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Anemone territory; The wood anemone is one of the most beautiful of our wild plants... and soon countless flowers will hold their heads aloft. When the sun shines from a clear spring sky, suddenly the woodland floor is transformed.

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 but I know that soon their new shoots will come inquisitively through the ground, wrapped around the new buds, which soon afterwards will open into 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 wild 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, another plant comes to the fore, under the leafless trees.

Walk past on a gloomy day in early April and leaf litter and moss are all you can see. But wood anemones hang their heads, petals furled tightly to protect precious pollen.

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

NECTAR Countless white flowers hold their heads aloft, petals outstretched to the warmth and light, and 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, which occurs 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. Inside they are delightfully pure and pristine white. Although there are more than 40 selections of wood anemone listed, none of them quite surpasses the simple beauty of the species. One of the wood anemones I love 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 - its white flowers are tinged with green. Always an attractive spring combination, these two anemones are fascinating as well.

No wood anemone could ever be accused of being flamboyant but one, 'Vestal', never fails to be an eye-catcher.

CASCADE Without doubt, this is the creme de la creme since there is hardly a flower anywhere to compare with the immaculate whiteness of hers. A ring of flat petals supports a cascade of slender petalloid bracts. In common with so many double flowers 'Vestal' is sterile. No seed is produced so the flowers continue to look pristine for weeks, unlike the single-flowered varieties whose petals begin to fall soon after they''re pollinated.

The variety '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 'Leeds Variety', which is simple, but impactful.

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. nemorosa 'Blue Bonnet' is neat and dark, 'Royal Blue'' is taller.

There is also 'Atrocaerulea' and while 'Bowles Purple' has a deep violet reverse, its interior is definitely blue.

Perhaps the most wistful of all the many blue forms is A. nemorosa 'Robinsoniana'. It is subtle, refined and I wish I had oodles of it.

Maybe one day I will. Soon they''ll push up wiry stems with lacy leaves wrapped round infant buds
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Mar 22, 2014
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