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Rose Campion

Lychnis coronaria

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.

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

Growth Type: 
Perennial
Color(s): 
Reds, Purple, Pink, White
Hardiness Zones: 
Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5, Zone 6, Zone 7, Zone 8
Location at Monticello: 
West Lawn
Planting Conditions: 
Full Sun
Blooming History: 
2001 May 25 to 2001 Aug 172002 May 20 to 2002 Jul 122003 May 23 to 2003 Jul 252004 May 25 to 2004 Jul 192005 May 27 to 2005 Jul 202006 May 24 to 2006 Aug 72007 May 22 to 2007 Jul 202008 May 28 to 2008 Jul 252009 May 29 to 2009 Sep 12010 May 10 to 2010 Sep 12011 May 7 to 2011 Aug 82012 May 3 to 2012 Jul 202013 May 31 to 2013 Jul 192014 Jun 5 to 2014 Jul 22015 May 18 to 2015 Jun 242016 Jun 3 to 2016 Jul 202017 May 18 to 2017 Jun 212018 May 23 to 2018 Aug 9
Visit Monticello’s Online Shop to check for seeds or plants of Rose Campion.

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