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ANEMONE TERRITORY; In a dark, dank copse, one of our most enigmatic flowers waits for the first rays of watery sunshine. The wood anemone carpets the ground in a kaleidoscope of blue, green and white..they are surely the wild wonders of spring.


When the weather has allowed, I've been planting out a few pots of wood anemones. Though there are already lots in the garden, I'm greedy for more.

The plants are hardly visible in their pots as yet but I know that soon their new shoots will come inquisitively through the ground, wrapped around the new buds, which will open to the most pristine flowers.

A couple of miles down the road from where we live are some old hazel woods, which long ago would have been coppiced for charcoal. The land is steep, north–facing and by summer, the trees are entangled with honeysuckle. The ground – after the bluebells and wild garlic have finished their show – is lush with ferns luxuriating among thick sheets of luscious moss.

But before this happens, when the tracks of deer can be seen and their scent detected, under these leafless trees another plant comes to the fore. Walk past on a gloomy day in early April and leaf litter and moss are all you see. On dull days, wood anemones hang their heads, petals furled tightly to protect precious pollen.

But the next day, when the sun shines from a clear spring sky, suddenly the woodland floor is transformed as if by a magic wand.

Countless white flowers hold their heads aloft, petals outstretched to the warmth and light.

They follow the sun's passage from east to west, offering up sweet nectar to itinerant insects.

Anemone nemorosa, the wood anemone, is one of our most beloved wild flowers, occurring in huge numbers all over the British Isles in woodland and shady hedgerow.

In early spring, very soon in fact, it pushes up wiry stems supporting lacy leaves wrapped around its infant buds. Its petals or sepals are dusty pink on the outside while inside, they are pure white.

Though there are more than 40 selections of wood anemone listed, none surpasses the simple beauty of the species.

One of the wood anemones I Iove best and that we plant widely at Glebe Cottage is a. nemorosa Bracteata Pleniflora.

As its title suggests, it is a combination of sepals and bracts, all deliciously interspersed to make one of the prettiest of these woodland Cinderellas. Every flower is different from the next with varying amounts of green and white in each flower head.

In a. nemorosa Greenfingers, it's the other way round – white spring flowers tinged with green are always attractive but these two anemones are fascinating as well.

No wood anemone could be accused of being flamboyant but one, a. n. Vestal, is a always eye–catching. Without doubt this is the creme de la creme since there is hardly a flower anywhere to compare with the immaculate whiteness of her flowers. A ring of flat petals supports a cascade of slender petalloid bracts.

In common with so many double flowers, a. n. Vestal is sterile, no seed is produced, so the flowers continue to look pristine for weeks, unlike single–flowered varieties whose petals fall soon after pollination.

A. n. Alba Plena is similar but its central petals are longer, losing some of the perfect balance of Vestal. If you need big pure white flowers then go for a. n. Leeds Variety, which is simple in look but big on impact.

Blue is one of the colours of spring and there are several named blue–flowered selections, each one of which is claimed by its devotees to be the best blue.

A. n. Blue Bonnet is neat and dark, Royal Blue is taller. There is a. n. Atrocaerulea and, while a. n. Bowles Purple has a deep violet reverse, its interior is definitely blue.

Perhaps the most wistful of all the blue forms is a. n. Robinsoniana. It is subtle, refined and I wish I had oodles of it.

Maybe one day I will.



CREME DE LA CREME Eye–catching anemone nemorosa Vestal

PLANTING OUT Time to transfer anemone nemorosa

COLOURED UP Wild flowers bask in the sunshine on a bank near Glebe Cottage
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 23, 2014
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