Beware the Bellflower: It Tells Beautiful Lies

Beautiful lies are like lovely bellflowers and we have to remain vigilant. As Tucker Max once said, “The devil doesn’t come dressed in a red cape and pointy horns. He comes as everything you’ve ever wished for.” I’ve been wishing for attractive flowers to flourish in my garden’s clay soil and to survive Alberta’s winters which can be as cold as -40C. Be careful what you wish for. You may get a beautiful lie, then you’ll have to weed it out.

In my flower bed were some very pretty wildflowers. Reluctantly, I had to pull them out.  If I hadn’t, I could have been fined $250. It could have been worse. In this area, anyone with a property with a serious infestation could be fined up to $5,000!

Creeping Bellflower is considered a noxious weed in Alberta. It is not native to the area or even to the continent but was brought over from Europe as an ornamental flower.  I wonder how that happened.  Did settlers pack some seeds in their cabin trunks?  Did visitors smuggle them in in the heels of their shoes?  Did Canadian landscapers order them from English garden centers and buy them in bulk?

2t2vAnh2R5OANzUmj8HCZAI remember seeing bellflowers in grassy areas in England when I was a girl, and I didn’t think anything of it. They were just pretty wildflowers; abundant but benign. How did something so seemingly harmless become a noxious weed to the point where bylaw officers patrol our neighbourhoods and issue citations to owners of infested yards? Well, it’s a zombie weed, according to Salisbury Greenhouse. It has roots that go down eight inches, so it isn’t easy to pull up, and you can’t even kill it with 2,4-D which was part of Agent Orange that defoliated Vietnam

This plant is so invasive it would probably survive a nuclear Armageddon.  A CBC article explains that “The bellflower thrives in dry or wet soils, either in full sun or full shade.  It can lay dormant for years and, if there are no insects to pollinate the plant, it will pollinate itself.” So, it can grow anywhere, in any conditions, and reproduce itself.  Someone should make a horror movie about that.

Creeping BellflowerReally. Think about it.  The film could be a sort of horticultural version of The Birds, with increasing degrees of panic as the plant takes over more and more ground. There could be a parallel subplot with a beautiful person who is actually a manipulative, destructive, greedy, selfish brute. It would be like Maleficent but with flowers in the lead role.

Or, even better, it could have a sub-subplot with evil people spreading beautiful lies online so that the people all think they are voting for a good person when, in fact, they are voting for the zombie candidate. He’s the one with the underground structure that chokes out all the desirable perennial candidates.

Nope. We just have to root out those darned things, over and over again. Nip them in the bud. Pull them up before they flower.




  1. We have numerous Invaders and they are a pain in the backside to get rid of once they get a foothold.
    I am slowly but surely pushing for an indigenous garden. I won’t be able to go the whole hog …. I have a wife who likes certain flowers, but every continent should have enough natural beauty without having to resort to ”foreigners”.

    Compromise is the key I guess, but be wary of what one plants as the negative ripple effects can sometimes be huge.

  2. Here in Kansas, the pretty musk thistle is noxious. Not native and overpowering the native plants. But we are not held as accountable as you are!
    Have you ever read Barbara Kingsolver’s essay book called “High Tide in Tucson”? At least one of the essays is about Hawaii and the introduction of non-native species causing a lot of destruction. It’s been a while since I read it, but I recall enjoying it immensely.

      • Oh, you are being the conscientious citizen! Since your neighbor is not, you will continue to have opportunities to eradicate your Bellflower. Shucks! If you are like me, that list of “books to read” can be quite long! But I love having that list; it’s kinda like continual gifts.

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