And the drought continues. Last year, it seemed to rain every other day but not this year. This is the driest summer I can remember in quite a while. As I mentioned last time, what we need this year are really tough, drought tolerant plants and Campanula punctata happens to be one of those. Although it has been characterized as rambunctious, that’s not all bad.
Rambunctious perennials get a bad name when they are planted in the wrong place, i.e. in a perennial garden where they take over. However, in a site where you want full coverage to deter weeds or a site where other perennials do not survive, such as sunny dry or shady dry, you might want a rhizomatous perennial.
One of my favorites is Campanula punctata and I highly recommend that you give one of the cultivars (not the species) a try. It will survive beautifully in dry shade or sun and spread slowly there. If you plant it in moist soil and more sun, it will probably run further than you want.
Being a purple lover, the two cultivars I use the most are ‘Purple Sensation’ (14’16”) and ‘Sarastro’ (18-20”). Each stem of ‘Purple Sensation’ has a cluster of very dark purple buds that open to long (3”) purple bells, blooms all summer, and attracts butterflies and other pollinators.
‘Sarastro’ is similar and a hybrid of Campanula punctata and Campanula trachelium although the drooping bells are only 2” long. Technically it is a clumper, but the bushy clumps can spread as much as two feet. ‘Sarastro’ was the most highly rated Campanula in the Chicago Botanic Garden trial that were reported in 2014. Because mine is planted in a very shady location, it leans toward the sun and falls over. I never remember to cut it back before it blooms in order to shorten it.
Cutting back after bloom will encourage rebloom. The foliage is heavily veined and dark green. Although none of the internet sites say that the leaves are evergreen, I can attest that they have been in my garden.
Both are hardy to zone 4. They are cited as being rabbit resistant and mine have also been deer resistant.
I have had a similar but pink bellflower in my garden for many years. It is Campanula takesimana ‘Elizabeth’. It is more aggressive that either of the bellflowers (it also gets more moisture) above but still welcome. The rose trumpet-like bells appear on arching stems. This Campanula is only hardy to zone 5.
An added bonus is that these bellflowers are never browsed by deer or rabbits.
Sadly, there are no Cleveland area nurseries that grow these perennials so I have had to resort to purchasing them online. I do, however, have one out-of-state wholesale source for ‘Sarastro’ and could purchase it for you.