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Articles: Bellflowers

Softly speckled pink bells on Korean bellflower (Campanula takesimana). Photo: courtesy of Annie’s Annuals

Bellflowers are so familiar that there is a tendency to think we know this enduring garden denizen. Campanulas have wormed their way into our gardening hearts and made themselves at home here on the West Coast—but where did they come from? The answer to this question may surprise you.

The recurved pink bells of the unusual Azores bellflower (Azornina vidalii syn. Campanula vidalii). Photo: courtesy of Annie’s Annuals

The genus Campanula contains an astonishing 500 species, making it one of the most diverse genera in mass production. Although the common name, bellflower, suggests tubular flowers, the size and shape of the blooms—as well as those species whose flowers in no way resemble a bell—gives some idea of the diversity of the genus. Those with a passing familiarity of campanulas know that many species hail from Europe—which is true, but too simplistic. They are found in high alpine meadows as well as in lowlands, and ma...


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