FLOWER OF LOVE; Carol has adored the sight and scent of anemones since she was a little girl, when she would buy her mum a bunch for Mother's Day.
I've fallen in love with many plants.
At times my excitement about some of them may have waned as a new infatuation has taken over but, once smitten, I have never fallen out of love completely.
Often the flames are reignited when you see your old favourites in someone else's garden. Sometimes you've lost the plant entirely and long to grow it again.
Perhaps it is a whole family of plants that you feel you must have to grace your garden.
For me, one such clan is the anemones. There are anemones for shade and for sun, anemones that flower early in the spring and some that wait until the autumn to make a late display.
Almost all have single flowers with a boss of golden stamens at their heart. In the shops now are bunches of anemone coronaria in vivid reds, purples and blues. They have been popular as cut flowers for decades.
As children, my brothers and I would put our pocket money together and buy our mum a bunch of anemones for Valentine's Day or Mothering Sunday.
I can still remember the sight and smell of the inside of the florist's shop where we lived. Big slate counters dripping with water, leaves stripped from stems and green vases all around full to overflowing with brilliant flowers and foliage, asparagus fern and pittisporum.
The smell was the thing though - scents and aromas are always the most evocative. The sweet perfume of early daffodils just in from Cornwall and the Scilly Isles - Soleil d'Or and Paperwhites mingling with the spicy, musky smell of chrysanths.
My mum was always delighted with her anemones. They are very cheap to grow and easy too, though they need ample warmth.
Growing the corms in pots, planted up in gritty soil, should give you flowers in February. Corms grown outside should yield flowers in March or April.
Another of my mum's favourite anemones was the wood anemone, anemone nemorosa. It has simplicity and, despite its short stature, is graceful, even elegant. One of our most widely distributed wild flowers, you'll find it carpeting woodland floors from the north of Scotland to the south of Cornwall.
Anemone means 'daughter of the wind' and one of its common names is 'windflower'. When skies are sullen, its flowers remain tight shut, the pinky-grey on the reverse of their petals or sepals camouflaging them.
As soon as the sun shines, they open wide - the perfect plant to enliven a bare patch of soil under a tree or shrub. Since it has evolved with tree roots, it feels perfectly at home among them.
There are different varieties from which to choose, some pale blue, some pink, but none more beautiful than our native plant. They are so seasonal that most garden centres won't stock them but you can visit a specialist nursery or order them from a good bulb merchant like Avon Bulbs.
Here you'll find some of the other lovely members of the anemone bunch. Anemone rivularis with blue backs to its white flowers, or anemone blanda - cheap, cheerful and charming in a variety of colours - and the Japanese anemones which save themselves until autumn.
Most Japanese anemones actually come from China but have been grown in Japan for centuries. They're easy to grow, extremely accommodating and last indefinitely once established, making bigger and bigger clumps.
They're so successful, some gardeners deem them a nuisance. I never could. To see a host of the white-flowered Anemone 'Honorine Jobert' in the fading light of a September evening is a treat never to be forgotten.
RUNNING WILD A carpet of wood anemones
BLUE BELLES Anemone coronaria 'Mr Fokker'
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|Publication:||Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)|
|Date:||Feb 28, 2016|
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