Adenophora liliifolia (Lily-Leaved Ladybells)
Ladybells is native to the moist meadows and woodland edges of Central and Eastern Europe to Siberia. Unlike the one pictured below, the Adenophora I have grown for years, these bells are smaller, light blue, and fragrant. These bells appear to be more singular, dangly, like the bells of Campanula rotundifolia. The foliage fooled me in the beginning: it is the basal leaves that are rounded (the ones seen early on), but as the plant produces stems, the leaves take a turn and become lanceolate. The plant is erect, clumping, growing to three feet in sun/part shade and blooming July - August in moist, but well-drained, humus rich soil. Note: This Ladybells spreads slowly by runners and is said movement and/or division are difficult, so when you plant it, get it right the first time. Zones 3-7. (Illustration: Adenophora liliifolia [as Campanula verbenaefolia]- Annales de flore et de pomone- ou journal des jardins et des champs, vol. 6 (1837-1838) and in the public domain).
Adenophora sp. (Ladybells)
I can't imagine my garden without Adenophora, or Ladybells. This lovely perennial was given to me over 20 years ago by my mother-in-law by way of a gardener in Asheville, NC. Unfortunately, I cannot be specific about which Adenophora this one is, as there are quite a few, but I am certain that it is one of the best perennials I have ever grown. This beautiful violet-belled bloomer has grown well for me in sun/partial shade and even full shade, growing from two to four feet tall, which makes it ideal for the back of the perennial border or somewhere in the middle. Ladybells' stems are dotted with lovely violet, trumpet-shaped flowers in mid-summer, and cutting the stems back after the initial blooming will encourage a repeat performance. Some say that a few varieties of Adenophora are rapid spreaders; for me, this one spreads gently, just enough to enable me to move it around my garden. I have found Ladybells to disappear entirely in drought and/or oppressively hot conditions, only to return when normalcy prevails, so a spot with shade is advisable. Sun/part shade, moisture-retentive soil in Zones 3-8. Quarts.