Japanese Anemones

‘I thought anenomes were spring flowers’, said my friend. ‘Yes and No,’ I started, but my friend deserves a considered response, although he probably didn’t expect the following!

Anenome 'Hadspen Abundance', mid-August 2013
Anemone ‘Hadspen Abundance’, mid-August 2013

This wonderful perennial has the RHS Award of Garden Merit. The spring leaves are deeply veined, the buds entice in June and July, the flowers are beautiful in August and September (and drive the bees crazy!), and the flower heads are striking in the autumn – what a generous plant!

It belongs to the Ranunculaceae family – ‘.. is a family of about 1700 species of flowering plants in about 60 genera, distributed worldwide. The largest genera are Ranunculus (600), Delphinium (365), Thalictrum (330), Clematis (325), and Aconitum (300 species)..’.

The anenome ‘..a genus of about 120 species of flowering plants in the family Ranunculaceae, native to the temperate zones..’.

So, when we associate ‘anenomes’ with Spring we are thinking of bulbs which produce garden flowers like these, or perhaps wood anenomes –

Anenome de Caen mix, Anglia Bulb Company
Anemone de Caen mix, Anglia Bulb Company
Anenome Vestal, Anglia Bulb Company
Anemone Vestal, Anglia Bulb Company

So where does my plant fit in? This post explained the confusing name: ‘  The term Japanese anemone is misleading. A. hupehensis is actually a native of Hupeh province in eastern China, but it was grown in Japanese gardens for centuries, hence the confusion. Robert Fortune (1812-1880) introduced it into Europe in 1844, having apparently discovered it running between the tombstones in a Shanghai graveyard. It was one of several long-lived, ethereal plants used to commemorate the dead..’. And ‘..This distinctive plant reaches 90cm (3ft) tall [mine are closer to 5ft!] and was discovered at Hadspen House [a controversial garden] in Somerset in the late 1970s by plantsman Eric Smith. Beth Chatto was the first person to list it, in about 1980. It’s unusual because the flowers are made up of two smaller dark-pink petals and three slightly larger, paler ones, set against dark foliage..’. I bought from a reputable plantsman and so I am sure I have this plant, although the colour seems to fade quite quickly

Anenome Hupehensis 'Hadspen Abundance'
Anemone Hupehensis ‘Hadspen Abundance’

And then there is Anenome x Hybrida: ‘..Also filed under the name of Japanese anemone is A. x hybrida, first found growing at the Chiswick Garden of the RHS in 1848. It is thought to be a natural hybrid between A. elegans, A. vitifolia and A. hupehensis..’. I have Anenome x Hybrida Tomentosa ‘Robustissima’ which is very vigorous. This was apparently a seedling raised by Lemoine in 1900.

Anenome x Hybrida Tomentosa 'Robustissima'
Anemone x Hybrida Tomentosa ‘Robustissima’

And finally, ‘..The elegant A. x hybrida ‘Honorine Jobert’ has neat, white flowers with a boss of golden-yellow stamens set round a green, pin-eyed centre..’.

Anenome x Hybrida 'Honorine Joubert'
Anemone x Hybrida ‘Honorine Joubert’

So what have I learned from these three plants in my small garden?

  • ‘Hadspen Abundance’ deserves an AGM Award of Merit, and will do well if staked, fed in the spring, and watered. It also increases generously and I would love to grow this in London
  • ‘Tomentosa Robustissima’ is slightly shorter, and perhaps slightly less prolific in flowering, but certainly robust and spreading! (And needs the same care as above.)
  • ‘Honorine Jobert’ is very beautiful but it isn’t flourishing in the same way as the other two, and this may be my fault; I think it is swamped by the sedums and hellebores and I may have to move the plants in the Autumn or Spring, although this seems to be a dangerous undertaking

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