Great Groups to Join and Learn From

There’s a lot to learn and enjoy at the websites of these organizations devoted to heirloom plants, historic landscapes, and bulbs. We hope you’ll consider joining one or more of them, to learn more, meet fellow enthusiasts, and support their good work.

Alliance for Historic Landscape Preservation,, mainly for professionals

American Daffodil Society,

American Dahlia Society,

American Hemerocallis Society,

American Peony Society,

California Garden and Landscape History Society,

The Cultural Landscape Foundation,, national leader in preserving historic landscapes

Heritage Rose Foundation,

Heritage Roses Group,

Historic Iris Preservation Society,

Plant Heritage, international leader, US membership £28 by Visa or MasterCard

North American Gladiolus Council,

North American Lily Society,

Southern Garden History Society,, valuable no matter where you live

Scott’s Tips for Finding Real Heirloom Plants

The search for authentic historic plants can be both fun and challenging. Modern hybrids are often very different from earlier varieties, many once-popular plants have all but disappeared, and counterfeits are common. Here are some tips to help you find real live antiques:

1. Start with what you have — including what seem to be weeds. Every site has old plants waiting to be re-discovered and re-appreciated.

2. Look over the fence — literally — and down the road. Ask neighbors, relatives, friends, and older gardeners. Heirlooms often persist in family gardens.

3. Collect seeds or plants from abandoned sites (with permission and sensitivity — never endangering the continued existence of that plant at its original site).

4. Consider species or wild forms of garden plants, which were usually the first in gardens.

5. Search to the cultivar level. Same genus and species is NOT the same plant. For example, Paeonia lactiflora ‘Humei’, introduced in 1810, is unlike any 20th-century P. lactiflora (and forms of P. officinalis, P. suffruticosa, and P. tenuifolia — as old as they may be — aren’t even close).

6. Join a group. See our list above for some of the best.

7. Order online. Though local nurseries definitely deserve our support, you’ll find a much greater diversity of heirloom plants offered by mail.

Great Sources to Explore for Heirloom Plants

These are some of our favorite sources for historic flowers and edibles. Many are run by friends of ours, so please tell them we said hello! — This popular catalog-rating website features customer reviews of thousands of sources. We’re proud to be the Watchdog’s #1-rated company for not only Heirloom Bulbs but ALL bulbs.

Antique Rose Emporium,, 9300 Lueckemeyer Rd., Brenham, TX 77833, (800) 441-0002, expert and friendly, not just for the South, dates

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds,, 2278 Baker Creek Rd., Mansfield, MO 65704, (417) 924-8917, creative, ambitious, and deeply committed to heirlooms, mostly edibles, some dates

Forestfarm,, 990 Tetherow Rd., Williams, OR 97544-9599, (541) 846-7269, vast list of over 5000 shrubs, trees, natives, etc.

Heirloom Seed Project,, 2451 Kissel Hill Rd., Lancaster, PA 17601, (717) 569-0401, preserving Pennsylvania-Dutch heirlooms, a model for local efforts everywhere

Heritage Flower Farm,, 33725 Hwy. L, Mukwonago, WI 53149, (262)662-0804, heirloom perennials, shrubs (including clove currant), wildflowers, etc., dates

J.L. Hudson,, PO Box 337, La Honda, CA 94020-0337, seeds only, many species, oddities, and varieties you won’t find elsewhere

Old House Gardens — Heirloom Bulbs (that’s us!),, 4175 Whitmore Lake Rd., Ann Arbor, MI 48105, (734) 995-1486, world’s leading specialist in heirloom bulbs, dates

Perennial Pleasures,, PO Box 147, East Hardwick, VT 05836, (802) 472-5104, great regional resource, mostly heirlooms and herbs, ships phlox only, dates by eras

Seed Savers Exchange,, 3094 N. Winn Rd., Decorah, IA 52101, (563) 382-5990, vegetables and more, international leader, great publications

Select Seeds,, 180 Stickney Hill Rd., Union, CT 06076, (800) 684-0395, heirloom and new flowers, some dates

Southmeadow Fruit Gardens,, PO Box 211, Baroda, MI 49101, (269) 422-2411, many old and new, more than 200 apples, some dates

Superstition Iris Gardens,, 2536 Old Highway, Cathey’s Valley, CA 95306, (209) 966-6277, mostly new iris but extensive list of historics, too, dates

Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants,, P.O. Box 316, Charlottesville, VA 22902, (434) 984-9822, much more than a seed and plant source, flowers and edibles, dates

William Tricker,, 7125 Tanglewood Dr., Independence, OH 44131, (800) 524-3492, since 1892, waterlilies, many old, some dates