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Antirrhinum majus - Snapdragon
Scientific Name: Antirrhinum majus
Common Name: Snapdragon
The earliest known mention of this plant in an American source is in Thomas Jefferson's garden book.1 Jefferson first observed the snapdragon flower blooming at his childhood home, Shadwell, in 1767.2 He later listed it among the hardy flowers to be planted in a "shrubbery" at Monticello.3
This southern European native has been cultivated in American gardens since the mid-18th century. Philadelphia nurseryman Bernard McMahon included the "Common Snapdragon" in his 1806 American Gardener's Calendar as a biennial flower.4 By the mid-1800s, many snapdragon cultivators had developed a variety of colors and forms. In 1890, however, Peter Henderson noted in his Henderson's Handbook of Plants and General Horticulture that "this plant, in its wild state, is very commonly found growing on the tops of old walls."5 It became a favorite for Victorian bedding schemes.6
The snapdragon is a summer-blooming flower grown as an annual with deep wine-red blossoms on upright stems.
- Peggy Cornett, n.d.
- Coats, Alice M. Flowers and Their Histories. London: Black, 1968. See pp. 24-25.
- Dutton, Joan Parry. Plants of Colonial Williamsburg. Williamsburg: Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 1979.
- Look for more of Jefferson's references in his garden book. Manuscript and transcription available online at Coolidge Collection of Thomas Jefferson Manuscripts, Massachusetts Historical Society.
- Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants.
- 1. Denise Wiles Adams, Restoring American Gardens: An Encyclopedia of Heirloom Ornamental Plants, 1640-1940 (Portland, OR: Timber Press, Inc., 2004), 169; Ann Leighton, American Gardens in the Eighteenth Century (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1986), 479.
- 2. Betts, Garden Book, 5. Manuscript and transcription of Jefferson's garden book at the Coolidge Collection of Thomas Jefferson Manuscripts, Massachusetts Historical Society. See also Edwin M. Betts, Hazlehurst Bolton Perkins, and Peter J. Hatch, Thomas Jefferson's Flower Garden at Monticello, 3rd ed. (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1986), 53.
- 3. Betts, Garden Book, 27.
- 4. Bernard McMahon, The American Gardener's Calendar: 1806 (Charlottesville: Thomas Jefferson Foundation, 1997), 291, 292, and 344.
- 5. Peter Henderson, Henderson's Handbook of Plants and General Horticulture (New York: P. Henderson & Co., 1890), 26.
- 6. David Stuart and James Sutherland, Plants from the Past: Old Flowers for New Gardens (London: Penguin Books, 1989), 79.