Northern Shade Gardening

Clustered Bellflower and Iris

Wednesday, June 25, 2008 Category: Perennials

Campanula glomerata (clustered bellflower) and yellow iris closeupPurple and yellow make a pretty combination. The blooming time of the purple Campanula glomerata (clustered bellflower) and yellow iris overlap right now, and I appreciate the look of these two flowers together.

The C. glomerata isn’t fully out yet, since the buds are just opening, but I couldn’t resist snapping these photos now. There might be a windstorm, or hail, and I’d miss this lovely combination. When the clustered bellflower opens fully, the bloom is a  round ball about 7 cm ( 3 inches) across at the top of the plant. They are a bluish purple as many of the bellflowers are. The blossoms usually last about 2 weeks. Sometimes the older plants will rebloom with smaller blooms from the leaf axis, if they are deadheaded.

Campanula glomerata (clustered bellflower), yellow iris and blue lobeliaIt’s a good idea to deadhead anyways, since this bellflower spreads too easily. You have to be ruthless with C. glomerata, or they take more than their fair share of space. The plant itself is not as attractive after blooming. The foliage is not great, and they tend to flop over after the heavy flower. They tolerate semi-shade, but get even floppier with more shade. However, when it is in bloom, it looks fabulous. The colour looks terrific combined with light yellow. I’ve combined it with pink, which looks good too. It’s difficult to recommend it wholeheartedly though, because of its spreading nature and downhill slide after blooming.

There are more Campanula (bellflowers) in my garden just starting to open now.  Most of the bellflowers start blooming in my garden around the first day of summer or shortly after. I’ll post more  photos of the other types of Campanula when they open more fully. They are one of my favourite genus. There is a wide variety of species of bellflowers, from tiny rock garden plants to taller specimens. I had a larger collection of them at my last house. Many of these perennials come in various shades of bluish purple to purple, as well as white. They vary in their ability to handle shade, but most are relatively easy care and adaptable. This post has more details about bellflowers for zone 3 with photos and descriptions.

You can read about some of the iris I grow here.

Do you like bellflowers? Which are your favourites?

17 Responses to “Clustered Bellflower and Iris” »

  1. Anonymous :
    June 25, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    What a lovely colour combination, the iris and the campanula look wonderful together.

    I like ‘Canterbury Bells’ (Campanula persicifolia), ‘Hare Bells’ (Campanula rotundifolia) and ‘Cups and Saucers’ (Campanula medium var calycanthema)and I have another that I bought when I was at Sissinghurst, which starts a purple mauve in bud and as it opens turns luminescent white Campanula lactiflora ‘Prichard’s Variety’.

    Zoë

  2. Sheila :
    June 25, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    Beautiful iris!

  3. Northern Shade :
    June 25, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    Zoe, I like those varieties of bellflowers too. My C. persicifolia used to get rust in my last garden, so I gave up on it. I should try it again here. I think that C. lactiflora is borderline hardy here, but I should give it a try. The ‘Pritchard’s Variety’ sounds great.

    Sheila, thanks. These iris have managed to sneak their heads into a lot of my photos.

  4. Amy :
    June 25, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    Yellow and purple is probably my favourite colour combination in the garden. I have a very low growing campanula with teeny tiny flowers that bloom true blue. It’s stunning in a large swath, but does spread pretty agressively. I’m hoping I’ll be able to get a photo when it blooms.

  5. Northern Shade :
    June 25, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    Amy, it sounds like it might be C. cochlearifolia (fairy thimble bellflower). I have the variety ‘Elizabeth Oliver’ which has a double light blue flower. I used to have an unnamed variety of fairy thimble bellflower which had tiny blue flowers too.

  6. Krys :
    June 26, 2008 at 7:53 am

    If only my campanula would spread a bit more aggressively…
    What kind of soil does it like?

  7. Gail :
    June 26, 2008 at 9:31 am

    They make a charming combo…I love visiting blogs and discovering new and exciting ways to combine plants!

    Am I ever glad you asked that question! Just this morning I noticed my tall bellflower..C americana has finally bloomed! It has small flowers but is said to be a hummingbird magnet! This Campanula is happy in moist soil… not sure why it is growing here!

    Gail

  8. Northern Shade :
    June 26, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    Krys, the Campanula glomerata (clustered bellflower) is really not fussy at all. It will grow in just about anything. If you have any, the next year you’ll be editing it.
    The Campanula portenschlagiana and Campanula poscharskyana spread, but not as much as the clustered bellflower. They seem fairly tolerant of different soils. They are easy to pull back if you want. They tolerate shade.
    The C. carpatica just expands gradually, not as much as the above bellflowers. It is very hardy and also tolerant of different soils.
    C. rotundifolia will expand too, but is easy to deal with. It also is not fussy.
    Some of the smallest bellflowers might like a bit better drainage.

  9. Northern Shade :
    June 26, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    Gail, the C. americana sounds great, a pretty bellflower with a bonus of pretty hummingbirds.
    On the whole, I’ve found this genus mostly easy care. It sounds like C. americana might be flexible.

  10. Barbara :
    June 29, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    I prefer the campanula persicifolia in the shadow (blue and white sorts). In the sun I have c. glomerata and c. lactiflora. I like all kinds of campanulas as long as all the slugs in my garden do not attack them too much ;-) !! I have the combination, roses with campanulas.

  11. Northern Shade :
    June 29, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    Barbara, I used to grow Campanula persicifolia, I should try some again. I loved the blue spires. I’m fortunate that I don’t have a lot of slugs, since I have a lot of Campanula.

  12. Shady Gardener :
    July 3, 2008 at 9:53 am

    You are right! There are many varieties of Bell Flowers. My favorite magazine in the world is Garden Gate. They often devote a lot of space to particular flower species. A couple of years ago they had a comprehensive article on Campanula and their growth habits. I really do like them, and would like to get a couple more varieties. :-)

  13. Northern Shade :
    July 3, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    Shady Gardener, I just picked up a new type of bellflower, but I’m not sure if it’s going to be hardy in zone 3. It might turn out to be an annual here.

  14. tina :
    January 19, 2009 at 8:49 am

    I am glad I ran into this post, as I had no idea what type of bellflowers I had. Two types, and this is one of them. Good descriptions too. Thanks.

  15. Northern Shade :
    January 19, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    Tina, you’re welcome, I’m glad it could help. There are so many wonderful bellflowers.

  16. Sandy :
    June 15, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    Your iris are very beautiful.

    This may be a strange question, but where they ever a solid purple? I have the very same iris in my garden this year but they have been purple for over 20 years until now! I’m not sure what has happened. I haven’t changed anything in the soil. We live in an area with no immediate neighbours, etc. On google I can only find references to purple iris sometimes turning while or light blue.

    Any thoughts are welcome.

  17. Northern Shade :
    June 15, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    Sandy, these ones have been this colour combination of yellow and purple for the last ten years.

    I did have the opposite happen though, when some two toned purple iris suddenly appeared two years ago. I think that mine were probably self seeded. I have a lot of iris, so I must have missed dead heading some of them, and they cross pollinated, producing seed. Then I must not have noticed them until they matured and flowered. It’s possible that this is what happened to yours. Perhaps some pollinators travelled a ways. I’m not sure of the percentage likelihood of solid purple iris still carrying the genetics for a two colour yellow and purple iris, but plant genetics is fascinating. Imagine all of the possibilities that breeders have to keep track of.

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