Although he had been writing songs since he was a boy and had published his first as early as October 1902, it was not until 1919 that Cole Porter had his first hit, "Old-Fashioned Garden." This came about when he was asked to write a song for Hitchy-Koo Of 1919
by Raymond Hitchcock and his backers for the show. The girls were wearing flower costumes that had been ordered, but never used, by Ziegfeld for his Follies
According to his biographer George Eells, many years later Porter said this song - which he described not entirely accurately as "one of the first songs I wrote" - was criticized in England "because I had the wrong flowers growing together. Since that time I have been extremely careful. I took a course in anatomy before I wrote the lyrics for the doctor song...for Gertrude Lawrence," adding that he had studied "all manner of insect and animal life" before he started on "Let's Do It
Not everyone was impressed. Musicologist Sigmund Spaeth said both this song and "Yes, We Have No Bananas" were derived from "The Quilting Party," described here as an early melody.
Whether or not this is true, "Old-Fashioned Garden" (or "An Old-Fashioned Garden") would go on to sell over a 100,000 copies of the sheet music. It has been claimed that Cole wrote it near the Front in WWI, but this is not correct.