“Wood anemones have a natural, uncomplicated beauty”
What is the appeal of Anemone nemorosa?
Wood anemones have a natural, uncomplicated beauty. Along with snowdrops, they herald the awakening of the garden and are easy to grow. In springtime they form a starry carpet in the dappled shade at the edge of woodland, or beneath trees and shrubs in the garden, flowering for four to six weeks from mid-march onwards. Wood anemones thrive in any shady spot and their blooms are usually white, but can also be the palest pink or blue. There are many new and unusual colour and shape variations, most of which occur naturally in the wild or in the garden. Where do they come from?
An early spring-flowering plant in the family Ranunculaceae, the wood anemone is native to Europe. Most varieties reach no more than 20cm in height, and the plants start blooming soon after the foliage emerges from the ground. The leaves are divided into three segments and
the flowers, produced on short stems, are held above the foliage with one flower per stem. How are they best grown? Easy to look after, Anemone nemorosa thrives best in the ground, but at Avondale the collection is kept in large separate containers in case they spread into each other, causing identification problems. Grow them in partial shade in any soil, even solid clay, provided it is topped with a 10cm layer of humus-rich soil or leaf mould to mimic woodland conditions. In the wild, the plant’s slim rhizomes spread just under the surface, forming long clumps that grow quickly, contributing to its rapid spread in woodland conditions. Best divided when dormant, wood anemones can be moved ‘in the green’. To create a larger patch, break off 2.5cm pieces of the rhizomatous roots from the parent plant, spread them out and cover with 5cm of humus-rich compost, then
water thoroughly. In woodland, they’ll put on all their growth before the trees start to block out the light with their foliage. In summer, wood anemones lose their leaves , becoming dormant. Do they need special treatment? All varieties will naturalise, given woodland conditions, with only the occasional feed of blood, fish and bone. It’s worth buying a plant in leaf to reassure yourself that it is viable, but it may not flower until the second year when settled in properly. Keep an eye out for activity of a small mite, not visible to the eye, that deceives the plant into accelerating growth in the foliage and root, resulting in the occasional enlarged leaf or distorted flower. If you spot these signs, lift out the offending parts with a trowel and dispose of them in the bin, not the compost heap.
Avondale Nursery, Baginton, Coventry (07979 093096; avondalenursery.co.uk)*. Open Monday-saturday, 10am-12.30pm and 2pm-5pm; Sunday, 10.30am-4.30pm.
“In springtime, wood anemones form a starry carpet in the dappled shade”
The striking semi-double Anemone nemorosa ‘Gerda Ramusen’
The bright yellow-tipped stamens of Anemone nemorosa ‘Wyatt’s Pink’ provide a vivid contrast to its pastel petals