All hail the return of the windflower
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All hail the return of the windflower

A POND locally now boasts a duvet of Marsh Marigolds (Caltha palustris) over its slick surface and on the sloping margins Celandine is spreading brazenly as ever.

Both flower in a shade of lemon that never fails to capture the eye of the observer.

Further up the margin where drainage is better there are expanding carpets of wood anemone and primroses, essential constituents of the spring tapestry now present in all shady borders.

Some are garden treasures, but one must be careful, for they move and wander about at will, to emerge all too often between stout perennials and bold shrubs.

They may harmonise with everything in the borders (and clash with nothing it seems) but take care all the same.

These are archetypal shade lovers and can be used to introduce spring to the shadowy corners of any garden.

Opportunists through and through, they colonise freely, and the smallest piece of rhizome will rapidly make a new plant.

The wood anemone (A. nemerosa) I treasure for their simplicity, brightness of white blossom, and ability to bloom despite adverse weather conditions.

No wonder their common name is The Windflower.

As shallow dwellers they have roots like brown twigs that run just beneath the surface of the soil.

Easy to divide at any time of the year, yet the optimum time is when their leaves are dying down in late spring.

Tease the tangle of brittle roots apart and lay each piece flat in well-prepared soil about two inches deep.

They are content in acid or alkaline soils and even in full sun provided they do not become too dry in summer. Avoid over-wet conditions.

The most captivating of all the wood anemones is still the lavender blue A nemerosa ‘Robinsoniana, which achieved an Award of Merit by the RHS some years ago.

Incidentally, it originated in Ireland.

Other, taller forms of anemone, those sold as ‘De Caen’ and ‘Saint Brigid’ are ideal as cut flower subjects usually offered for sale about now under the Anemone coronaria label.

I would urge you to search for these this month and to plant them immediately in sunny areas.

Given warm and sheltered positions, and well-drained soil they will not alone bloom magnificently but increase steadily.

In slightly damper soil, protection may be needed during winter or they may not spread as you would like.

Then, when the days lengthen further and warming breezes tempt the honeybees to forage among the apple blossom, these Mediterranean anemones will shine out in deep magenta, purple and scarlet.

Time brings change of course, and today, they seem to be available in more subtle tones, whilst remaining in total contrast to the paler, watery shades of their woodland cousins. Try a few.