'See ! yon anemones their leaves unfold, With rubies flaming, and with living gold.'
The Turkish Poet, Mesihi.
THE Japanese Anemone is so much esteemed that we may just note that it can be increased by planting almost any severed piece of its root; but it ranks more with Herbaceous Plants than with Bulbous. Its tall pink, white, or deep rosy flowers look glorious, however, rising in thick ranks at the back of the bulb borders, or it might well be used for centre height in Bulb beds.
Anemone coronaria is the florist's anemone that has been bred and bred till the range of colours has become wonderful, and the blossoms now attain dimensions that would have astounded old gardeners. There are French, Irish, Dutch, Double and Single, to be bought in mixture, or in separate colours for bedding, or by specially named varieties.
The usual method of culture is to plant the tubers in October, in well enriched sunny ground, 2 or 3 inches deep, and 6 inches apart. This is excellent, as far as it goes, but I happen to have devoted special study to growing Anemone coronaria, and can say that, though it is a very easy flower to grow, some failures are almost bound to result unless care is taken that the soil never dries hard, and the blooms will not be what they might be unless more manure is supplied, from above ground, as the buds form and colour.
It is rare to find an Anemone bed without some gaps in it. Individual plants sicken and die off, and the cultivator says, 'Ah, those wireworms again!' But, probably, the tubers have come in contact with crude or too-fresh manure, or else have exhausted all the moisture their rootlets can obtain. Sometimes the plants yellow, go limp and decay, after all the leaves have grown and the buds are arising. That, I believe, is when they have been reduced to a starvation diet. Just as flowers and foliage in a vase must die soon - (the blooms possibly because it is their ro1e to create seed, then pass, but not so the leaves) - the Anemone plants succumb because water, from the skies or the can, and mere earth, does not nourish them enough. They are gross feeders. I like to make beds of equal parts of loam and old cow-manure, half parts each of sand and leaf-mould, and, even then, I mulch with more of the manure, and hop manure, at budding time, sprinkle fertiliser and give soot-water often as flowers open.
Anemone coronaria, when cultivated like that, has no gaps in the beds, and the blossoms thrown are superb in texture, thickness, duration, colour, and size.
Directly tubers have been planted, 2 inches deep in heavy or ordinary soil, 3 inches in sandy or gravelly places, mulch over with 3 more inches of leaf-mould. Don't pat it into a firm cake, but just throw it on as a light loose wrap.
Then plant the tubers in October by all means, but do not omit to plant others in any, or every, month of the year somewhere and somehow. I can guarantee the possibility of having the flower in every month - aye, in every week. Plant it in dells where it will not feel the winds that check it, windflower though men call it, put it on the warm slopes of banks, in the cosiest nooks of rockeries, in July and August, and it will bloom in October and November. Later batches should be budding freely in December and January. If there are hard frosts and snow, do not worry, but mulch the Anemone beds again, heavily, with coco-nut-fibre refuse and leaf-mould, till you have to grope to find the youngest foliage. I have gathered bud bouquets from under deep snow, and watched every bud unfurl to a perfect flower in bowls indoors. Plant in January and gather in May. Plant in March and have Anemones in summer. Plant in pots, too, window-boxes, urns, tubs, by the waterside, in fairly open glades of the wood, and in the kitchen-garden lavishly - between the old gooseberry bushes if nowhere else - to gain sheaves for house decoration.
Anemone tubers can be stored in air-tight tins, in cold cellars, till they are wanted; by soaking them eighteen hours in water, tepid at first, then stood in a genial temperature, they can be persuaded to swell out at any season, and the next stage is sprouting. They are cheap 'bulbs,' too.
St. Brigid. Semi-double.
Giant French. Single, or Double, or Mixed.
King of Scarlets. Lord Nelson. Blue. Rose de Nice. Pale pink. L'Eclair. Vermilion.
Anemone coronaria seed is like woolly thistledown, so is mixed with moist sand before being sown, lest the winds scatter it afar. A prepared bed in the open garden should be exceedingly fine on the surface, and perfectly level: rich it ought to be, yet sandy too, and no manure but the oldest should be in it. Compost, applied through a fine sieve, must only just cover in the seed. Sheets of brown paper, damped, and weighted at the edges with stones, should cover the whole bed until growth appears. Seed can be kept, if desired, but quickest results are from seed used when ripe, in May or June. Where the baby Anemones appear there must they grow and mature, so waterings and weedings need to be carefully carried out. There may be a few flowers in October, but the next spring a real show will rejoice the grower, though it will not be till months later that the finest blossoms will be discovered. 'Doubles' are not likely to appear double at first. The seed-raised Anemones will not demand lifting and division until the fourth or fifth year, but the bulb-planted Anemones are best raised always as soon as dying-down has occurred after blossoming, the tubers then being stored for awhile before being used again.