Northern Shade Gardening

Campanula Rotundifolia Sweet Little Harebells

Friday, August 7, 2009 Category: Perennials
Campanula rotundifolia (harebell) and carpatica

Campanula rotundifolia (harebell) and carpatica

Campanula rotundifolia (harebells or bluebells of Scotland) are a beautiful bellflower, with a delicate look, but a hardy nature. These hardy perennials return reliably after a cold winter, and show some of the earliest foliage in my spring garden. The flowers are some of the last ones blooming in fall. You can see C. rotundifolia still in flower in the garden after a fall snowstorm in this article.

Campanula rotundifolia (harebell) flower closeup

Campanula rotundifolia (harebell) flower closeup

The multitude of little purple blue bells hanging from the stalks of Campanula rotundifolia are especially pretty. These bellflowers start blooming at the beginning of summer in my garden, and continue well after the first frosts. The harebell flower stalks are very thin, and in the shade they will lean a bit. In a sunnier garden area they are upright. They produce more flowers in a sunny location, but do well in part shade, and I even have some flowering in medium shade.

Campanula rotundifolia (harebell) in shade

Campanula rotundifolia (harebell) in shade

Here are some Campanula rotundifolia in one of the shadier locations. This photo reminds me of how harebells often looks in the wild. They have a looser structure in this lower light, and the flowers are leaning a bit on the yew. The plants have a central cluster of low leaves (basal leaves) that are somewhat rounded with a scalloped edge, while the slender flower stalks have small, long, thin leaves. My plants are about 45 cm (18 in) tall, to the tips of the tallest flowers.

Campanula rotundifolia (harebell) and Heuchera

Campanula rotundifolia (harebell) and Heuchera

Harebells pair up well with many other garden perennials. They look great with other blue and white bellflowers. I have some with a group of white C. carpatica and a group of  blue C. carpatica. I also have some next to some Brunnera, and they weave between the Brunnera and yew. Because the basal foliage is so short, and the flower stalks are so thin, they seem  to fit into whatever space you give them in the garden.

This bellflower is like a taller version of Campanula cochlearifoliaa. Campanula rotundifolia is one of my favourites in the garden, for its hardiness, long bloom time, sweet little bells, and simple beauty.

10 Responses to “Campanula Rotundifolia Sweet Little Harebells” »

  1. MNGarden :
    August 7, 2009 at 9:57 am

    I’m going to try those in my Z6 shade garden.

  2. Northern Shade :
    August 7, 2009 at 10:30 am

    MNGarden, these flowers have a cottage garden look to them, and seem to fit in well with a natural garden style too. They look more informal in the shade, since the flower stalks will lean over on the surrounding plants in the lower light. I especially appreciate the lingering flowers in late fall, when most of my other perennials have gone dormant.

  3. Rebecca :
    August 7, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    How lovely! The Campanulas are such a nice family. :)

  4. Northern Shade :
    August 7, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    Rebecca, yes, I love Campanula in the garden. I like C. rotundifolia, as it is a sweet little wildflower too. I found some of the little blue flowers hiding under the fall leaves in the first week of December last year. It definitely made me feel like I was gardening in a warmer zone.

  5. guild-rez :
    August 8, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    I love the little Campanulas too.
    Very nice flower and easy to take care of.
    – Cheers.

  6. Northern Shade :
    August 8, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    Guild-rez, yes, you have to love plants that not only have such pretty flowers, but don’t require much maintenance. I’ve found them to be very adaptable to a variety of locations too.

  7. Rebecca :
    August 8, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    I was passing by an old hedge today (quite short, but in poor/aged condition) and noticed lovely blue flowers in some parts. At first I thought it was a climbing vine, but upon closer examination it appeared to be this very Campanula (or one extremely similar). It looked lovely, and dressed up the hedge nicely. Might be something I’ll attempt with my hedge one day…:)

  8. Northern Shade :
    August 8, 2009 at 10:54 pm

    Rebecca, I’ve seen Campanula rotundifolia while I’ve been out hiking, and the flowers are a pleasure when you spy them. In the garden, they fit easily between other plants.

  9. Derek Yarnell :
    May 17, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    As a recent subscriber to your blog I was pleased that my Google search on this plant brought me to your site. I am going to go out and buy some of these today!

  10. Northern Shade :
    May 17, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    Derek, They are very hardy and have a beautifully natural look in the garden. They are one of the last flowers still blooming in late fall, which is a fantastic trait in our cold climates. They will spread and naturalize a bit, but always in a good way.

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