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Notorious creeping bellflower is beautiful and difficult to get rid of in Sask.

Creeping bellflower is not a native plant to Saskatchewan and is very difficult to get rid of once in the garden. (Émile Lapointe/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Creeping bellflower is not a native plant to Saskatchewan and is very difficult to get rid of once in the garden. (Émile Lapointe/Radio-Canada - image credit)

The creeping bellflower is a somewhat notorious and unwanted garden-guest, well-known for being incredibly difficult to remove permanently, but one gardener says it can be managed.

Creeping bellflowers are purple and shaped like their name implies. They multiply in people's gardens and yards.

"I have given up all illusions about killing it. Honestly, like, there's nothing you can do, it's here," said Lyndon Penner. "All you can hope to do is control it, and so I do not let it go to seed."

Penner is an experienced gardener who called in to chat with Stefani Langenegger on CBC Radio's The Morning Edition about the ill-famed plant species.

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Penner said that "we did this to ourselves" because the plant isn't native to Saskatchewan. Originally it's from northern Asia and northern Europe, and was brought over because of the tough durability of the plant.

The solution? Persistence and inner peace — Penner says that's the only way to really manage the weed, and people might have to come to terms with that.

"They are either in the house sobbing because it's not going anywhere, or they are Zen masters who have just come to terms with the fact that this is a life form they share their planet with."

Penner advised people to keep removing the plants and stick with it.

Creeping bellflower is so difficult to weed properly because of its intricate and "ingenious" root system. With skinny fibrous roots near the surface of the soil, it collects all the moisture it can. Then, according to Penner, six to eight inches deeper is the tap root, which holds all of the regenerative abilities.

"It is an extraordinary plant. I mean from an evolutionary perspective, I have nothing but respect for [it]."

While the weed is invasive and seen as a pain to manage from a gardening perspective, Penner said it's also beneficial to bumblebees because of the nectar and pollen it provides.

According to the Government of Canada, the International Union for Conservation of Nature designated yellow-banded bumblebees as being vulnerable, which is "based on rangewide declines assessed as greater than 30 per cent."

Stefani Langenegger/CBC
Stefani Langenegger/CBC

Rachelle Hofmeister, the outdoor sales manager at Dutch Growers Regina, says that while creeping bellflowers provide some positives for bees, they can take away from the native plants of Saskatchewan.

"The the issue with that, is that the reason that it's invasive is because it chokes out all of the native plants," said Hofmeister. "And all of our native plants are also great pollinators."

Some of the plants Hofmeister included as possible alternatives for those worried about the bees were salvias, native rudbeckia and black-eyed Susans.