Early flowering herbaceous perennials

(Author’s Note: Last week’s column, “A Few Flowering Perennials for the June Garden” was devoted to favorite herbaceous perennials that bloom in early to mid-June. The following essay takes a look at the stars of the late June and early July perennial bed in Marjorie’s Garden. Portions of this essay first appeared in THE NEW ENGLAND GARDENER’S YEAR by Reeser Manley and Marjorie Peronto, published this year by Cadent Publishing of Thomaston, Maine.)

Marjorie is in the midst of her own “Big Dig”, an expansion of the island bed where our favorite herbaceous perennials grow. Every so often I get called away from the vegetable garden to help her dislodge a giant boulder uncovered by the digging. The smallest of these huge stones must have a mass of over 100 pounds. At present all of the excavated stones lie in the grass along the edge of the border, a still life of meteors on the outer fringes of a galaxy of flowering plants.

Peach-leaved Bellflower

In early summer, one of the shining stars in this galaxy is the peach-leaved bellflower (Campanula persicifolia), also known as “willow bell”, a three-foot-tall plant with stiff sturdy stems bearing large, outward facing, broad bell-shaped flowers. The flowers open atop erect, unbranched, nearly leafless stems that arise from basal rosettes of narrow, toothed, bright green leaves (4 to 8 inches long). These leaves resemble in shape those of the peach tree, hence both the common name and specific epithet. Within the species, the color of flowers clustered on the upper stems ranges from white to blue; on the plants in Marjorie’s Garden they are a deep lavender-blue.

C. persicifolia is native to Europe and Asia. On both continents it can be found growing in open woods, on shrubby slopes and in mountain meadows. In the northeastern United States, including Vermont, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, as well as in Canada, it has escaped cottage gardens and borders to become naturalized.

Peach-leaved bellflower prefers a well-drained soil in full sun or partial shade. It is generally intolerant of summer heat and does best in USDA Zones 3-7.

Available cultivars of C. persicifolia include ‘Chettle Charm’ with flowers that are creamy white edged with lavender blue and ‘Telham Beauty’ with porcelain blue blossoms.

Bluebell Bellflower

Campanula rotundifolia, the bluebell bellflower, grows to only 15 inches in height. Native to dry, nutrient-poor grasslands in New England and throughout much of the United States, it blooms continuously from late spring through August with violet-blue, bell-shaped flowers in loose clusters on long, thin, graceful stems.

In the garden, bluebell bellflower performs best in sandy, well-drained soils and in sun to partial shade. It is perfect for the pollinator garden where it will attract both hummingbirds and bumblebees.

In order to reach the nectar at the base of the blossom, the bumblebee must crawl into the bell, disappearing except for the tip of its butt. It is not surprising that by the end of the flowering season the entire plant is bent over from the weight of bees.

Mulch, houses & your soil

2004-05-04 09:20:12 by pro

I'm not familiar with cedar or Hemlock mulch since I'm in California so I can't speak to whether one is "nicer" than the other. There is a difference between bark mulch and chipped wood, however. Also, some mulches are more acidic than others if that matters for your soil or particular plants.
It's possible you were warned not to mulch too close to your house because termites might like wood mulch. I don't know of any other reason. Mulch itself doesn't usually attract ants but if the Hemlock has sticky sap they might be attracted to that. UC Davis on controlling ants in your house and garden under control: www

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