'Bernice' Nettle-leafed Bellflower; aka:
Campanula trachelium is a Eurasian blue wildflower native from Denmark, England, now also naturalized in southeast Ireland, & found southward through Europe into Africa. It has also naturalized in New England.
'Bernice' is a double-flowered variety that looks like it has a flower inside a flower, making for an unusually frilly bell. It is quite possibly the best & most tastefully beautiful of all campanulas.
Primarily a summer bloomer for June & July, but starts in late April or early May in our mild zone. Deadheading can extend blossom to the brink of autumn.
They want full sun & very well draining soil, but will do fairly well in partial shade. It prefers a poor light soil or clayey soil, & can benefit by a little lime if soils are generally acidic.
It grows strongly upright, with basal leaves toothed & bright green, lending this flower the common name Nettle-leafed or Nettleleaved Bellflower.
The alternate name Throatwort is derived from an old belief that Nettle-leafed campanulas are a cure for soar throat, & the species name trachelium refers to this old belief. There never was an actual medical benefit from the plant, which had no observable effect on the throat. But in past centuries, belief in the occult Doctrine of Signatures was very deeply stamped on superstitioius "believers."
This Doctrine insisted that God placed some clue on every plant to reveal its healing powers. Therefore if it were a red flower, it was good for the blood; if a spotted leaf, it was good for the lungs, & so forth. For Nettle-leafed bellflowers it was said that the flower's "throat" was the "signature" placed upon it by God as proof of its value for throat ailments.
Other folknames include Our Lady's Bells because the color blue was identified with the Virgin Mary's scarf, veil, or shawl; Coventry Bells because C. trachelium was especially common in fields around Coventry; & "Bats-in-the-Belfry" or in the singular "Bat-in-the-Belfry," because the stamens inside the flower were like bats hanging in the bell of a church steeple.
C. medium 'Rose Canterbury Bells'
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