Wildflower Wednesday is a monthly appreciation of wildflowers hosted by Gail of Clay and Limestone on the fourth Wednesday of every month. (Admittedly, as I write this it is actually Tuesday night, but I don’t think I will have time for blogging tomorrow.) This month I want to recognize Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia L.), a bellflower native to North America and an excellent choice for the front of the border in a dry, sunny spot.
Campanula means little bell, and all members of the genus have bell-shaped flowers. According to the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center, the common name is believed to come from an association of this plant with witches, who in certain circles are believed to turn themselves into hares. Look, if you can’t believe Ladybird Johnson, who can you believe? It is definitely not called harebell because hares like to eat it. As far as I have seen, this flower is pretty much left alone by rabbits. (Rabbits are the same as hares, aren’t they?)
Harebell has small but profuse dangling blue flowers from June through September. If blooming stops or the plant gets too untidy, it should be cut back. It may have a second flush of blooms later in fall. Bees like the flowers, and reportedly hummingbirds do as well, though I have never seen this.
This is a plant that is content in dry, thin soils. It also does fine in more fertile soils with medium moisture. Harebell likes full sun, but tolerates some shade.
As noted earlier, this is a good candidate for the front of the border, growing about one foot tall with a bushy habit. Harebell forms a clump, but does not run and I have not noticed any tendency to self-sow. In the right conditions it is a very easy plant.
Consider Harebell as an alternative to the Carpathian bellflower (Campanula carpatica), an excellent plant from Europe but far more common in American gardens.