SOFT WOOD ANEMONE
Twinkling white stars brighten even the gloomiest days of winter, thanks to Anemone flaccida Soft Wood Anemone.
First to flower
Anemone flaccida is amongst the very first in the garden to flower, blooming from mid-winter on.
In fact as I write mine is blooming through snow!
Fortunately it is very long blooming, carrying on well into spring.
Silver laced foliage carpet
Leaves are attractively cut, scalloped and laced with silver markings, after first emerging olive-green and silver.
So the foliage is pretty in its own right, and the common name of Soft Wood Anemone celebrates this.
“Flaccida” means soft, as indeed the leaves do look so prettily soft.
Hardy groundcover mat under trees and shrubs
It makes an excellent groundcover mat under trees and shrubs.
Because it is a woodland plant in its wild habitat, so it is perfectly at home in either Deep Shade or Dappled Shade, and even a little morning sun.
Although it is only 10cm. high, it does make a big impression, with a thick carpet of prettily scalloped leaves in the Shade, spreading to a diameter of approximately 1 metre.
And any plant that thrives under my big old trees is a good friend to me.
Frost & cold hardy, and able to tolerate summer dry as well
Anemone flaccida is extremely tolerant of hard frosts, and severe cold.
However it also protects itself from extremes of heat and dry by going underground, and becoming dormant during summer. But don’t worry – the stout rhizomes will hold the fort.
It is surprisingly dry hardy over summer.
This summer dormancy makes it a perfect companion plant to live in the same piece of ground with later bulbs such as Tulips, plus summer and autumn blooming shade perennials such as Tiarellas.
A perfect companion for spring bulbs & summer perennials
So you can make the same spot in the garden beam with flowers from mid winter right through all the seasons.
As the winter feature of Anemone flaccida will retreat away just as the spring bulbs need the spot, and then in their turn the bulbs will die down as the summer perennials want the spot, and so on into autumn etc.etc.
Growing: Anemone flaccida
SOFT WOOD ANEMONE
– Height with flowers: 10cm. approx.
– Width: Non-invasive foliage mat to a diameter of approximately 1 metre.
– Position: Deep Shade to 1/2 Shade under trees and shrubs, including Dappled Shade and Woodland conditions. Will also tolerate a little morning sun. It is surprisingly dry hardy over summer, and remarkably cold, wet and frost hardy over winter.
– Soil: Really does not seem to mind. It can thrive in any soil from sandy to clay, acid to alkaline lime pH, as long as it has the shade.
– Frost: Extremely frost hardy, easily tolerating frosts down to -20C.
– Growth: Hardy perennial that grows and blooms in winter and spring, followed by a summer dormancy. It then re-sprouts with the autumn rains come.
– Beneficial for wildlife: Bees and other pollinating insects find the mid winter flowers an invaluable source of pollen.
– Care: Very easy care, as once established it can just be left to get on with it through the years.
– Deer & Rabbit resistant: As the foliage has a burning sensation if eaten, rabbits and deer seem to much prefer other things on their menu.
– Origin: Woodlands in Japan (where it is a very popular garden plant and known as “Two Flowers” because each stem tends to bear two flowers); and woodlands in China and Korea.
A colourful history
The name Anemone means “daughter of the wind” in the ancient Greek language. But by the time of the ancient Romans some 2,000 years ago, the story had changed a little.
The Romans believed that Anemone plants were created when the goddess Venus sprinkled nectar on the spilling blood of her dying lover Adonis. Venus had warned her beloved not to go hunting those dangerous wild boar, but of course he went anyway. She was distraught when she found him bleeding and dying. He had been mortally wounded by an angry boar, who had managed to run his tusks into a very uncomfortable place indeed.
So Venus sprinkled her lover’s blood with sweet smelling nectar, and lo and behold, Anemone blooms sprung from the mix, like flowers after the first rain.