Welcome To
Bluebell Bulbs

Useful Info And History For The Home Gardener



NON-NATIVE PERENNIALS

IRISES

With a symbolic name referencing an Egyptian deity, known to represent the rainbow (perhaps a result of the striking colour diversity of their blooms) these plants are found worldwide in numerous variations and hybrids. Their auspicious growing conditions differ as well, as they are quite versatile and have adapted in many parts of the world. As general traits however, they tend to prefer humid environments, which is why they can be found in the wild on riversides or stream banks .They can also be grown in marshy areas and other types of drenched patches of vegetation. Two species alone are native to Britain and are more prominent on its offshore territories, such as the British Isles – nonetheless, a significant number of exotic irises can be successfully naturalised and make excellent features in gardens. Irises grow optimally in open spaces, where they are not stifled by competition and can spread unhindered, and implicitly, should enjoy full sunlight exposure. However, most have adapted to partial shade as well.

Variegated Flag Iris – Iris pseudacorus variegata

Origin: Japan

Flowering: June, July, August

A distinctive variety of Flag Iris, this species prides itself in its foliage, each leaf displaying a single straw-coloured stripe. Akin to most irises, it grows at its best when surrounded by moisture. This perennial species is also fragrant, which is another reason to naturalise it in your garden. Its yellow flowers bloom throughout the summer season.

Mixed Iris - Iris laevigata

Origin: Japan

Flowering: June, July

This variety, originating from Japan, can grow with homogenously coloured corollas, either white or both, or a bi-coloured mixture which is quite interesting to look at. Its most propitious conditions are based on a high level of humidity and it develops well in water-saturated environments such as marshlands. It blooms during the summer season.

Iris versicolor

Origin: North America

Flowering: May, June, July

Resembling Iris levigata in appearance and behaviour, this species is originally from North America yet has successfully adapted to different types of wetlands in many parts of Europe and elsewhere. Its corollas are made up of delicate purple petals. It is also a good choice in wetter environments across Britain.

Iris sibirica

Origin: Central Europe, Asia

Flowering: May, June

This species was introduced to Britain centuries ago and has proved a viable choice for many growers. Originally found in the central region of the European continent and parts of Asia, it flowers early in the summer season, producing beautiful blue-purple blooms surrounded by dainty narrow foliage. Although it is an adaptable variety and can tolerated a range of conditions, it should be planted in full sun and always provided with a high level of moisture, as it grows at its best in retentive soils.

Iris sibirica White Swirl

Origin: Hybrid

Flowering: May, June

Among the most appreciated for its appearance, this Iris sibirica hybrid produces soft corollas of pure white with a striking golden yellow centre. The contrast creates a beautiful sight, particularly when planted in large numbers. This species can grow in a reasonably fertile soil, from normal to somewhat acidic, and can reach a maximum height of one metre.

Iris sibirica Dreaming Yellow

Origin: Hybrid

Flowering: May, June

Suggestively named to indicate the colour of its corolla, it generates soft, creamy yellow blooms in summer. With deep green foliage, it grows well in full sun or partial shade, in a soil which can range from a normal to a clay-rich or sandy one. It makes an ideal feature in a damp border or in near bodies of water.

Iris sibirica Silver Edge

Origin: Hybrid

Flowering: May, June

Definitely a striking and unusual species in terms of appearance, it grows intense blue flowers adorned by a distinctive silver margin, which also gives it its name. It is also more accepting of alkaline and acidic soils, besides normal ones.

Iris ensata (Kaempferi)

Origin: Japan

Flowering: May, June, July

Also enjoying humid soils and full sunlight exposure, this species is very popular in Japan and has produced many cross breeds over there, of various colours ranging from shades of blue to pink, pastels and white. It is very well loved and grown intensely in all variations. To naturalise it in Britain, you should plant it in an open, moist patch of soil, mimicking its natural environment to the highest extent in order to permit it to flourish. Also, it’s not keen on lime, therefore the soil you plant it in should be lime free.

Iris latifolia

Origin: The Pyrenees, North-western Spain

Flowering: June, July

Blooming in the middle of summer, it can produce blue dainty corollas of blue or white flowers. This species seems to do particularly well in meadow conditions and is sometimes referred to as the ‘’English Iris’’, although erroneously since it did not originate in England. It reaches up to half a metre in height, whilst its foliage is slightly longer, measuring approximately 60 cm.

BOG PRIMULAS

As their name suggests, these species require a fair amount of moisture in their environment and will develop well on river or stream banks, as well as other types of damp or waterlogged environments. Moreover, they grow at their best in rich organic soils and seed freely, establishing with relative ease if allowed.

Primula bulleyana

Origin: Yunnan, China

Flowering: May, June

This variety was introduced to Britain from China, by the reputable horticulturist George Forrest, and is known to be cultivated successfully in our climate. It originates from a mountainous region and is therefore resilient to unfriendly weather. Its blooms, arranged in the shape of candelabrum, are of an energising orange. Also, it spreads by itself, through seeding.

Primula pulverulenta

Origin: Central China

Flowering: May, June

With its intense crimson corollas, this classy plant blooming at the beginning of the summer season also resembles a candelabrum in appearance, through the elegant way it bears its blooms. It grows optimally in full sun, although it can tolerate a reasonable amount of shade as well. Overtime, it has naturally crossed with Primula bulleyana, producing many delightful hybrids.

Primula florindae

Origin: The Himalayas

Flowering: June, July

Ideal for planting in moist or waterlogged areas, this plant originates from a harsh environment and is therefore very sturdy, which implicitly means that the British climate doesn’t pose any difficulties to its development. It produces small yellow blooms arranged in clusters, emanating a distinctive, pungent fragrance.

Primula poissonii

Origin: South-west China

Flowering: June, July

Colourful and always noticeable, this Candelabra species produces bicoloured blooms of violet petals and a bright yellow centre. It flowers in mid summer season, its corollas looking lively for weeks on end. On average, its firm stems reach 45 centimetres in height, nearly half a metre.

Japanese Primrose - Primula japonica

Origin: Japan

Flowering: May, June

Another species of Candelabra Primulas, it flowers earlier than the rest and can produce blooms of various colours, from pink to bright red. Akin to similar species, it grows well in damp soils and even waterlogged areas. It is also useful towards attracting bees and other insects.

North American Plants

The species below are all perennials and have proved enhanced adaptability to the British climate, being excellent for planting in woodland or meadow conditions, as well as marshlands. Many grow distinctively tall, thus constituting unique landscaping features where suitable.

Giant Rhubarb - Gunnera manicata

Origin: Serra do Mar Mountains,Brazil

A water-loving plant, it grows optimally in moist soils and it suits pond sides, river and stream banks. Known as Giant Rhubarb for good reason, it is an amazingly large species of rhubarb, a single plant being able to cover an area of 10 by 10 feet, probably one of the largest ornamental plants in existence. Also, is generally sturdy yet still sensitive to some climatic factors such as frost.

Dwarf Rhubarb - Gunnera magellenica

Origin: Chile

Similar to Gunnera manicata, it differentiates itself through its miniature size and distinctive fan-shaped foliage, adorned with blooms resembling those of strawberries. It is often planted as a ground covering plant and spreads easily in auspicious areas. It grows well in acidic to alkaline soils, preferably in the shade, and needs frequent irrigation.

Yellow Bog ArumLysichiton americanum

Origin: Western North America

Flowering: March, April

Ideally grown in swampland, this plant thrives in full sunlight exposure yet also grows well in the shade. Blossoming in spring, it produces bright yellow flowers surrounded by rich, sizeable foliage, which remains looking fresh and silky for many months. The only downside to growing it is the temporary smell it spreads, which is fairly strong and unpleasant, but does however dissipate, leaving charming flowers to take delight in.

Filipendula rubra Venusta

Origin: North America

Flowering: June, July

A very popular plant referred to as ‘’Queen of the Prairies’’ in North America, it boasts bright pink flowers surrounded by dark green leaves, blooming in full summer season. One of its most remarkable features is its impressive height, which can reach up to 5 feet. As it is a Meadowsweet variety, it thrives in wet conditions and grows well when planted in full sun.

Rodgersia podophylla

Origin: Japan, Korea

Flowering: April – September

This species originates from Asia and finds a welcoming natural backdrop in damp forests across Britain. Although it doesn’t bloom until summer, when it produces vertical pink flowers, its aesthetic value shows as early as April, when its peculiar palmate foliage develops, of a striking bronze which suffers a chromatic transformation overtime, becoming green.

Hardy Lobelias

These striking varieties, which bloom during the summer or autumn season, are easily recognisable due to their height, which normally ranges between two and three feet. As a particularity, these plants are poisonous, yet if handled with care that should not be an impediment to growing them.

Lobelia siphilitica

Origin: North America

Flowering: September, October

With distinctive creased foliage and spikes of deep blue flowers, this is a late flowerer as it blooms in autumn, its blossoms lasting for a few weeks. It is fond of humid environments which resemble its native one, and is excellent for planting beside water courses or ponds. It is very resilient to nature’s challenges and needs to be replanted periodically, every few years.

Lobelia siphilitica alba

Origin: North America

Flowering: September, OctoberThe white variation of Lobelia siphilitica, it is equally resistant to unfriendly weather. This species also should be planted in the vicinity of a water feature and makes a delightful sight besides ponds. It prefers to grow in full sun, yet can accept light or dappled shade as well.

Vedrariensis - Lobelia x gerardii

Origin: North America

Flowering: July, August

A vigorous hybrid resulted from the crossing of Lobelia cardinalis and Lobelia siphilitica, it produces beautiful red flowers during the autumn season, as well as rich, smooth textured foliage. In its native region it can be spotted growing freely in the wild, but has successfully naturalised here as well, growing excellently in full sun to partial shade conditions.

Lobelia Pink Flamingo

Origin: North America

Flowering: July, August

Also a hybrid, this plant has been grown in Britain for quite some time and is appreciated for its robustness, making it an ideal choice for professional or amateur growers. It generates dainty pink blossoms and enjoys full sunlight exposure. It accepts a few types of soil, including acidic and alkaline.

Lobelia Fan Deep Red

Origin: North America

Flowering: July, August

Having adapted well to Britain and Wales in particular, this species grows in a slightly distinct manner, producing spiking, divided blooms of cherry petals. Growing well in sandy and loamy soils, it reaches a height ranging between 12 and 24 inches. It is also valued for its rich, highly aesthetical foliage.

Cardinal Flower - Lobelia Fan Scarlet

Origin: North America

Flowering: July, August

Blooming in late summer, it adorns gardens with striking burgundy flowers. Known for its sturdy, well-branched and uniform structure, It is a perfect border feature and also attracts hummingbirds. In terms of requirements, it resembles other species yet is more resistant to weather conditions as well as more adaptable to different environments.

Chelones

These captivating species are bound to attract attention with through the outlandish shape of their blooms, which some say is reminiscent of a turtle, hence their name, which is a reference to that resemblance. Their most auspicious environment includes a high level of moisture, making river and stream sides, as well as damp woods, suitable places to establish them. They flower in autumn and reach a striking height of three feet on average.

White Turtlehead - Chelone glabra

Origin: Eastern North America

Flowering: August, September

Also referred to as the White Turtlehead, it boasts conspicuous seed pods and an abundance of intense green foliage. Its pure white blooms are impressive in size and it is also known for attracting certain insect species such as beetles and butterflies.

Pink Turtlehead - Chelone lyonii

Origin: Eastern North America

Flowering: August, September

With lovely flowers of a soothing shade of pink, this species is also appreciated for its dense foliage. Thriving in partial shade, this plant should be planted in a moist or wet soil, preferably rich in humus. It reaches 2-3 feet in height and spreads up to 1 metre in width.