The Campanula portenschlagiana ‘Hoffman’s Blue’ (Hoffman’s blue Dalmatian bellflower) are covered with more blooms every day. This petite bellflower has purple bells that face upwards with petals that flare back. The word ‘blue’ in the name is applied loosely, as it often is with flowers, to mean something from the blue/purple part of the spectrum. These perennials are very long blooming. This is the first Campanula to bloom in the summer in my garden, followed by C. posharskyana (Serbian bellflower).
The deciduous foliage of C. portenschlagiana is great in a cold climate. It shows green after the first frosts, and provides early greenery in the spring. The old foliage fades as the new fresh foliage appears in the spring.
This area between the houses is very shady, getting mostly indirect light, but you can see how many flowers it gets, even in these conditions. This perennial does very well, squeezed into this narrow space between the foundation and the walkway. The bed is usually dry, since it is under the roof overhang, and I don’t give this area as much supplemental water as the rest of the garden, but this plant seems very tolerant. I have a 10 metre (32 feet) long purple path of these blooms. Half of this strip had gravel when I moved in, but this bellflower is much prettier than white gravel.
When I first moved here, the other half of this section next to the house had been planted with Aegopodium (variegated goutweed). I allowed it to stay at first, since I mistakenly thought it would be contained by the sidewalk in front of the bed. It furtively sent runners under the sidewalk that started popping up in the lawn, grrr. I ran the lawn mower over those insidious scouts every week, and every week they popped back up, just as fresh looking. I dug them out of the lawn, but they popped back up.
Finally realizing that containment was a losing battle, I removed all the goutweed from the area next to the house 2 years ago, and replaced it with Campanula glomerata (clustered bellflower) from another part of the garden. I thought this would easily suppress the goutweed, since it has its own domination issues. The Aegopodium still grew again, springing from unseen rhizomes. Short of digging up all of the soil and sterilizing it in my oven, I’m not sure I’ll ever be totally rid of the goutweed.
Last summer I removed the C. glomerata, and the medusa-like Aegopodium sprouts which kept returning, and filled the space with the ‘Hoffman’s Blue’ Dalmatian bellflower. So far it seems to be working much better. There are a few goutweed leaves now and then, but the Dalmatian bellflower is starting to cover the area. Although the Campanula portenschlagiana does spread, it is better behaved than C. glomerata.
In this picture, the wind is driving the rain into this usually dry area. Even with its flower heads heavy with rain, causing the bells to hang down, Dalmatian bellflower still remains pretty.
The next photo shows this plant the day after the storm. It shrugged off all the rain, turned its face to the sky, and is looking good again. I like a plant that recovers well and always looks fresh.
The flowers of Dalmatian bellflower are particularly attractive, with a long blooming time. The foliage forms short neat mounds. The perennial looks great at the front of the border, or squeezed into small spaces. This might be the origin of its other common name, wall bellflower. The plant tolerates shade very well, while still blooming profusely. It’s also moderately tolerant of dry soil. Campanula portenschlagiana is a choice plant for a variety of conditions.
You can read more about other Campanula (bellflowers) here.
This post has more information about double flowering bellflowers.