Northern Shade Gardening

Hardiest Flower in the Garden

Monday, November 1, 2010 Category: Perennials

We’ve had a number of frosts down to -7º C (20º F). Far too chilly for most plants, but the perennial that keeps flowering is Campanula rotundifolia (harebells). The pretty blue bells are suspended from thin flower stalks, looking ethereal and graceful. Although they appear too delicate for the weather, they are actually extremely hardy flowers. The snow was thick and heavy before it melted, and I’m surprised they didn’t get flattened like other plants in the garden.

Campanula rotundifolia harebells in snow

Campanula rotundifolia harebells in snow

You can see in the photo above that after the recent snow, I’ve grown slack with my deadheading. However the Campanula rotundifolia continue to bloom, and actually have a fair number of flowers. Perhaps I will be tromping out in my boots this winter, and brushing the snow aside in order to keep deadheading the spent flowers. ;) They are doing their best, and I don’t want to let them down. These hardy perennials have been in bloom since June, with those pretty petals that flare gracefully at the bottom. This link shows how the harebells look in summer.

An honourable mention goes to Helleborus ‘Ivory Prince’ for faking it by keeping the flowers bracts for so long. ‘Ivory Prince’ tried to convince me that you don’t need petals, stamens or a pistil to be considered a flower. I threw in bonus points for it having started flowering last April, but it still came in second place. Campanula portenschlagiana (Dalmation bellflower) is another runner up for hardiest flower, but it doesn’t have as many blooms as in previous years.

Campanula rotundifolia flowering in late fall

Campanula rotundifolia flowering in late fall

There are many foliage plants that still have great looking leaves, but very few perennials want to keep flowering at the end of the season once they’ve been snowed on, and when the temperatures drop so low. I have a lot of respect for Campanula rotundifolia, and its willingness to continue flowering for so long. Now excuse me while I do some deadheading, if my fingers don’t go numb. What is the hardiest flower in your garden?

Campanula rotundifolia harebells closeup

Campanula rotundifolia harebells closeup