This lovely, rare, but sadly neglected British native wild flower, inhabits shady woods and hedge-banks, where it spreads its branched, slender, wiry stems, which bear loose showers of shallow, starry, rose-purple, bell-shaped flowers above clumps of narrow, pointed leaves, its common name having been acquired because the petals splay out. It seeds about but is never a nuisance, and does equally well in almost any soil. When friends see it here they beg for seed – it is so lovely. It is therefore mystifying that this worthy garden plant is so neglected. Plantsman E. A, Bowles admired it and Graham Rice has written about it in “Hardy Perennials”.
Seeds can be sown at any time but are best sown in winter or early spring to benefit from a cold spell in the wet compost to break their dormancy. We advise covering seeds very thinly with sand or fine grit to about the depth of the seed size. If the seeds do not come up within 6 to 12 weeks the damp seed tray can be given cold treatment in a fridge for about four weeks. They may still take very many months to appear, so please never discard the pot or tray.
Common name:Spreading Bellflower
Classification:Hardy perennial, Hardy biennial