“Wood anemones have a nat­u­ral, un­com­pli­cated beauty”

Country Living (UK) - - Gardening -

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 bright yel­low-tipped sta­mens of Anemone nemorosa ‘Wyatt’s Pink’ pro­vide a vivid con­trast to its pas­tel petals

The strik­ing semi-dou­ble Anemone nemorosa ‘Gerda Ra­musen’

‘Par­lez Vous’

‘Robin­so­ni­ana’ ‘Robin­so­ni­ana’

‘La Rochanne’

‘Royal Blue’

‘Virescens’

‘Wilks’ White’

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