When Jefferson noted the "Lychnis bloom" at Shadwell in 1767, he was probably referring to the wooly-leaved Rose Campion, also very popular in early American gardens.1 Rose Campion was sold by Bernard McMahon, the Philadelphia nurseryman, who listed three color forms in his 1804 broadside catalog  including a bi-colored form called "Painted Lady." Jefferson received seed of "Lychnis" from McMahon in 1807.2

The species rose campion, also called rose campy, is a native of Europe. It was being cultivated in English gardens by the 17th century (including cultivating double forms) and in American gardens by the 1700s. According to Denise Adams, the first known mention of the rose campion by an American source is in Thomas Jefferson's garden book.3 

The rose campion is a hardy, early summer flowering biennial or short-lived perennial with brilliant, magenta-colored flowers and contrasting thick, fuzzy, gray-green foliage.

Visit Monticello’s Online Shop to check for seeds or plants of Rose Campion.

Typical Blooming Dates: May-July
Growth Type: Perennial
Blossom Color(s): Reds, Purple, Pink, White
Hardiness Zones: 3-8
Location at Monticello: West Lawn
Planting Conditions: Full Sun

Primary Source References

1807 November 9. (Ann Cary Randolph to Jefferson). "Before I left Monticello they had increased so much as to fill the beds quite full ... Lychnis ... failed ...."4

Further Sources