Photo and article by Donna Iverson
As summer approaches, more and more old fashioned flowers are catching my eye. I’m guessing that it’s nostalgia for simpler times, or memories of my grandparents’ garden or their sweet fragrance and soft colors that attract my attention.
Even today, many a garden will have one or two old fashioned flowers, such as …peonies, sweet pea, roses, hollyhocks, lily of the valley, foxglove and snapdragons, to name a few.
Among the easiest to grow and care for are the snapdragons. Propagated from seed, they flower from spring to fall in colors of yellow, purple, rose, pink, red and white. Like many old fashion flowers, they have a sweet fragrance that is stronger at night.
If you have a deck or patio, they are happy in containers and make fine cut flowers. As for pollinators, they attract both bees and hummingbirds. Varieties have delightful names like Madam Butterfly, Lucky Lips, Cinderella, and the Black Prince.
Hardy in Zones 7 - 10, snapdragons are grown as annuals in Michigan. Depending on the variety and soil conditions, they grow two to five feet tall. They are native to the Mediterranean and western North America.
Medicinally, snapdragon flowers are anti-inflammatory and have been used to treat external wounds. The flowers are also edible and can garnish salads and deserts, although their flavor is not particularly tasty.
The name snapdragon comes from their tendency to “snap” when the sides of the blooms are pressed together. The flowers are also said to resemble dragon faces.
Symbolically, the snapdragon represents grace and strength although some believe it has a dark side, symbolizing deception. In Medieval Europe, it was used to ward off bad luck.