In the plant world there seems to be a cut off line just below areas where winter temperatures go below -20c(-5f). Many plants might survive but slowly die. I grew up below the cut off line and therefore many plants only existed for me in magazines or books. How I longed to live in a more gentle climate and be able to grow things like many of the Roses, Hostas and Anemones. When I came to live near Vancouver I was able to to do this. One of the first places I worked at was a wholesale grower of perennials and I was able to see greenhouses full of my new favorite plants. One plant that catches my eye every year is the delicate ‘Japanese Anemones‘, (Anemone x hybrida) which are made up of a group of crosses and some varieties.
The first Japanese Anemones are actually found in central and western China (Hubei into Sichuan and into Yunnan provinces). Hubie province gives it’s name to this species Anemone hupehensis. It’s flowers are variable in color ranging from white through pale pink into a pinkish purple. From hupehensis there is a form var. japonica which is much darker pink. From this variety there is a famous double form “Prinz Heinrich’(‘Prince Henry’) which is the most commonly seen member of the ‘hupehenis’ group. Anemone hupehenis var japonica ‘Prinz Heinrich’ is a striking double dark color. It opens a very deep cerise pink and fades slightly with ages. It is the first of the true doubles and has up to 20 narrow petals. it was raised in 1902.
The next group of Japanese Anemones are the the true crosses between species hupehensis var. japonica, vitifolia and possibly tomentosa. Many named plants have come on to the market and have later been reclassified as related to species or have been previously named. The key provided at the bottom is most useful to sort these issues out. There are several well know named cultivars from this group which have diverse flower colors and forms. The first and most famous is Anemone x Honorine Jobert’, a single white which was introduced to the world in 1858 which also makes it the oldest. It was found in the garden if M. Jobert who lived in Verdun, France.
Often the first Japanese Anemone we meet in gardens is a single pink which is likely to be Anemone x hybrida ‘September Charm’. It is a relatively late arrival coming to the plant world from Bristol Nurseries in 1932. It’s exact parentage is unknown at this time.
Anemone x hybrida ‘Whirlwind is an older double white true Japanese Anemone. It originated in Rochester, New York and was introduced in 1887 by James Vick. It is somwhat variable in it’s petal count and form. The flowers usually have about 20 narrow sometimes twisted pure white petals.
Japanese Anemone are very vigorous plants once they are established which may take several years. They tolerate almost any soil as long as it is not saturated with water. They bloom best in full sun but also give a good show in shadier places which makes them very versatile for garden designing purposes. Japanese Anemone flowers are held fairly high above their foliage making these plants great for deep in flower borders and dotted amongst shorter shrubs. They have attractive foliage which has few pests or diseases. One often sees these plants growing in large patches because they spread by roots, this can be a problem if they are included in a design which is too structured. these platns are generally rated at tolerating -20c(-5f) or zone 5-9. You can assume that your plant once established will take up a 3ft(1m) space. they grow to be about 1-1.5m(3-4ft) high.
More on Japanese Anemones:
A key to unscrambling Japanese Anemones: http://www.rhs.org.uk/plants/plant_groups/Key_jap_anemones.asp
How to grow these wonderful plants: http://www.bbc.co.uk/gardening/plants/plantprofile_anemones.shtml
Until We Meet Again….