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Growing woodland anemones

Posted: Monday 9 April 2012
by James Alexander-Sinclair

Anemone nemorosa, one of my favourite plants, is an early spring-flowering perennial that gets all of its business [...] out of the way before the trees come into leaf...


A carpet of wood anemones

My mother-in-law has a cracking garden. It’s very different from ours in that it’s bigger, and contains woodland, even though we live next door. She has the advantage of some wonderful trees, in particular a vast green beech that has survived losing a couple of huge branches.

The tree is lovely enough - I climbed to the top of it once when I was younger and more energetic (it was a long way up) - but even better is the display of wood anemones (Anemone nemorosa) that emerges around this time of year.

Anemone nemorosa, one of my favourite plants, is an early spring-flowering perennial that gets all of its business (flowering, pollination etc.) out of the way before the trees come into leaf, shading out much of the light. It’s very sensitive to sunshine and, during flowering time, if the weather is a bit dull the flowers remain stubbornly shut, opening only with a bit of warmth and brightness. Many of you will know exactly how it feels.

It spreads by extending its rhizomes underground, rather than by scattering seed, so it's quite slow to establish. It colonises about six feet every century, so if you come across a big patch then you know that you are in some pretty ancient woodland. However, if you want a quicker covering, try Anemone blanda, which is a southern European native that adds a splash of blue to proceedings.

If we have a sunny Easter, then I can think of no better way to walk off that pre-breakfast Easter egg, than by wandering through emerging woodland plants being smiled at by anemones.

Fortunately for me, I only have to go next door.



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happymarion 10/04/2012 at 10:37

And I only have to visit the Woodland Edge Garden at the Bristol Botanic Garden where A. blanda, nemorosa and pavonina among other species are carpeting the ground right now. I plant A. blanda in the green and have been successful in getting them to establish quickly. I just put a rhizome in a small pot and plant out when the flowers appear. I do the same with the Lent Lily, Narcissus pseudo narcissus. It is not just snowdrops that benefit from this so it seems to me this may be the best way to plant all woodland edge plants for quick establishment.

the enduring gardener 12/04/2012 at 11:11

Our favourite anemone has to be the bright blue Mr Fokker.

pammie123 12/04/2012 at 20:48

Last year I had many Anemone Blanda established over 3/4 years. This year it's as if they have never been there.........they have simply vanished! Could they have been eaten by something? I have a lot of voles in my garden.

Georgie3 13/04/2012 at 11:49

Hello, I wonder if wood anemones would be any good in my very shady patch of garden, if not could you suggest any others? Thanks.

Alina W 13/04/2012 at 12:37

They need a little sunshine to thrive, even if it's only early in the day. Also, I'm not sure if the flowers will open well without sun.

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