Blue Gown

'Blue Gown'
Trailing Harebell; or,
Prostrate Serbian Bellflower

The garden's silence: even the single bee
Persisting in his toil, suddenly stopped,
And where he hid you only could surmise
By some campanula chalice set a-swing.
Who stammered -- "Yes, I love you?"

-Robert Browning


'Blue Gown' Serbian Campanula at three to six inches high remains much, much smaller than the species Campanula poscharkyana. We have both the regular species & 'Blue Gown,' & the leaves as well as the height are smaller on 'Blue Gown,' & it seriously gives the impression of being a dwarf.

In autumn it sort of pulls into itself, becoming a tighter clump of miniature leaves in defense against winter. In our zone it is, in this tighter state, entirely evergreen, though in chillier zones it would partially die back.

It flowers June through September or October. The one-inch or smaller thin blue buds open into five-pointed stars that fade to white at the heart, being over all a paler blue than the species.

Serbian bellflowers are notoriously aggressive & do not share ground easily with other small plants. But 'Blue Gown' is so small, it causes no problems to neighboring plants. Indeed, it becomes itself somewhat at risk of being crowded out by overshadowing groundcovers.

Initially we planted a single clump in a morning-sun location very near the house, so far under the eaves that rainfall didn't reach it. The location was a mite harsh, yet the little clump remained pleasantly green & bloomed well. It did not spread, however, & a Serbian bellflower that doesn't spread is a stressed Serbian bellflower.

After a couple years I dug it up & planted it at the foot of a potted slender upright dwarf false cypress. It makes an excellent container plant because of its small size & forgiveness if it isn't watered quite often enough.

The cultivar name 'Blue Gown' alludes to a class of liscensed beggar in Scotland called bluegowns or less vulgarly beidmen or bedesmen. Each year on the King's birthday, alms would be distributed to these paupers, together with a bread roll, a tankard of ale, an unusual leather purse for the alms, & a new woolen cloak with tight sleeves & a hood which had been dyed blue. With these items the bedesmen attended a service in St Giles. The tradition was later upheld in the Canongate Kirk aisle, but in time such care of paupers declined & the bluegown tradition ended.

Tolerant of environmental extremes, it is both drought hardy, & can tolerate dampness, in zones three through eight, but will not adapt to areas with persistently warm nights. It prefers full sun, will get by in partial sun. It will over time spread into quite a wide groundcover, but not invasively.

Continue to
C. poscharskyana 'Camgood' aka 'Blue Waterfall' Serbian bellflower


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