GBBD: Sleep, Creep, Leap

Anemone 'White Swan'

I'm delighted how my Anemone 'White Swan' plants have taken off in the garden this year. They've proved a real tonic in a shady part of the garden and positively shine out, even during the gloomy weather we're having.

At the time when instant makeovers and results are king, it's good to be reminded not all plants are at their best when planted initially. This anemone is in its third year here at VP Gardens, and really looked to be a poor doer for the first two years.

Luckily I was reminded of the garden adage sleep, creep, leap before I ripped them out in disgust. This saying refers to the way some plants prefer to establish themselves. The first year is the sleep phase, when the plant is settling down and letting its roots establish themselves. Then in the second year the roots and the leaves creep outwards - often imperceptibly - to create a place for themselves in the border. Finally, in the third year, the plant leaps to its full glory, just like my anemones above.

I first noticed this phenomenon with most of the clematis I planted when I initially laid out this garden. You can imagine my disappointment at how one of my favourite plants didn't want to grow for me. Some instinct made me leave them be - I was yet to know about sleep, creep, leap - and eventually my patience paid off.

I've noticed the same with the Hakonechloa grasses I have in pots, plus the Geranium psilostemon and Astrantia major in the top terrace bed. How about you?

Garden Bloggers Blooms Day is hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. My thanks to Benjamin Vogt at The Deep Middle who alerted me to the sleep, creep, leap phenomenon.

Update: I found this interesting article which lists quite a few plants which exhibit sleep, creep, leap. It confirms my clematis and hakonechloa experiences, but none of the others I've mentioned.

Rear view of Anemone 'White Swan'
Proof that a plant can look just as gorgeous from the back


  1. That is a pretty back view of a bloom!
    Happy Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day!

  2. Interesting post. Those anemones are lovely looking flowers. Flighty xx

    1. They're shorter and not as thuglike as the usual anemones, Flighty and flower from May to November too. Worth thinking about for any garden :)

  3. Just shows patience does pay :)

    1. It does - I need to find some more of it... ;)

  4. Such a lovely plant, I will have to be patient, mine we only planted a year ago.

    1. Well worth waiting for Pauline - I had one or two flowers in the first 2 years, so hopefully you'll have some signs of the good things to come with yours soon

  5. Isn't gardening all about patience? It is a good saying. I keep that in mind. Groetjes Hetty

    1. You've got me thinking there Hetty... that's one aspect of gardening (often overlooked for sure) - I wonder what other words we use to describe the act of gardening?

  6. I'm putting white anemones into the shady border of the middle garden and am only used to seeing them in full bulk up at Capel Manor so thanks for this tip about waiting! Patience is definitely a key part of gardening!

    1. My next Plant Profile is going to be Japanese Anemones, so watch this space. They can be quite thuggish though...


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