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Bladder Campions

Guest Author - Hellie T.

This is an old English favourite. It is a native perennial that grows wild in grassland and much loved by butterflies and moths.
It has waxy grey/green leaves and the delicate fragrant white bell-like flowers from May to September have an old fashioned air about them.

It is also called Cow Bells, Fat Bellies or Rattleweed. In Northern England it was called White Riding Hood and surprisingly in the southern counties of England it was called Thunderbolt. Legend had it, that if you picked the flowers in June or July a storm would surely follow and if you were out in the storm then disaster would strike!


Where to grow

Bladder campions create a soft delicate look and do not need to be swamped by other plants.
They will do well on a grassy bank or at the edge of unmown lawn.
Also try using them as edging to paths or in front of dark green evergreen shrubs. If you have an uncut area for instance beside a bird bath or bird feeder then they will look good growing amongst the longer grasses.

Bladder campions self seeds readily but is not invasive. I have found it growing in my garden in a sunny spot by the compost heap and amongst my rockery plants where the soil is very poor and full of builder’s rubble and have just left it to mind its own business.


How to grow

Bladder campions are easy to grow if you give them the right conditions.
In your garden they will prefer a well drained dry, sunny spot.

They also prefer soil that is neutral to alkaline to do well. One thing they do not like being in the shade or having the soil around their roots too wet – so be warned!

Although you can plant the seeds yourself the best way to plant Bladder Campion is buy some in pots and plant out where you want it to grow in early spring. This gives them a really good chance of survival against any competing weeds or flowers.(Also check whether any of your friends might have a clump you could have a piece of!)

You can cut it back in early summer if it is starting to look a bit jaded and it will usually reward you with another flush of flowers in September.
It is hardy to zone 6.

You can cut it back in the fall or just leave it as it will being a perennial it will die down in the winter
It grows up to 3 ft (92 cm) in height.

It is often one the the plants that come in packets of seeds marked native English perennials.

Enjoy your garden!


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A selection of white flowering perennials.
Herbs and Wildflowers for an English Garden
Tall perennials for an English Garden
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Content copyright © 2014 by Hellie T.. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Hellie T.. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Carol Chernega for details.

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