May 20, 2019

Jewel in the Crown

Editor’s note: This week we are featuring heirlooms from The Heirloom Garden of Maine, located in Montville. Their expansive catalog offers an array of heirloom plants — some well-known and some obscure — that have graced gardens for centuries as much for their beauty as for their usefulness. You can view their catalog here and visit their website here.

Lychnis coronaria - Rose Campion

Lychnis coronaria – Rose Campion | Photo Courtesy of The Heirloom Garden of Maine

The copious blooms atop Lychnis coronaria’s long, silvery stems are its crowning glory. Rose campion is native to Europe and Asia and is a member of the carnation family. It is hardy to Zone 4 and can grow nearly 3 feet in height. The usual shade for L. coronaria is a deep magenta, hence the rose in the common name. The downy foliage is a silver-green, much like lamb’s ear. According to The Heirloom Garden of Maine’s catalog, “Colonists used the leaves of rose campion for wicks in oil lamps.” Rose campion is a fuss-free plant, doing OK even in poor soils and dry conditions. It can, however, self-seed with a vengeance. So deadhead the plant if you don’t want an invasion. Otherwise, let it run amok and enjoy the show.