The bellflower bee
Amateur Gardening|September 12, 2020
The bellflower bee
Val looks at a tiny black bee that relies on bellflowers
Val Bourne

I LOVE bellflowers and I really enjoy growing Campanula lactiflora ‘Prichard’s Variety’ for its rich-blue flowers. It begins to flower just after the roses and, if you cut the old flowers off, it produces another lot. It can give six weeks of flower, if deadheaded regularly, and fills the gap between the first flush of roses and the second.

‘Prichard’s Variety’ was raised by Maurice Prichard of Riverslea Nursery, which used to be in Christchurch, Hampshire. I’ve grown this plant for 50 years in various gardens, but it’s been around for longer. It has a mop of rich blue flowers on a 3ft (1m)-high plant, and it’s something I wouldn’t be without.

We also grow a tall biennial called C. trachelium in the garden. Commonly known as the nettle-leaved bellflower, this bears largish bells on one stem in various shades of blue. Our third is the delicate harebell, C. rotundifolia, with its 1ft (30cm)-high trembling stems of tiny grey-blue bells. This lover of warmth and sandy soil grows in our stone paving and on nearby limestone slopes.

The bellflowers I’ve mentioned are all British natives. There are five native species of campanula in Britain and four of them are garden-worthy plants.


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September 12, 2020