. Thanks for sharing some memories with us.



    August 20, 2012 at 4:39 pm

  5. Love the poem, the riot of colour and that old box!



    August 20, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    • Hi. Thanks! The box is a real treasure. I found it in an antique shop years ago. Jane


      jane tims

      August 20, 2012 at 9:01 pm

  6. Dear Jane, “summer grace/in a winter room” lovely post! This time of year is so beautiful. Blessings, Ellen


    Ellen Grace Olinger

    August 20, 2012 at 9:51 am

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