Sunday, May 31, 2009

That Rose Campion--she seemed like such a nice girl!

Lychnis coronaria (Rose Campion) Photo: Stockxpert

Rose Campion. She sounds like a demure little plant, doesn’t she? Her Latin name is Lychnis coronaria. Again, nothing to give you a clue about her feisty nature.

Lychnis coronaria’s looks are nothing to write home about. She grows from a basal rosette of fuzzy, gray-green leaves and sends up many branching stems almost three-feet tall, with small, magenta flowers in early summer.

She’s no Homecoming Queen. So where does she get the tremendous self-confidence required to take over one of my perennial beds?

She came to my garden more than 15 years ago, as a gift to the previous owners. They were quite amused when she self-seeded in the shady edges near the back fence. She's a biennial, so one year would pass with few appearances from her, and the following year her flowers would be a happy surprise.

All that changed when she moved up in the world and got a toehold in a perennial bed.

No one invited her, she just showed up. Wanting to be polite to a new girl in the neighborhood, I let her hang out with the much prettier and more popular girls, the Tall Bearded Irises and herbaceous Peonies. Apparently the compost tea went to her head like wine.

Next thing I knew she was being rude to the perfectly nice Shasta Daisies, who never caused anyone any trouble.

Now she’s everywhere, grabbing attention as if she were Paris Hilton. I think she even has a Twitter account.

Only the mule deer seem able to ignore her.

Some of my gardener friends say they’d like her to come visit them, since she doesn’t mind the blistering foothills sun and doesn’t need a lot of water after the first summer.

Just watch out. She seems like a sweet little thing, but she’s a Mean Girl at heart.

© Daffodil Planter 2009. All rights reserved.

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"Daffodil Planter" Charlotte Germane said...

The many comments on this post were lost when I changed the photo illustration. That'll teach me!

To recap, reports came in from all over the world about the joys and sorrows of gardening with Rose Campion. Rob in France swore by her for the true magenta flowers, Grace told a tale of her infatuation and eventual spurning of Rose, and many rued the day she had entered their gardens. She seems most popular at a distance and in the shade. Comparisons were also drawn to that other thug, Centranthus ruber.

My Nevada County friends have happily rehomed many of Rose's progeny and more seeds will go to them in spring. They are still in the honeymoon phase with her....

Carol said...

I will never look at my 'Rose' the same again. She is welcome here and must fight to make herself known with all my other thugs! Losing comments is no fun... I have been saving the emails into a comment folder in my email program. They are all such gifts! Sorry for your loss.

Anna Flowergardengirl said...

One of my favorite plants and I can't seem to keep it. Lucky you!