“ Japanese anemones give borders a welcome boost in late summer and early autumn. 'Honorine Jobert' is a particularly choice variety with white, single flowers, tinged with pink on the underside of the petals. Its fine qualities have won it the prestigious Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society. It enjoys well-drained soil in sun or partial shade. Mulch around the plants each year, and be prepared to lift and divide clumps if they spread beyond their bounds. „
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As July moves into August and the days of summer are coming to an end the garden can begin to lose a lot of its colour. The riot of high summer colour is gone and before the blazing reds and golds of autumn there can often be something of a colour gap. The perfect plant to fill that gap is the late summer flowering Japanese Anemone. With its nodding white or pink cup-shaped flowers each with a bright golden eye and lasting for several weeks before giving way to the showy Michaelmas Daisies, Rudbeckias and Golden Rod and the splendours of autumn foliage, this perennial more than pays its way in the garden. Although Anemone Hupehensis var. Japonica, to give it its full title, was discovered a century earlier, it wasn't until the mid-nineteenth century that the Japanese Anemone was introduced to British gardens and it's remained a firm favourite ever since, largely for its long flowering season which bridges the gap between summer and autumn providing the garden with some much needed colour. Japanese Anemones belong to the rather large ranunculacea family which encompasses a wide variety of plants including buttercups, clematis and hellebores. The leaves are a rather dull dark green and roughly palmate in shape, almost like a vine leaf, which grow in threes. They remain generally at the base of the plant and the flowers are born on tall stems sometimes reaching around 3 or 4 feet in height. Although fairly simple in shape, the five petalled flowers are distinctive not only for their height but also for the bright golden stamens at the centre of the flower forming an eye. The colour palette is fairly limited being pink or white, though the pink format varies from deep rose to the very palest pink. This is a hardy perennial plant so the leaves will die back in very cold winters but they frequently remain throughout milder winters or if the plant is growing in a particularly sheltered spot. Here in the south east, the leaves tend to remain all winter with very little die back at all. I don't wish to regurgitate long paragraphs of botanical information which can easily be looked up for yourselves on various gardening websites so I'll merely give you details of my experience of growing these very pretty plants. Like most of the older and well established plants in my garden, the Japanese Anemones were acquired from my parents' garden in north west England and they've been happily thriving now for a good thirty years down in Berkshire. If you're buying from a nursery, it's probably best to make sure it's one local to you which means that the plants are used to the climate in your area or if buying mail order, a good rule of thumb is 'buy north, plant south'. You should expect to pay anything from £5 to £8 for a well established plant grown in a 2 litre pot or probably a good deal less if buying through eBay. Having said that, these plants are a staple in many gardens and I'm sure you can probably sweet-talk someone into giving you a cutting from their plant. Japanese Anemones are definitely one of the easiest plants to grow as they are quite content with either a sunny or partially shady situation and they really don't care in which direction the sun comes or indeed whether there's a lot of sun or merely dappled through. The only thing they don't enjoy is having wet feet so it's not a good idea to plant them in very boggy areas of the garden. Propagation is an absolute doddle. The plant propagates itself through runners, so just pull up new baby plants and either pot up or stick 'em straight into the soil, water, stand back and watch them romp away. I should issue a word of warning here that if the Japanese Anemones are in their ideal situation they can get a little out of hand and become very nearly invasive. It's easy enough to hoof out new growth though and dispose of it. Although the leaves aren't particularly unattractive, neither are they stunningly beautiful so this plant does best in the middle of the border where its rather ordinary leaves can hide behind more showy plants and yet still allow the flowers to be seen for the six or so weeks of the year when they bloom. There are several named varieties to choose from mainly in the pink form, the best of which, in my opinion, is 'Elegans' which is a bluish purple pink with distinctive orange stamens. However, my favourite and to my mind the most attractive of all the varieties is 'Honorine Jobert', which has a beautiful cool white flower with a gorgeous golden centre. (It's the one pictured at the top of the review.) All of the Japanese Anemones are attractive to bees and hover flies. They also make good cut flowers though, personally, I prefer to see my flowers blooming in the garden where they will have a far longer life. If these plants have any problems with pests or diseases, I've not come across them yet. As I said, my original clump of pink Japanese Anemones have been established for over thirty years now without ever falling prey to any slugs, snails or nasty diseases and my 'Honorine Jobert' and 'Elegans' clumps are both well established and, again, have not been troubled by any pests. For anyone wishing to grow a plant which will provide colour in late summer and early autumn and that will establish itself quickly without giving any problem, look no further than this unassuming but very attractive perennial. It's a five star performer.