It came into our garden with some ‘free’ soil. I didn’t know its name, for sure. It looked an awful lot like ladybells, Adenophora liliifolia? It was a decorative, bonus plant – score!
Little did I know the work that pretty bellflower would create.
Deer ignored it for one season… at the most. After that, they ate the buds before flowering. The deers’ pruning might’ve spurred the plant into a frenzy of suckering. When digging out the extras, I realized how this bellflower got its common name– Creeping Bellflower spreads from the mother plant by lateral roots running below the soil surface.
It quickly became quite a thug. I had to be realistic. A monocultural garden isn’t my thing. Campanula rapunculoides had to go.
One soggy autumn weekend, I dug out the entire bed. Other keeper perennials were set aside to thoroughly wash their root systems before replanting at the end of the project. I discovered creeping bellflower was even more invasive than I first realized. It also has deeper storage roots, enabling survival through brutal winters & long droughts. Those roots can easily sprout a multitude of new plants, even if the original is removed from the base.
Sifting through the soil & removing the invading white roots of the C.rapunculoides, was a tough job but worth it. Many years later, I regularly weed out young plants surfacing from roots that I’d missed, but I’m winning the war.
This summer, I noticed a new patch at the College campus. Can you imagine the tenacity of a plant volunteering in a crack in the pavement? These plants must’ve arrived via seed distribution. Behind some fencing, creeping bellflower is protected from the deer. Fortunately, the grounds staff cut them to the ground in record time.
So, I guess it’s not even safe to keep this bully restrained in a pot because it’ll spread like mad if it ever goes to seed, too.
I’m pretty lenient when it comes to vigorous plants in our garden.. Wild violets grow in our lawn. Cyclamen hederifolium is still welcome in certain beds. I’ve left some patches of bluebell in well-contained spots (but they’re sheered as soon as the blooms begin to fade). Some other tough-as-nails plants are held in check by simply not watering them through our long, summer drought.
But I’m putting my foot down when it comes to Campanula rapunculoides.
Not in my backyard.
My goal is to grow the native harebell, C. rotundifolia, instead. It’s much better behaved.