This is surely one of the most celebrated of all the European alpine campanulas. Popularly known as the “Crimped bellflower”, it is native to the Eastern Alps and can be found in Austria, N. Italy and Slovenia. It is highly revered in its native Slovenia and was first discovered here, by botanist Karl von Zois (1756 – 1800) and described by Dutch botanist Jacquin.
Although I have encountered this amazing species in nature, I have not seen it at its flowering best. Another day! It chooses rock fissures and is quite happy in sunny exposure as well as shade but always on its favoured limestone. If you are fortunate you may well find it at lower altitude as large boulders erode away from higher levels and plants become established, most likely from seed dispersal. This was my experience when botanising the Vrata valley, below Mt. Triglav. I yearn to visit its Locus Classicus in the Kamnik Alps and see if I can time it right, towards the end of July and into August to capture it at its flowering best spilling out of its beloved crevices. The crimped, bottle-shaped flowers vary in shades of blue and to catch the timing to perfection would be a wonderful experience.
It is a great relief that this curious species is available in the nursery trade and is not too challenging to grow. There are, however, two main causes of death over which great care must be taken. The first is the threat of slugs. I have experienced a tray of seedlings completely destroyed by slug damage. Steps must be taken to combat them in order to prevent disappointment. The second concern is a common problem with certain alpine species when excessive flowering takes place on young plants. Once plants have become well-established in a crevice between pieces of tufa/limestone or in a gritty mixture on a trough, this danger may have passed. I am still nervous at the time of flowering and will disbud or dead-head in the first season of flowering. I have found that seed-raised plants can be stronger than those propagated from cuttings, but if you wish to preserve a particular cultivar or a good colour form, the latter method should be employed.
It is possible to select attractive colour variants and one to look out for, is the pale blue-flowered cultivar raised by Brian Burrow, Campanula zoysii ‘Lismore Ice’.
The following nursery can be contacted to check on current availability:
Aberconwy Nursery tel. 01492 580875