Seen at the Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Plant Profiles: Japanese Anemones

Japanese anemone and Clematis jackmanii
Japanese anemones look great in bud, in full bloom, after the petals have fallen, and from all angles

Last year, one of my Japanese anemones confounded me by reappearing in my border after a leave of absence of many years. This year it's confounded me again, by flowering much earlier than advertised. Most sources say this is a plant of August/September in the border; mine's been in flower since early July. Judging by the number of buds left, it'll still perform its regular flowering duties.

Having cleared some of the surrounding ground, it's repaid my care by coming back even stronger. The Clematis jackmanii nearby has bent downwards, and its single flower plus plentiful buds gives notice of a charming combination to come.

Last year I was wondering why my plant bore no resemblance to the deep pink Anemone 'Hadspen Abundance' my garden scrapbook says should be there. The ever reliable Val Bourne in The Telegraph suggests my plant may be one of the pink doubles which are quite often mis-sold under the name.

I now have a dilemma. Do I leave my thriving plant as it is, or should I replace it with a more choice cultivar? I'm planning a revamp of this part of the garden, and it's tempting to have one of the white forms to sing out of the shade instead. However, I'm well aware this is a plant with a strong survival instinct, so I may well just leave it be.

Val Bourne's article suggests the aster 'Little Carlow' as a planting companion. This is on my must-have list for the garden as it originates from nearby Devizes. It looks like I've found its future location for VP Gardens. She also suggests fuchsias, which I already have nearby.

Cultivation Notes

Back lighting emphasises the delicacy of Japanese anemone blooms
Owners of small gardens should note Japanese anemones like to spread themselves out a bit, if given conditions they like. I seem to have given mine less than ideal ones (very soggy clay at the bottom of a slope and in fairly deep shade), which helps to keep it in check. They don't really like the winter wet and prefer fertile soils in light or shade.

As my anemone has proved, they can be quite hard to eradicate once established in the garden (the latter can take a little while - they're another example of Sleep, Creep, Leap plants). It means they'll still thrive if neglected - there's always a silver lining. Plants grow to around 3 feet in height, so are generally grown as middle to back border plants.

This year's mass of anemone blooms
Propagation is by division in spring, or via root cuttings in late autumn or winter. Note that if you grow several cultivars together, you may find some seedling offspring in your borders.

Anemone 'Hadspen Abundance' is the popular deep pink form grown in many gardens, and Anemone x hybrida 'Honorine Jobert' is the one if you'd prefer white. I also like the look of the pink double A. huphensis var. japonica 'Bressingham Glow', a shorter cultivar which would be a nice reminder of my past visit to Bressingham Gardens and nursery.

The national collection is held at Hadlow College. See the website for visiting arrangements, as the check collection is in the private garden. Taxa are also incorporated into the gardens surrounding the college garden centre.

See last September's Blooms Day post for Latin Without Tears.

Plant Profiles is sponsored by Whitehall Garden Centre.

Note that sponsorship goes towards my blogging costs; the words and pictures are my own. There are no affiliate links or cookies associated with this post.


  1. Our plant started flowering in July and has lots of buds. The flowers seem to be smaller this year though.

    1. I've seen several gardeners remarking they're early this year on Twitter. Yours is the first remark re the size of the flowers... I've just checked mine and they look about the right size. I wonder of your blooms are more abundant this year, which may in turn have affected their size?

  2. They've long been on my wishlist for the back of the border behind the fruit trees. I've deliberately chosen plants that I know will spread and grow as there's a lot of space to fill, so ferns, crocosmia, hemerocallis and now Japanese anemones which I bought a few of last weekend. They may be a pickle to get rid of once planted but I love that they'll flower in autumn and in the shade - a double win for this garden!

    1. That sounds sensible Caro for your community garden situation - let the plants do as much work for you as possible!


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