A favorite floral: Bells of Ireland

Hallie Bates with the Bells of Ireland she grew on her family farm in Poteet. HALEY BATES | COURTESY PHOTO

Hallie Bates with the Bells of Ireland she grew on her family farm in Poteet. HALEY BATES | COURTESY PHOTO

“What are these?” I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked this question about the Bells of Ireland that I had the privilege of growing this year. Each time someone would ask, I’d well up with excitement at the opportunity to share about one of my favorite florals. These green bells must have a hundred cool characteristics, but my opening line was always the same. “Well, they are called Bells of Ireland, BUT guess what? They actually originated in the Netherlands.” My nerdy answer either made interested customers send a sympathy laugh my way or engage in interest with these unique blooms.

These florals have opened up conversation far beyond what I could have envisioned. They’ve inspired comments like these: “Oh my goodness, my grandma used to grow these!” or “They actually grow here?” or “I had these at my wedding!” Flowers connect our stories in the most unique ways.

Something I have learned about the Bells of Ireland is that they are in a group of what I have come to call “oldfashion” flowers. These beauties are less known today. Most younger people have never heard of them, which makes it extra exciting to share these forgotten treasures at local farmers’ markets. Now, you might be wondering what all the fuss is about. So, dear reader, let me share these treasures with you, too.

Their stems are strong and their bells are firm. The vivid array of green that exudes from them, cannot but make one think of the grassy Irish countryside. They add life and color into every bouquet and their gentle scent is simply delightful.

I planted my bells in January—keeping them in a greenhouse on heatedgermination pads so that they do not freeze in the unpredictable weather of South Texas. In my experience, Bells of Irelands are some of the most productive florals that I have grown. They branch out, which causes each plant to produce 10-15 stems per play and that adds up pretty quickly. It is also said that Bells of Ireland help repel deer from ravaging gardens. Not only are they beautiful hardworking plants, they are quite practical and are ideal for any gardens or outdoor planting areas. I say, let’s bring these old fashion beauties back and be inspired by the lovely sights and smells they provide us! I’m quite looking forward to this year’s crop of Bells and all the stories yet to be shared! Happy planting!

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