Cup & Saucer

Blue Cup & Saucer
Canterbury Bells

"Bells that ring from ancient towers
Give their name to summer flowers,"

-Cicely Mary Barker


Though this color of Campanula medium var calycanthema is the Blue Cup & Saucer Canterbury Bells, to me it looks closer to a deep dark violet. It was planted together with "White" & the "Lilac Blue" Cup & Saucers against a picket fence where it was possible to avoid having to stake them. The flower stems are so big & heavy they all but invariably fall over if not braced.

I tend to avoid tippy perennials, but this biennial campanula was just too gorgeously cool to pass up. Each bellflower along the stem is considerably larger than the already large blooms on regular Canterbury Bells, plus there are broad calyxes under the "cup" that are the same color as the cup, & these calyxes form a "saucer," hence the name "Cup & Saucer" campanula.

These old-fashioned biennials do not live long in the garden. I have managed to keep the occasional normal Caterbury Bells alive an extra year, or induce rebloom right up to winter; but the Cup & Saucer versions are finished blooming by autumn & soon die to the ground. Although they might self-seed if not deadheaded, they do not do so reliably; seedlings generally need to be started indoors.

Along the same fence-line we have longer-lived penstemons & other species of campanulas that are more strongly perennial, but where the biennials die away after a couple of years it is possible to have a changing choice of flowery things suitable for bouquet cuttings.

These were great to have in 2003 but I have remained undecided whether to plant them again. I am more seriously enamored of clumping perennials that persist for many years.

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C. trachelium 'Bernice' Double Blue Throatwort


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