Campanula portenschlagiana ‘Hoffman’s Blue’ (dalmatian bellflower) makes a great groundcover, with a thick carpet of gorgeous purple flowers. I planted these in a narrow space between my house and a sidewalk. The area is a little dry under the eaves and shaded between the houses, but they thrive there.
Campanula portenschlagiana is hardy and easy care. I have a 12 m (39 ft) row of these, and they all survived the winter. Incredibly, a couple of these plants kept a few of their colourful flowers under the snow. There they were in April, when the snow melted. They weren’t as perky after being buried in the snow. They were soggy and wilted, but they were still violet. These and the C. rotundifolia are the only plants I’ve had do that.
The foliage on this plant is long lasting too. In fall, as other plants give in to the frost, Campanula portenschlagiana continues with perfectly green leaves. In earliest spring, many of these leaves are still intact, giving an early boost of green.
I’ve read that these can spread more in other zones, but I’ve had no problem with them. They haven’t seeded into the lawn, nor have they tried to send runners down the cracks of the sidewalk. I’m not sure if this is because ‘Hoffman’s Blue’ is better behaved than the species or not. Perhaps the location I have them in, or my zone keeps them well behaved.
The flowers of these dalmatian bellflowers are upward facing bells, which makes it easy to view and admire them. The petals flare out and curl back slightly, a very attractive shape. ‘Hoffman’s Blue’ are a bluish violet colour, the exact shade changing with the angle and intensity of the sun. The plants are completely covered in the blooms, even in this area that only gets a couple hours of sun.
Not only do I find these dalmatian bellflowers attractive, but the bees find them irresistible too. You can play ‘Where’s Buzzy’ with the photos, as many have them have a fuzzy little black and yellow rear end sticking out of a flower. There is always a faint hum as I walk down this sidewalk. I like to stop and watch the bees bury their heads in the flowers, as their back ends wiggle around. It always makes me smile.
The Campanula portenschlagiana ‘Hoffman’s Blue’ can grow in some less than ideal conditions, and still produce these gorgeous blooms. There are more photos and information about this Campanula on a follow up post.