Dwarf Campanulas, by Graham Nicholls, is an excellent reference book if you are a Bellflower fan, or would like to know more about them. The book is focussed on the smaller Campanula, which are discussed in comprehensive detail. At 272 pages, there is a wealth of information about the petite bellflowers which are suitable for the front of the border, rock garden or trough.
There are coloured photos of many of the species to help you choose your favourite Campanula, or aid in identification. The familiar bell shaped blossoms are gorgeous. Every variation on the bell shape, from overlapping doubles to open starry petals is evident. Some of the pictures show the bellflowers in gardens or pots, while others show them in their native habitat. Both are helpful for seeing the type of conditions suitable for growing each species.
At the beginning of the book, there is an overview of the world regions where many of the bellflowers originate, which includes maps. The photos of mountain ranges, with bellflowers emerging from the crevices in rocks, or growing in scree, illustrate why many are suitable for the rock garden or trough. Many other Campanula species adapt well to the average border.
The detailed look at the propagation of Campanula is very helpful. In this section, the specifics of increasing your bellflowers by seed, cuttings, or division are discussed, along with recommendations for appropriate planting mixtures.
Each species of Campanula then gets its own section, many with photos. There are excellent descriptions of the plants. Cultivars and hybrids are discussed too. Some other genus, that are closely related to Campanula are covered also. Many specific tips are given for the culture of each type of bellflower, as well as the best propagating methods for each one.
The author gives the location from where each species originates, and often who introduced it. I enjoy knowing a plant’s origins, and picturing it in its native habitat. It is fascinating to read the history of the hybrids, or learn in which garden they were first noticed. I appreciate the historical connection to previous gardeners and plant explorers.
It is always a pleasure to read a book written by an expert on a topic who communicates their enthusiasm. I highly recommend this book as an enjoyable read, and useful reference. It is also satisfying to flip through a book full of lovely pictures of blue, purple and occasionally white or pink bellflowers. Although many of these plants are not yet widely available, you are sure to find more perennials to add to your plant wish list.
Here are some of my previous posts on Campanula that I grow in the garden. This is one on Campanula haylodgensis, a double flowering bellflower. This post has a variety of Campanula. Here are some photos of Campanula glomerata, clustered bellflowers. These are Campanula portenschlagiana, the Dalmatian bellflower. The photogenic bellflowers manage to peek their flowers into many of my other posts and photos as well.
Do you grow any Campanula? Which are your favourites, or which have you been wanting to add to your garden?