Clustered Bellflower Campanula glomerata
Walking across chalk grassland the bright blue flowers of Clustered Bellflower (Campanula glomerata) can be seen from a distance. It grows to about 30cm high in the wild in Britain. There are a few solitary flowers up the stem which ends in cluster of flowers. With each bell-shaped flower nearly 2cm long and the eye catching colour this is a plant that is hard to miss.
When is the Bellflower in bloom?
The plants are perennial and can be found growing and gradually spreading from the same spot for years. Clustered Bellflower can be seen in bloom from June until October. The flowers are still fairly profuse in September and more appreciated at this time as most plants have set seed and are no longer flowering.
Some members of the Campanula, or Bellflower, family are known as edible plants. There is some documentation of consumption of leaves and flowers of this Clustered Bellflower although experimentation seems to be in early stages.
Various cultivars of Clustered Bellflower are sold for gardens. The plant is often described as tolerant of mowing. In its natural habitat in Britain growing in calcareous grassland plants are occasionally grazed, so have a long history of being cut down and growing back.
Can I plant it in my garden?
In gardens plants can reach heights of 60cm or more. This is over twice as high as their maximum growth height in the wild. The thin layer of soil in calcareous grassland is low in nutrients. The Clustered Bellflower is able to grow in this low nutrient environment, but would not be able to compete with faster growing vegetation in a high nutrient environment such as fertilised grassland. In a garden with a gardener controlling the competition and high soil fertility Clustered Bellflowers can benefit from increased nutrient supply without competition from other plants and grow taller.