Tag Archives: blue flowered perennials

Plant Collector – campanula

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I was given this campanula some years ago and if I ever had a cultivar name for it, I have long since lost it. But is it not pretty? I am particularly fond of blue flowers so this one, combined with pastel roses, has been delighting me. Looking on line, it may be Campanula La Belle but there are quite a few double selections available so it may not be. The flower spikes in late spring to early summer stand maybe 60cm high and don’t need staking. For the rest of the time, it just forms a neat plant, low to the ground with longish, narrow pointed leaves lying nearly flat. I will have only been given one plant but lifting and dividing it from time to time has now given me enough to cover a good area.

There are many different campanulas though I had no idea how many until I looked up the plant family. Some 500 different species count as quite a few, especially when one adds in subspecies, variants and hybrids. We have a charming one that grows in flat mats in the rockery and various different ones in other locations, including the form that is commonly known as Canterbury Bells. Some are annuals, some biennial (in other words they flower in the second year, set seed and die) and some are fully perennial. They are northern hemisphere plants spread across a huge range of conditions from alpine to subtropical. Blue is the most common colour, often with a lilac tinge, but there are pink or white options as well. In the wild, the vast majority will flower single. Double forms such as mine will have been selected out as unusual.

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.

Plant collector: Eryngium planum

The hazy blue of Eryngium planum

The hazy blue of Eryngium planum

I thought it was going to be easy to write up eryngiums but it transpires that there are a whole lot of different ones from various habitats and climates. So I will confine my comments to the ones we are growing here. I love these ethereal thistle or teasel-like flowers in the prettiest hazy blue. We have had what I think is Eryngium variifolium in the rockery for a number of years. Despite its decidedly prickly habit and its location too close to the path, the flowers are always a summer delight. When I tried to move it back from the path, I found it had a phenomenally long and tough tap root so it defied my plans. That one has never set seed for us. Some eryngiums are propagated by autumn root cuttings so we plan to try that.

Eryngium planum is taller so needs staking in the garden. It flowers earlier in the season and grows easily from seed. We ordered it through Kings Seeds and this is the first summer we have had a good sized planting of it. I am hoping it will set seed because I think I can use lots of this plant in the summer garden. It doesn’t take up much space so can grow through other plants and the flowers last a long time. Both forms we have are perennials. E. variifolium disappears entirely in winter but neither of us can remember whether E. planum does too or whether it retains a smaller rosette of visible leaves.

Eryngiums belong to the Apiaceae family (with carrots!) not the thistle family. They are often referred to as sea holly but that should more correctly be ascribed to E. maritimum which we have seen growing wild on the coast of Cornwall.

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.