Friday 31 August 2012

Autumn Anemones – Anemone x hybrida

  The autumn anemone is one of the great garden delights of late summer and autumn.  I originally knew this wonderful perennial as the Japanese anemone, later as Anemone japonica.  It was always known as a plant that thrived and spread in some gardens and refuses to establish in others – mainly because it was often sold as a bare root perennial, wrapped in peat and plastic.Today well-established container grown plants ensure its quick establishment on most reasonable soils, in sun or shade however, it does flower best if it gets a few hours of sun a day.  It grows best where the soil does not dry out completely.

The foliage of Japanese anemones makes excellent ground cover. E. A. Bowles wrote: “It has taken possession of rather more of my garden than I desired, but it is so lovely that I cannot bring myself to root any of it out”.  I’m rather glad that my mother never read that quote; she struggled to grow it but loved it so.  

Few flowers bloom for such a long season.  The simple pink autumn anemone, known as Anemone japonica of gardens can bloom for nearly three months.  The charming rounded blooms with their round shining petals are elegantly poised on slender upright stems high above the lovely dark green foliage.  The centrepiece of each bloom is a crown of golden stamens.

The white form Anemone x hybrida ‘Honorine Jobert’ is one of the loveliest white flowers. The silken petals surround particularly fine golden stamens.  It is at its best against a dark green background such as the evergreen mound of Viburnum davidii in a semi-shaded corner.   On fertile soil it can grow to a metre or more in height but is often shorter in its first season.  The light height of this elegant perennial means that it fits easily into any garden.

The lovely deep pink Anemone x hybrida ‘Prinz Heinrich’ is also a delight. The semi double blooms have narrower waved, slightly incurved petals.  The slender flower stems grow to 60cm or so above particularly fine dark green foliage. It is lovely planted alongside the plum foliage of Berberis thunbergii ‘Rose Glow’ or the autumn sapphire blooms of ceratostigma. ‘Prinz Heinrich’ is a particularly fine plant for a small garden or a narrow border. 

If autumn anemones look familiar to you in a different context all may become clear later in the year.  The simple bloom of the Japanese anemone is often mistakenly depicted as the Christmas rose alongside holly on Christmas cards. 

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