A blanket of Flowers
Common Name: wood anemone, European windflower
Botanical Name: Anemone nemorosa
Form: low and spreading
Plant Type: herbaceous perennial
Mature Size: 6”-10” x 18”
Origin: Turkey, Europe, Great Britain
Hardiness Zone: 5 to 8
Foliage: 3 (trifoliate), deeply divided, fern-like, soft, green, they dieback in summer
Flowers: borne on short upright stems, 1½” wide, 5 to 8 petal-like sepals around yellow stamens circling green stigmas, colours and shapes depend on cultivar and variety, Feb to May
Roots: spreads by underground creeping rhizomes
Exposure: sun to shade
Soil: humus-rich, moist, well-drained
Uses: woodlands, naturalizes, ground cover, garden borders
Propagation: divide rhizomes when plants are dormant in summer, 2" deep x 6-8" apart
Problems: may spread where you don’t want it to go, pest free
Wood anemones, also referred to as European and woodland windflowers, create drifts of starry flowers in spring, among leafless woodland trees. Originally from Great Britain, Europe and Turkey, they now enjoyed in gardens around the world.
Flowering begins in early spring as other plants are just waking up. There are many types of anemones, but this species, the nemorosa species, is celebrated for its ability to grow and spread naturally among trees.
Woodland windflowers open-up and magically track the sun on sunny days (heliotropic), and then close when it’s cloudy. They are tolerant of sun and shade but don’t like hot afternoon sun nor too much shade. Too much sun shortens their flowering period, and they may not flower if there’s too much shade.
These dainty little plants evoke images of flower fairies alighting on their graceful nodding blossoms. The flowers rise above the deep green lacy, finely cut, soft green leaves. Flower shapes and colour vary depending on the variety and cultivar. There’s star shaped, poppy-like and even one that resembles a powder puff. Some are blushed with pink or mauve, but they are generally a crisp bright white.
As quickly as they mysteriously arise out of the ground in spring, they die-back in summer. This strategy helps them survive summer droughts. Because they are a woodland plant, they prefer a rich soil and an organic mulch – similar to a forest floor. Improve sandy and nutrient poor soils with compost, well-rotted manure or SeaSoil, then top it off with 3 inches of mulch.
Wood anemones spread underground through small slender rhizomes that resemble stubby twigs. They multiply readily, especially when disturbed. Digging them up or planting something else in their space (which is usually done unknowingly while they are dormant), breaks up existing rhizomes, which makes even more plants. They are not considered troublesome since they go dormant in the summer and are pretty and short, so no one seems to mind.
Wood anemones naturalize readily, therefore they are perfect for woodland gardens, but they are also suitable for urban gardens. They offer a bright and temporary wonderful carpet of flowers for under trees, along borders, in rockeries – anywhere where you want the flower fairies to visit.