Alpine Garden Society

Ulster Group

                Plant of the Month, January 2008
Campanula saxifraga, by Harold McBride

The recently published book “Dwarf Campanulas” (Graham Nicholls) has raised many people’s interest in growing bellflowers.

They have many uses in the garden and quite a few are suitable for trough work or planting in crevice gardens.

Campanula Saxifraga hails from the northern Caucasus where it is found growing at alpine levels in rock crevices or cliffs. I first obtained this plant from a seed collection by Josef Halda over 20 years ago & have found it adopts well to garden culture if given a gritty compost in a raised - bed or a trough.
I also grow two of its close relations who also are to be found in the Caucasus : C. Tridentata and C. Aucheri. Both these plants require similar conditions, with the smaller C. Aucheri very suitable for a crevice garden.

AGS Group members who have visited the Czech Republic where it is a very popular plant will have noted C. Saxifraga growing in almost every garden, although for some  reason it remains scarce in Ulster gardens.

 C. Saxifraga appears regularly on AGS seed lists and is easily catered for, being ready to plant in the open garden in the July or August following spring sowing.

Care must be taken to protect small plants from slug and snail damage as like most members of the bellflower family it seems a favourite fodder for these garden pests and they can devour quite a large plant in a single night.