The caryophyllaceae family is more easily called the Pink family. It includes several weedy species, including mouse-eared and common chickweed (Cerastium and Stellaria, respectively) but also some of the more charming of garden plants: Dianthus (pinks and carnations), silene (catchflies and campions) Saponaria (soapwort) and Lychnis, (also catchflies and campions.)
We all know lots of pinks, from the cheddar pinks to sweet William to carnations; I have a silene and a saponaria, but it's the Lychnis species that are causing me entertainment (and puzzlement) of late. Some botanical flora collections put Lychnis into Silene in recent years, because of there not being enough distinction to put Lychnis into its own genus. Gotta love DNA testing,, which determines a lot of the classifications these days. Many gardeners still call Lychnis by that name, and I'm going to for the time being.
One of the best known is Maltese cross, Lychnis chalcedonica. We have it in red, white, and salmon, and I'm hardpressed to say which I like the best; all attract butterflies so they're all welcome.
But I have these other two orange-red species that I'm puzzling out. In this photo, you see Maltese cross first, then the two other species, both with significantly larger flowers:
The largest flowered one, which my friend Sharon thought might be L. arkwrightii, has bright green foliage; but it also has these furry flower buds that, when open, become the fused sepals holding the petals--and aren't they furry?
Here's the backs of all three flowers: each has some hairs, but the largest one is the furriest.
I have vacillated between thinking it's a variant of L.arkwrightii and L. miqueliana; the foliage is bright green with no bronze or red or purple undertones. The middle flower is delightful too--scarlet orange splashed with silver as the petals range towards the centre. I haven't a clue where I got this or what it is, and its label is also long gone. I am sure, however, that I picked up the largest-flowered variety at West River Greenhouses last year, so I must call and see if they know what I have.
This is Lychnis coronaria, rose campion. I love its vibrant deep fuchsia flowers and silvery foliage. We also have the white form as well as Oculata, which is white with a pale pink 'eye'.
The fluffy lychnis is Lychnis flos-cuculi 'Jenny', as I observed a double ragged robin. I bought this at a big box store, having never seen it anywhere else; it's been flowering steadily since I planted it, and I like it for its texture more than its colour.
If anyone has any suggestions about my two mystery Lychnis/Silene, I'm all ears. I've looked through all my Rix and Phillips books, and can't find either of these...I think they're gorgeous, however and am delighted that they came back after last year--despite my almost digging up the silver and orange one thinking it was a weed!
One further observation; how do other digital-camera users get their red-flowered plants to show up reasonably accurately in photos? i went to my handy dandy camera professionals the other day, asking whether I was doing something wrong because my red flowers come out orangish--and lacking in detail. Rick, my camera guru, told me that it's not me--it's the sensor in the digital camera which cannot capture natural reds accurately. There are a number of fixes (mostly in Photoshop) but I'll have to study up on this; I always stress that I'm a writer who takes photos, not a photographer as such. But I AM taking a course this fall from my camera guru, because nothing is as effective as learning first hand from a pro.