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True Heirloom Plants

May 7th, 2011

I talk about heirloom vegetables all the time. Most of the plants in my edible garden are heirlooms, passed down throughout the generations, but not in my immediate family. I do have a few plants that are heirlooms in my family. Plants that have been passed down from my grandma to my mom and then on to me.

This Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis) comes from my mom’s garden. I got a start of it a few years ago. She got her start from her mom’s garden many years ago. I also have a peony that came from the house my mom’s parents bought when she was a little girl. It was already growing in the garden when they purchased the house over 50 years ago. My mom got starts from it when she had a garden of her own, and she’s given me starts of it as well.

I also have two snowball viburnums (Viburnum macrocephalem) that are starts from a bush my dad’s mom planted down at the family cabin and it’s been blooming beside the shed for as long as I can remember. I was able to get two starts from it last year. My grandma was always happy when it was blooming, she called it the snowball bush. It’s nice to know when I see these plants that my grandmothers grew and enjoyed them in their gardens as well, true heirloom plants!

Do you have any plants that are heirlooms in your family?

19 Comments to “True Heirloom Plants”
  1. Jennifer on May 7, 2011 at 9:26 am

    My grandmother had a “snowball bush” too! I think they removed it a few years ago, though. Otherwise I’d love to get a clipping from it! Special occasion pictures were always taken in front of that bush.

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  2. Chrisi on May 7, 2011 at 9:39 am

    I also have some of the Convallaria that my grandmother had growing in her garden… My father and I dug it all up when she moved out of her house… And I live in the house my mother grew up in so I have had some old roses and things left behind from my grandmother. Not everything they had planted made it through the few renters living here before me. But its just nice living in my grandparent’s house.

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  3. Daedre Craig on May 7, 2011 at 9:42 am

    I have grape hyacinth, bearded iris, and moss phlox from my parents house. They’ve been growing at their house as long as I can remember (so at least 25 years). I have given away many many iris rhizomes, so these plants are slowly getting spread around Michigan!

    We also have some native opuntia cactus from our relatives in Pennsylvania. It’s hard to believe that cactus will survive year round in Michigan.

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  4. Anne on May 7, 2011 at 10:31 am

    My parents live in a house built by old family friends. The husband planted some beautiful flowers around the property. So far I have irises and daylilies from there and one day will dig up some of the peonies to divide and take starts home. Unfortunately, I was not able to get any flowers from either Grandmother. I wish I had. Especially my Mom’s mom’s rosebush.

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  5. amy on May 7, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    Lovely post…I am a huge proponent of passing down and around familial things. I have many family antiques, photos and flora. I have daylilies, iris, strawberries, peonies…..all of which have been given to us by my husband’s and my family. It is wonderful every spring to see the daffodils that were given to me as a memorial to my grandmother when she passed. She had a green thumb and I look for them every spring….When my children grow up and get places of their own….I will pass the daffodils, daylilies, iris etc..on to them…so that they will have floral memories of all of those who have gone on before.

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  6. KimH on May 7, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    I have some iris that I dug up a couple years ago on a visit to Texas that were in the then yard of one of my grandma’s cousins when they were children.. about 100 years ago… I need to move them because they’re just not happy where they are but they’re still alive as are the ones flourishing in the North Texas pasture.

    I also have a peony from my honey’s moms yard and some of her house plants. Unfortunately, that is all. I wished I had more.

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  7. MAYBELLINE on May 7, 2011 at 1:45 pm


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  8. kristin @ going country on May 7, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    They’re all heirlooms at Blackrock, thanks to continuous family occupation.

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  9. Kathi on May 7, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    We divided up my mother’s peony after she passed away and each child has a part of it. It’s the thing I look most forward to seeing every spring. Love the idea of giving my daughters a piece of it when they settle down.

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  10. Jennifer Fisk on May 7, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    I have Rhubarb that came from my Grandmother’s bed in upstate NY. My parents got root stock from Grandma in 1946 and it is still growing next door at my Dad’s. In 1995, they brought root stock to me in Maine. I have an amazing bed of Rhubarb every year. I always think of my beloved Grandma when I pick some.

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  11. Michael on May 7, 2011 at 9:47 pm

    I have rhubarb and iris that came from my great-grandfather’s house (turn of the century southern Ontario)

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  12. Sincerely, Emily on May 7, 2011 at 10:44 pm

    Lily of the Valley is one of my favorites. My Gramps and Grandma had it originally, now my mom has it. I am not sure it would grow where I live, but we have some at the family cabin, so I know I can always get some. Hostas have also been through a few generations and myrtle too. Right now I have some sedum, bee balm, succulents, yarrow and cone flower From my gram to my mom to me. Emily

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  13. Michelle Leigh on May 8, 2011 at 12:40 am

    This is such a sweet post and comment thread. Makes me really wish I’d gotten plants from my parents’ and grandparents’ places before we moved. I keep meaning to go back and see if the current residents will let me have a cutting from my mom’s old lilac bush, which she got as a cutting from her friend and neighbor.

    I miss my rural roots. :)

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  14. judy meade on May 8, 2011 at 9:03 am

    I have divisions of your grandma’s daffodils and irises. They’ve been doing well all these years. I plan on giving some to the kids once they someplace to put them. I also took cuttings from a beautiful bush one of my aunts had. She called it a flowering pear – not sure that is correct but it gets big by sending up shoots every year. We had to dig it out because of some renovations but saved some to plant once we’re done. It has single petaled white flowers that are slighty fragrant.The best thing about it is the birds love it because it provides a place to stay summer or winter. Phographed a lot birds in that bush.

    I’ve also planted trees in honor of several grandchildren here at the house. I will plant more this year. BTW, congrats on your photos being published. Love your blog.

    We’re starting to save our rain water this year. We bought four 300gal. containers from a farmer last year. With all the roofs around here we will have no problem finding a place for them. Could you send a description of your setup? We might be able to use that system as well.

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    • Susy on May 24, 2011 at 1:21 pm

      Sounds like you’ll be getting enough water for your gardens.

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  15. Melissa on May 8, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    I have a lantana that I planted this year from my mother’s garden. Also a miniature red rose bush that came from my grandfather’s garden before he passed away several years ago.

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  16. Jenelle Jordan on May 9, 2011 at 7:51 pm

    i love this post!! I have lilly of the valley that was my Grandmother’s. I cherish its fragrance every year as it reminds me of Summers spent with her!

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  17. Kelly (The Sorry Gardener) on May 9, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    I have some rhubarb and daylilies from my grandma and some peonies that were from her dad’s garden (so my great-grandpa). Somehow I feel closer to my family roots from the plants than from old photos or the mapping of the family tree.

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  18. Corner Garden Sue on May 10, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    I enjoyed scrolling down reading your posts. My husband and I live in the house he grew up in. My mother-in-law did not have a lot of flowers, but her lilies of the valleys, 3 of her peonies, and hostas are still here. (Larry made me dig up the 2 or 3 on the east side of the house that were growing next to or in the lawn, which later was turned into a flower bed after all.) His mom used to grow moonflowers, and I can’t imagine why there were no longer any here, but she had been gone 10 years before my father-in-law passed. I looked until I found some to plant, and will never have to look for plants or seeds again.

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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