Summer blue bells

c`mp persici2

Campanula persicifolia, the peach-leafed bellflower, is one of the best loved and most popular campanulas and has everything we look for in a garden border plant: it is reliably hardy, flowers for a long time, its generally easy to grow, is good for cutting and can be passed onto friends by division and seed. It looks good in a smart, formal border and in a cottage garden. It has been a component of British gardens since the 1500s and is native to central Europe.

The common name refers to the leaves which look like the foliage of a peach tree, hence ‘persicifolia’ (peach is Prunus persica). In addition to the simple blue species there are forms with white flowers and also double and cup-and-saucer types and all are beautiful. I had a quick count and the RHS Plantfinder list 99 varieties for sale from UK nurseries – I doubt that all are totally distinct.

I love the texture and shape of these flowers and the way the blooms open here and there all the way up the stems, often with the top bud opening first. Although I have a tendency to prefer the rare and unusual I am not very keen on the doubles though if I had to pick just one it would be ‘Chettle Charm’ which has white flowers lightly edged with blue.

But here I have some raised from seed from Plantworld seeds sown in 2013. There were a few flowers last year but this year the plants made nice fat clumps of narrow leaves and are now thrusting up slender, wiry stems to 1m high and there are blue and white plants among them.

Being so tall and slender this campanula gives height and elegance but it can be felled by strong winds. I have it growing through spreading borage which holds up the campanulas but does bring with it an issue! What colour are these flowers? Blue? Well I would have said so until you compare them to the blooms of the borage. Suddenly they appear more on the purple side of blue. Does it matter? Not one jot!

It can help if you deadhead the plants to promote more blooms and some people apparently pick off the individual flowers as they fade. If you have time for this then good for you but I will just cut off the stems as most of the flowers have faded. In some parts of the world this can become a weed but it would be a pretty weed. It grows best in full sun and in shade it will not flower as profusely and will be more likely to lean or lol or become horizontal. You can easily divide clumps in spring or you can collect seeds and grow lots of new plants that way.

c`mp persici

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6 Comments on “Summer blue bells”

  1. Chloris
    June 26, 2015 at 8:05 am #

    It seeds everywhere in my garden, in blue and white, but it is always welcome. Like you, I prefer the single one.

    • thebikinggardener
      June 28, 2015 at 9:12 am #

      My plants are not old enough to self seed and I do hoe a lot because the beds are new and there is a lot of bare soil – but I would be happy to see it self seed 🙂

  2. Meriel
    June 26, 2015 at 3:16 pm #

    I wish I could grow it successfully as it is a favourite of mine – among so many favourites. I’m jealous, as usual! It doesn’t favour my light dry soil & is yet another thing the deer love, particularly C. persicifolia ( sorry to keep saying this, but other readers may have the same problem & wonder why they get so few flowers, it was ages before I realised) I have never come across a seedling.
    Campanula trachelium is another matter however. I like it but plant it at your peril. It seeds everywhere so much, that in borders it has become a nuisance. It needs more moisture to do its best & becomes a mess with rust. But can I banish it to my wild garden – not a chance!

    • thebikinggardener
      June 28, 2015 at 9:14 am #

      I am sorry you have this eaten by deer as well. I have grown C. trachelium before and in other gardens tackled to curb it. I used to pick it as a cut flower as much as possible which reduced seeding a bit but it also spreads underground. It would be good in the wild gardeb if you could convince it to move on. THere is no rust on the camps here yet but I am sure it will come in time!

  3. sueturner31
    June 28, 2015 at 9:23 am #

    You’re a Plant World fan too. I have catalogues going back to 1996, they are like little encyclopedia to me. My latest success is a yellow Gloriosa lutea. Grown from PW seed in 2013 this has two buds. I too am a great fan of C . persicifolia and sold several Chettle Charm at the open W/E. But I do find a lot of gardeners dismiss it saying to seeds too much, but I say you can’t have enough.

    • thebikinggardener
      June 28, 2015 at 9:34 am #

      I am a fan and know Ray quite well. That is a real achievement with the gloriosa! Well done – look after those buds! And i hope it true to type!

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