Goldleaf Adriatic Campanula;
or, Gargano Bellflower
"Among the geranium, a rash
of purple campanula begins,
scattering like Chinese fireworks."
-Luisa A. Igloria
'Dickson's Gold' is a cultivar of the Adriatic bellflower (Campanula garganica, formerly C. elantines var. garganica), a native of southern Italy & Greece. The species was first described in 1827 when it was found growing at the foot of Italy's Mount Gargano.
The small round or heart-shaped serrated delicate-looking leaves of 'Dickson's Gold' are bright golden in full sun, lime-green in shade. Shorter than the species, 'Dickson's Gold' forms a dense four to six inch tall mat that doesn't let weeds get established. It's a gorgeous groundcover even when not in flower, as can be seen in the first photo, in March.
For a garden that found the similar Serbian bellflowers C. poscharskyana too aggressive, C. garganica would be a much more well-behaved alternative.
But 'Dickson's Gold' has one fault in that it goes a bit far in the opposite direction away from aggressiveness, & is easily crowded out by bigger spreading perennials. It simply doesn't want to be overshadowed by larger plants.
Despite its southern Mediterranean origin, it loves temperate gardens just so long as it gets plenty of sunlight. It is somewhat drought-tolerant though medium moisture is best. It cannot abide poorly draining soil, & is at some risk of rotting out in wet winters. Ours is growing atop a stone wall with very sharp drainage, so it should be fine even in the winter.
Pale blue star-shaped flowers appear in vast numbers in very late May, all of June, lasting into part of July; they're just getting started in the second photo from the tail-end of May. When it is done flowering it can benefit by a light sheering to keep it tidy, & to induce rebloom as late as August.
Clumps can be divided every few years, in spring or autumn. 'Dickson's Gold' will also grow true from seed. The mild leaves & flowers are edible in salads, or stir-fried, or in a stew.
C. medium 'White Cup & Saucer' Canterbury Bells
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