I have long been a fan of Japanese anemones*. They are great garden plants and so easy to grow. As a child I was fascinated by their simple-looking flowers on strong, wand like stems. Of course I was not bothered by the fact that they never need staking at that age nor that they drop their petals as they fade so a clump is always tidy. But I was fascinated by the green, spherical ‘seed heads’
As I started garden I valued the way they spread through even the stickiest clay soils to form weed-smothering clumps of coarsely divided foliage – dense enough to beat down ground elder. And I appreciated the way they could be left to get on with life for year after year with just the merest attention.
There are two potential problems – there are always some – and that is the way they can spread a bit too far and the fact that they can be a bit slow to establish and they do not like to be divided and probably grow more easily from root cuttings than lumps of their woody rootstocks. It is true that they can spread through the border but they are easy enough to dig out. I feel almost defensive for the plant – leave it alone – it is a beautiful, undemanding plant and deserves a bit of respect.
There are lots of cvs and every year there are a few new ones, usually in deeper pinks and with more compact habit. But I like the tall ones best. They bring colour and grace to the garden from late July onwards and they always look good.
And although most are pink, there are some whites too and it is these that capture my heart. They are the best of all white flowers in the garden. White flowers are fine but they have one big flaw – their beauty is ruined if dead flowers go brown and hang on among the fresh blooms. So this anemone has the advantage that the petals drop as they age so the plant always looks clean.
Yesterday at Mount Usher, having braved the rain, the sun came out just as I passed a rather spindly, expansive clump of white anemones, probably left to fight it out with the grass for decades. Their flowers floated in the sunbeams penetrating the trees overhead. I suspect this is ‘Honorine Jobert’ (the petals seem a bit too irregular) but it may be ‘Coupe d’Argent’ – I just don’t know. What I do know is that it was the most beautiful thing I saw all day – and I did go in the Avoca cake shop!
- Variously A. vitifolium, A. x hybrida, A. hupehensis etc.