Name: Certainly the exception rather than the rule, the name of Japanese anemone is both descriptive and accurate, for this is an anemone species and it came originally from Japan.

Botanical name: Anemone x hybrida. The name anemone is derived from Greek for a wind flower and seedheads are foamy and blow about. It is part of the clematis, or buttercup, family, the Ranunculaceae.

Garden value

The simple open flowers of the Japanese anemone are graceful and elegant, carried on tall, slender stalks. The pea-sized flower buds are arranged in uneven whorls near the top of the stalk and they open in sequence over many weeks.

When the flower petals fall, the seed head obliges by also being of rounded shape, so the whole structure fits together nicely, never losing its remarkable grace. The foliage is vine-like and a little rough. It stays below knee-height and therefore is not much seen. It has the advantage of being evergreen which is always a bonus with a perennial flower since it provides some bulk at soil level in winter, and resists weeds very well.

The ordinary pink form, Anemone x hybrida, is the most widely grown. It was a hybrid between a Chinese species and a Japanese species during the last century and it quickly became popular. It is easily grown from divisions of the roots or even bits of the suckering roots. Named selections have been bred over the years. One of the most striking is ‘Hadspen Abundance’ with deep raspberry-red colour, a much richer colour than the common pale pink. The petals have a edging in pinkish white which serves to highlight the raspberry colour and set the plants off from a distance. A similar rich smoky pink colour is carried by ‘Prinz Heinrich’, a lovely variety with semi-double flowers by comparison with the singles.

Lovely pale colours have been selected too. ‘September Charm’ has lovely pale pink flowers with a touch of cream, larger than the common form and with slightly more cupped petals. A bit darker, though still pale, is ‘Konigin Charlotte’; it has a shading of purple-pink rather than the soft salmon pink. It has more petals also, giving it a fuller look. The white form is truly beautiful with clear white flowers held against silvery flower buds, over dark green foliage and with a lively golden yellow eye at the centre of the flower. The most common white variety is ‘Honorine Jobert’, an old variety. Very similar with larger flowers is ‘Luise Uhink’, although the petals hang back off the flower and are not as attractive as the somewhat more cupped shape of ‘Honorine Jobert’.

Growing anemone

Any of these varieties, or a few others that might turn up, could be planted in a flower border or mixed border. The Japanese anemone fits in fine with shrubs, being vigorous and tolerating some light shading. It is probably best set back from the front because, when not in flower, the foliage is a little dull for a prominent place. However, the Japanese anemone is a plant that can be placed on its own to fill awkward corners, which it will do admirably and deal with what ever competition comes its way. It has to be said that this plant is a spreader and this factor has been held against it perhaps. But it only spreads into ground where there is no serious competition. If it is planted with shrubs around, or equally robust perennials, it will not be a problem. In fact, it is hard to imagine how such as beautiful flower could possibly become a nuisance.

Garden to-do list

Take geranium cuttings

Pink geranium.

If you have good geraniums growing in pots or in flower beds, it is possible to take cuttings now to raise plants for next year. In a month’s time, frost will blacken geraniums in all but the mildest areas and the plants will not be worth retaining.

If you take cuttings now, the rooted plants will be easy to keep over winter in little pots in a greenhouse or window sill indoors. The young plants can be potted up next spring into two litre pots to make excellent plants for planting out in May. While cuttings of geraniums can be taken at any time, early August to late September is good.

This week’s reminders

Trees, shrubs and roses

Trees and shrubs were just beginning to come under pressure from drought in midsummer when some heavy showers headed off the danger. Now after several weeks of mixed weather, some of these have already begun to produce secondary growth.


Prevent weeds from going to seed in flower beds and borders. Plant spring bulbs as soon as possible – the fresher they are going into the ground, the better they will flower. Take cuttings of tender plants such as geraniums, marguerites, fuchsias and argyranthemums.


Grass benefited from the increased breakdown of organic matter in the soil and the release of natural nitrogen. Continue mowing regularly. Prepare now for sowing new lawn areas, or re-sowing this month or next. Keep edges neat around beds and borders.

Greenhouse and house plants

Tidy up the greenhouse now and do not overwater or splash water about. As the nights grow cooler, grey mould disease becomes a problem for many greenhouse plants and good hygiene is the best way. Continue to train tomatoes, and allow existing fruit to develop.

Fruit, vegetables and herbs

Clear away any over-mature vegetables to the compost heap but not if they are diseased, bury these instead. Do not let weeds go to seed now to avoid building up trouble for years to come. Raspberry and tayberry canes that have finished fruiting could be pruned out.

Read more

In the garden with Gerry Daly: minty monarda

In the garden with Gerry Daly: amazing aloe