Friday, 4 September 2015


Chris bought a bunch of anemones several months ago (2 February). Those available at florists in late winter are usually forms of the Crown Anemone, Anemone coronaria. This species, which is found commonly in the eastern Mediterranean region and through the Middle East, is very variable in colour but is, within my experience, most commonly red or pink.

Anemone coronaria in a Daventry florist's window

Anemones, aka windflowers (Anemos was the Greek word for wind, not to be confused with flatulos) are members of the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae, and had the petals on the flower to the right been yellow, the relationship would have been obvious.

Anemone pavonina near Gythio in the Greek
Peloponesse. Spring, 2014

In the spring of 2014 Chris and I visited Greece and were based at Gythio, in the Peloponesse. There we found anemones in many places but they were overwhelmingly specimens of Anemone pavonina. Their petals are more numerous and more pointed than A. coronaria, giving them a starry appearance. 

Anemone coronaria 'Bordeaux' in a Byfield garden, 2014

Anemone coronaria in particular has been used by breeders to produce some gorgeous garden plants with the velvety blooms of Anemone coronaria 'Bordeaux' being of particular beauty. But I would guess that A. pavonina genes are in there somewhere

Only one species of Anemone is native to Britain (unless you wish to include the Pasque Flower, Pulsatilla vulgaris, which was once classified as an anemone) and that is Anemone nemorosa. In respect of Northamptonshire Gill Gent and Rob Wilson write 'It is probably more common now than for any time in the past sixty years'. (Gent and Wilson, 2012, 'The Flora of Northamptonshire and the Soke of Peterborough').

I cannot possibly do justice to this genus. According to my copy of 'Flora of the British Isles' by Clapham, Tutin and Warburg, (2nd edition, 1962) it contains about 120 species. A check today of Wikipedia also suggests about 120 species, so it seems there are few new Anemones to be found. 

Anemone hupehensis, Doll's Hill, Byfield,
Northants. 4 September, 2015

Having said that, there is one species which must be mentioned, and that is 'Anemone hupehensis'. It originates from central China but is generally associated with Japan, where it has been cultivated for hundreds of years.

For an anemone it is very tall, and the examples photographed, in the garden of my friend Nell Thomas, were a little over a metre high. Strictly speaking most of our garden plants are hybrids (Anemone hupehensis x A. vitifolia) but whatever, they are lovely plants for the border, made particularly valuable flowering so late in the year, taking us through to autumn.

I have no anemones in my garden. This situation cannot be allowed to go on!

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