Jefferson first planted "China Pinks" at Shadwell, his birthplace, in 1767 and again at Monticello in 1807.1 Also known as Indian Pinks, the species was introduced from China and has been cultivated in Europe and America since the early 18th century. (Lady Skipwith and John Bartram mention this plant in the first half of the 18th century.)2
Jefferson grew other various types of Dianthus at Monticello in his 1807 Oval Flower Beds. He lists the Carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus) and Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus).3
China Pinks is a summer flowering annual or short-lived perennial with large single flowers with fringed petals in colorful patterns of pink and crimson to white shades.
- Peggy Cornett, 2010
Primary Source References
1812 December 1. (Bernard McMahon to Jefferson). "I also do myself the pleasure of enclosing you some superior China Pink and Auricula seeds; the latter should be sown some time in this month, as directed in page 646 of my work on Gardening."4
1813 January 11. (Jefferson to Bernard McMahon). "I have too long delayed returning you thanks for your favors of Nov. 24. & Dec. 1. and the hyacinth roots with the seeds of the China pink, Auricula, & fiorin grass which came safely to hand."5