Wood Anemones (Anemone nemorosa) are the gems of many deciduous woodlands in early Spring producing a carpet of starry white flowers, sometimes tinged with pink or blue. The dainty flowers are held above a bed of lacey green leaves, producing the perfect backdrop.
They grow from creeping rhizomes, looking rather like dandelion roots, but they run horizontally, just beneath the surface. In places, the rhizomes congregate and form little balls in the soil. Large expanses of Wood Anemones can indicate an ancient woodland.
They are members of the buttercup family (Ranunculus) and are native to most parts of Northern Europe, coming into growth and flowering under deciduous trees before the tree leaves open. Any sunlight permeates through the bare branches and allows the leaves to grow and the flowers to open - they stubbornly refuse to open on dull or rainy days!
Wood Anemones are surprisingly versatile in the garden - they prefer part-sun/part-shade and soil that does not dry too much, and they adore a layer of leaf litter on the surface.
We send our Anemones out as growing rhizomes in 9cm pots which keeps them fresh and plump – dried rhizomes can be a little ‘hit and miss’ as they dry out so very quickly, often withering and dying. Plant the pots in the garden to them same level as the surface of the pot, and scatter a little leaf litter on the top. Feeding is not essential, but a dusting of organic feed will help them to establish.
The clumps are slow to establish so have patience. They can be divided one the clumps are large enough but really prefer to be left alone. I normally divide shortly after flowering finishes, pulling clumps apart as gently as possible.
They also grow surprisingly well in 12 to 15cm (5-6”) pots provide you keep them in shade and moist for most of the year, I bring them into a slightly sunnier space only when they flower.