I have vivid memories of working in the yard when I was a child. It was a family effort, weeding the flower beds (my sisters and me), mowing the grass with a push mower (my dad), raking leaves in the fall, and hauling everything to a pile by the burn barrel to be burned once dry. The joys of growing flowers escaped me then; it was just a lot of work.
After the yard was spruced up, Dad would fire up the barbecue and we'd have a picnic in the back yard. I remember warm summer days and soft breezes, blue skies, web lawn chairs, and ice cream floats. Those were good days.
My dad loved flowers, but I only have sketchy memories of what actually grew in the yard. There were azaleas and rhododendrons, and a thorny witch hazel in one corner. And there were a lot of trees: locust, mountain ash, dogwood, and hemlock. Mom loved the shade; we girls always wished for just a little patch of sun for sunbathing.
We moved to our little farm in the fall, so I had no idea what would push up come spring. Like my childhood home, the gardens were full of rhododendrons and azaleas, and surrounded by trees. I was happy to find daisies and primroses, and especially pleased to find rose campion, something I remembered from my parent's yard, but had never seen anywhere else.
I loved that connection. Memories of home and childhood, every time I look out the windows.
. . . . .
Rose campion was being cultivated in English gardens by the 1600s, and came to America in the 1700s. The first mention of Rose campion in American gardening literature is in Thomas Jefferson's garden book, where in 1767 he recorded that the Lychnis was in bloom at his boyhood home. It's a hardy biennial that blooms in early summer, with brilliant magenta flowers and fuzzy gray-green foliage.