El­e­gant Ja­panese anemones

Late-sum­mer Ja­panese anemones will bring nat­u­ral chic into beds and bor­ders. Val Bourne nom­i­nates the cul­ti­vars to go for

Garden Answers (UK) - - Contents -

Septem­ber’s a serene gar­den­ing month with less to do, cooler nights and a crys­tal-clear light that flat­ters the gar­den. The sim­ple flow­ers of Ja­panese anemone float through the gar­den now, their long stems topped with el­e­gant blooms in shades of bright and cool pink and pure white. They tend to ram­ble on a net­work of roots, which is how Scot­tish plant hunter Robert For­tune came across Anemone hu­pe­hen­sis roam­ing through a Shang­hai grave­yard. He recorded that they were “a most ap­pro­pri­ate or­na­ment” and by 1844 the el­e­gant plant had been in­tro­duced here. Typ­i­cally it’s sin­gle-flow­ered, of­ten with two darker petals op­po­site each other, as in Au­gust-flow­er­ing ‘Had­spen Abun­dance’ and ‘Bowles’s Pink’. How­ever, there are fuller, semi-dou­ble pink forms with roughly 20 petals, listed un­der the rather cum­ber­some name of Anemone hu­pe­hen­sis japon­ica. These bloom later, with more-vivid, longer-last­ing flow­ers.

Grey seed pearls

My favourite, ‘Pam­ina’, arose as a seedling and was named by Hans Si­mon, a nurs­ery­man from Bavaria, in 1983. In July, the large buds are a real fea­ture, sus­pended on downy stems like grey seed pearls, and in my rose and pe­ony bor­ders it pro­vides a tall screen of bright-pink flow­ers into early au­tumn. Shorter ‘Rotkäp­pchen’ (of­ten sold as ‘Red Rid­ing Hood’) has deep-pink nar­row petals and reaches up to 60cm (2ft) tall. It’s part of The Fan­tasy Series that also in­cludes ‘Poc­a­hon­tas’ and ‘Lit­tle Princess’. Most gar­den­ers pre­fer the taller Ja­panese anemones, which are airy and el­e­gant. Plant breed­ers have pro­duced hy­brids and most have sin­gle, milky-toned flow­ers on slen­der stems in late sum­mer and early au­tumn. Iconic white ‘Honorine Jobert’, found in 1858 in Mon­sieur Jobert’s gar­den by Vic­toire Le­moine of Nancy in France, has still not been bet­tered de­spite its great age. The per­fect white petals surround a boss of gold sta­mens, above stems and fo­liage in a com­fort­ing dark green. It has a habit of creep­ing into the shade where it looks al­most an­gelic. Ja­panese anemones do pre­fer to choose their own spot, and weave their way through other plants, cre­at­ing a sea of colour. Use them to cre­ate an in­for­mal look with a dark shrub such as Cot­i­nus cog­gy­gria ‘Royal Pur­ple’, or with laven­der-blue asters such as ‘Lit­tle Car­low’. They don’t need stak­ing and won’t get eaten by deer or rab­bits.

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