[SPAM] Re: Spring Anemones

Jane McGary janemcgary@earthlink.net
Thu, 16 Apr 2009 10:30:15 PDT
I like to grow any spring anemone I can get, and this isn't too easy 
for those living in North America. Most of them have ephemeral seeds; 
if, however, the seeds have a cottony coating when mature, those 
seeds will remain viable in storage. Examples of the latter type are 
the all too common Anemone multifida (which comes into seed exchanges 
under various names) and such pretty species as A. palmata (brilliant 
yellow), which is barely hardy outdoors here but flourishes in the 
bulb frame. Anemone nemorosa is considered a pest by many gardeners, 
but I love it and want to grow every form except the ones with green 
"petals" (sepals) or deformed-looking double flowers. Such a small 
plant doesn't out-compete anything, though it shouldn't be 
established in a rock garden where tiny choice plants are grown, lest 
it smother them with its leaves, which reach about 4 inches/10 cm at 
maturity. Anemone appenina is another good one that flowers a little 
earlier; those I have are white inside and pale blue outside, and 
stay closed in dull weather. A. ranunculoides has tiny yellow flowers 
and, here at least, takes a long time to form a good colony; there is 
an attractive double form. I've also acquired some more unusual ones 
from European bulb sources. From seed I have A. heldreichii (now, I 
believe, sunk in A. hortensis) and A. biflora. There are also fine 
forms of A. blanda, another species that's unfairly denigrated for 
being easy and self-propagating; one from Ruksans called 'Enem' is a 
real gentian blue. I got one under the name A. stellata from 
Edelweiss Perennials a couple of years ago; it has bright magenta 
flowers, and I think stellata is actually a synonym for A. hortensis 
too, though it's hard for a non-botanist to view this and the white, 
blue-backed flowers of "heldreichii" as the same thing.

One of the things I'm most remiss about is in failing to establish 
our native spring anemones in the garden. A. deltoidea is very like 
the European A. trifolia and is native to my country property here. 
A. oregana is similar to A. nemorosa and also comes in different 
colors -- blue, white, and pale pink; it's usually found above the 
winter snow line, which suggests that it might not flourish at lower 

The strains of A. coronaria and A. pavonina that John Grimshaw 
discussed are favorites for me too, though not all color forms seem 
equally cold-hardy. This is interesting, because I noticed while 
traveling in Crete that different populations tended to be all one 
color (pink or blue or white), and I wondered if this was connected 
with the elevation at which they grew. I've also seen mixed-color 
populations of A. coronaria, though. The blue ones seem to stick 
around best here, which is fine with me, and they also bloom before 
the red ones. Here in western Oregon, they do best in full sun and 
well-drained sites. I think they'd look nice in a "gravel garden" 
covered with stone mulch, but in the wild they usually grow in grass 
among herbs that probably get tall and dense later in the season. 
John mentioned a garden where they are naturalized in grass but 
looked a little unnatural -- I expect because the grass was short 
when they were in bloom.

I do think a lot about naturalizing bulbs in grass and always enjoy 
seeing seedlings that pop up in the meadow grass near my bulb frames. 
At present I have only crocuses in the actual lawns, but in the new 
garden I'm planning I'm going to try more things in an area where I 
noticed the lawn (now covering most of the half-acre property) is 
sparse. I have to leave it in grass to allow vehicle access to the 
back garden, but that's no reason not to have spring ephemerals that 
will be dormant at any time when it's necessary to drive a tractor over them.

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

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