Sunday 22 April 2018

Gardening: Anemones sparkle in the spring sunshine

CHEERY FLOWER: The Greek anemones
CHEERY FLOWER: The Greek anemones

Gerry Daly

One day the Greek anemones are not to be seen, or they are struggling with chilly nights, but when a few warm days come along, suddenly, they are wide open and shining in the sunshine. This is an immensely cheery flower as many daisy-flowered plants are. It brings a lively sparkle to the garden, and to spring bedding in pots or window boxes.

Although daisy-shaped, this is not a member of the daisy family. It is a member of the buttercup family, along with clematis and hellebores. The Greek anemone, or Anemone blanda, comes from Greece and southern Europe across to Turkey and its neighbouring countries. This anemone is found in its native habitat growing in rocky places, scrubby woodland and alpine meadows. It is hardy and thrives in this country.

The flowers are about four centimetres across, although some selected forms have larger flowers. The colour is usually blue, but white forms are frequent and usually there is a mix of blue and white with some very pale blue, others almost violet, and pink forms arise too. There are selected forms in the various colours but a blend of shades is the most effective, especially for growing naturally under trees and shrubs.

This is a woodland flower and easy to grow under deciduous trees and shrubs in a garden of any size. The stems grow from knobbly tubers that spread slowly outwards, making a broad clump, and this flower is best seen in sheets under light tree cover. Though small, the plant is tenacious in the right soil, which should not be too fertile but contain lots of humus and be well-drained.

If the ground dries out in summer, as it usually does under trees, the knobbly tubers keep the plant alive through the dry summer and winter. It loses its leaves by mid-summer and only the withered foliage is left above ground. If the soil conditions suit the anemone plants well, they will increase from self-sown seeds too.

It is possible to buy Greek anemones in flower in pots at this time of year, or plant the tubers in autumn. They are easily planted by lifting the sod and should be planted in random groups to appear as natural as possible. The tubers also can be planted into containers, by themselves, or with spring bedding, such as primroses and hyacinth bulbs. When the spring bedding is taken out, the anemones can be set out in a flower bed in sunshine or shade and will build up over the years, flowering most in sunlight.

Sunday Independent

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