LARGE MERRY BELLS
Fascinating, twisted flowers, that look like swirling golden ribbons, distinguish Uvularia grandiflora, also known as Large Merry Bells.
Twisted golden ribbons in spring
Arching stems begin to swell with twisted buds in mid-spring. Then by late spring they have burst to large yellow bell shaped flowers, just like a clutch of yellow ribbons blowing in the breeze.
The top parts of the plant tend to bend downward due to the weight of the leaves and flowers, making a very graceful shape to the clump.
And take a close look, because the growing stems emerge from the centre of the leaves, making the clump even prettier and more unusual.
(Please see “Growing” section below for plant details, how / where to grow)
Good companions with bulbs for a succession of seasonal colour
Merry Bells make excellent companions to plant over the top of bulbs. Because just as the bulbs finish flowering and their foliage looks disgraceful, that’s when the Merry bells spring into action to cover all the shame.
Dainty cut flowers
Unexpectedly, they also make excellent cut flowers and last well in a vase.
Hardy shade dwellers
Uvularia grandiflora are natural born shade dwellers, and are perfectly at home and very hardy under trees or shrubs.
They really don’t mind if the shade is evergreen or deciduous, and can also be recommended to gardeners dealing with summer humidity or clay. They are able to cope with dry shade once they are established.
Growing: Uvularia grandiflora
LARGE MERRY BELLS
– Height with flowers: 30cm approx.
– Width: Merry Bells form a dense clump of flowering stems and foliage to a diameter of 30-60cm approx.
– Position: Deep Shade to Partial Shade, and Dappled Shade under trees and shrubs is heaven for Merry Bells. So they detest hot afternoon sun. But they don’t mind if the shade is evergreen or deciduous.
However they do tolerate summer humidity well, so can be recommended for gardeners in sub-tropical climates.
Good for gardeners with clay or summer humidity
– Soil: Merry Bells are natural born woodland plants. So they enjoy the leaf litter and humus under trees and shrubs.
They thrive in loamy garden soil, and clay based soils, and are amongst a small army of plants recommended for gardeners with clay. However they enjoy drainage and do not enjoy to remain waterlogged for long periods.
They are very tolerant of a wide range of soil pH, on both the acid and alkaline (lime) side of neutral.
But unfortunately not suitable for sandy soils.
Hardy & water-wise, despite the dainty look
– Water-wise: Merry bells are not thirsty plants, despite their dainty appearance. They actually have a robust rhizome type root system. So this gives them the ability to withstand periods of difficulty and dry. Normal, average garden watering is more than adequate, and they can happily go for a while between drinks.
So they are regarded as drought tolerant once established
– Frost: Very frost hardy, as Merry Bells are able to cope with hard frosts to well below -20C
– Growth: Hardy perennial clump which gently spreads and thickens with a base of rhizomes. But fear not – it is not invasive. They are dormant in the winter, and the newly unfurling spring growth is very attractive.
– Beneficial for wildlife: Bees love the nectar rich flowers.
– Care: Merry Bells are easy growing, low care plants, as long as they are given the shady home they crave. The only work you may wish to do is to cut them back at the end of the autumn when they go into their winter dormancy.
– Deer & Rabbit resistant: Sadly – none. Deer and rabbits find them tasty.
So good they won the medal
– Origin: Merry Bells are native to drier woodlands right down the eastern side of North America. So they range comfortably from the summer humidity of the American south to the freezing winters of the north.
The Royal Horticultural Society therefore awarded their prestigious “Award of Garden Merit” to Uvularia grandiflora, in recognition of its useful hardiness, ease of growing, and beauty.