Monday, June 14, 2010

Introducing into the Garden: Campanula

Now that the DC trip stuff is over, let's get onto the juicy plant-y stuff, newest additions!

While at my in-law's house, my equally plant daffy mother-in-law showed me around her garden (this is tradition, if you go to any of the women's houses in this family, you give an obligatory garden tour).  Mostly the tour was for, "see anything you like? Let's dig it up for you!" (Man, I wish all garden tours were like that)

One thing that caught my eye in her garden was this knee high plant with somewhat rangy looking toothed leaves but cute long, blue-purple colored bell shaped flowers.  Being a sucker for bell shaped flowers (lilies of the valley, daffodils... sort of bell shape? and the like) I asked about it, and for a while she had one of those gardener moments all of us hate, where we just forget the name and it's on the tip our our tongue and it's driving us mad that we can't rustle up that darn name.  So she starts vocalizing various sounds "Capa... cupa...Gah, isn't it terrible that I don't remember?!" and then it clicks in me what it might be, a plant that I've seen in catalog only, and had caught my interest there too. "Campanula?" I ask hesitantly, "Yes! That's it!" she says (and I do a mental air fist pump to myself at my success... it feels good to be able to identify stuff).

(leaf closest to flower is oregano, not the campanula's)

This was a very unusual campanula to me, most I've seen are very blue and very balloon-like when in bud and then open and star-like in its petals.  Though the ones in the catalog are quite charming I found that I liked this one much more than the catalog versions.  We slated this campanula as a "do dig for Persephone" plant and though I usually like to stick to edibles (as I often say) I'm getting the "flowers for the soul" thing more and more,  especially as I can get tired of having to tend to my edibles all the time fretting about "will I be able to eat fresh veggies this summer if the bugs/weather/stupidity kills them?"  Some regular ol' landscaping for prettiness can be easy on the eye especially when I care a lot less about their death if they go, and when they're easy to take of and perennial.  Gotta love them perennials.

I forgot to ask my mom-in-law as to what variety this patch of campanula's name is before I left, so I did some research and for a while thought it was the Scottish harebell (Campanula rotundifolia) variety, but upon closer inspection it appears very much not the case...

Google image search to the rescue!

I didn't think I'd have a chance at finding it, but after some searching I suspect that it's either Campanula takesimana or Campanula punctata.  If anyone has a good eye and can tell the difference between either an my pics and would like to point it out to me that'd be great.  I'm leaning a little more towards the C. punctata because the bells are not so flared open at the edges as much as the other, but still uncertain.

My mother-in-law warned me that it was sort of invasive.  "Excellent," I said and did a little Mr. Burns-esque finger tip waggle action.  I should really stop with those "potentially invasive" plants I know, but space, must be filled! But it reminds me... mint anyone?

(I love how hairy it is.  You know me and my love for hirsute-rific plants, hairy+bell shaped flowers=I'm there!)

For this campanula, leaning towards C. punctata it should get no taller than 2 feet tall, blooms late spring/early summer and is hardy from 4a-9b.  Should be planted in sun to partial shade, but my MIL had it on the east side of her house where it was running around rampantly, and east side's where mine is too.  I hear that it likes it relatively moist and I've been heartily dousing it in my 90+ F degree weather  while it gets established.  My bed drains relatively well though and it seems fine there for the week it's been chilling.