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Delicate but Dynamic

This article was first published on 22 Sep 2014.

Anemone x lipsiensis

Anemone x lipsiensis

Fresh new growth and colour are appearing from every corner at the moment. At ground level the feathery leaves of woodland anemone are appearing across large swathes of ground.

The most common and vigorous species, the European Anemone nemorosa, thrives in moist, well-drained soil and partial shade typical of most woodland gardens. Above ground it has slender 15 to 30cm stems and finely divided leaves which appear in a carpet around the woody trees and shrubs overhead. Sitting above the foliage, the starry white flowers have yellow centres and en masse, brighten up the woodland understory delightfully.

Although anemones look delicate, this is deceptive because below ground they have fleshy, quite brittle rhizomes. These advance through the soil in an interlocking mat that can engulf small shrubs and more delicate herbaceous plants. However, their delicate effect fits those areas of the garden that do contain more dainty treasures, so it is a pity to exclude them.

The solution is to choose a less vigorous form, so in the peat garden in Dunedin Botanic Garden’s Rhododendron Dell I have planted A ×lipsiensis (previously A. ×seemanii). A. ×lipsiensis, is a hybrid between A. nemorosa and A. ranunculoides. The latter is a less invasive, small, bright yellow species which in the wild grows in association with A. nemorosa and often hybridises naturally with it. The result is A.×lipsiensis, similar in appearance but with pale yellow flowers and more respect for its neighbours.