Thursday, September 27, 2018

Fall Plant Sale Preview: Anemones

Anemone x hybrida 'Honorine Jobert'. Photo by Beth Hall.
By Katherine Hale

Well-known favorites like asters, chrysanthemums and goldenrod have their place in the fall garden, but few can compare with the stately Anemone × hybrida ‘Honorine Jobert’, a hybrid Japanese anemone that begins to bloom in late August here at Duke Gardens. First discovered by chance in a French garden in the 1850s, ‘Honorine Jobert’ is an established classic at the Gardens, most notably in the Walker Dillard Kirby Perennial Allée. There, you’ll find a stunning and unexpected surprise—a massive profusion of 2-inch blooms that resemble giant buttercups emerging out of knee-high mounds of feathery green foliage.

Anemone 'Prince Heinrich'.
Photo by Chris Holaday.
The white petals (actually sepals) around a sunny yellow center (the true flowers) attract bees and butterflies, as well as anyone in the mood for something different as the seasons change. Flower arrangers love the tall stems and long vase life of the flowers, and their color and elegance make them a popular choice for fall bouquets and weddings. If allowed to remain on the plant, the blooms will linger through October, amazing longevity in a season in whic so many other species are past their prime.

With a plant as ethereal as ‘Honorine Jobert’, it’s hard to have just one.  Fortunately, they work best when planted in dense clusters, resulting in a jaw-dropping collection of flowers when grouped en masse. Isolated plants may need staking and support to show off their blooms to best effect, but plants in larger groups tend to support each other while simultaneously suppressing weeds with their shady foliage.

Anemone 'Königin Charlotte'.
Photo: C. Holaday.
Though ‘Honorine Jobert’ is by far the most popular variety, there are hundreds of anemone options for the discerning gardener. Other fall-blooming Japanese hybrids, ‘Königin Charlotte’ (Queen Charlotte) and ‘Prince Heinrich’, are appropriately named for royalty and boast large, semi-double blossoms in various shades of pink. There’s also the elegant Anemone Wild Swan, with prolific white flowers with lilac stripes on their backs. Unlike the fall flowering Japanese anemones, this A. rupicola hybrid starts blooming in late spring and continues through first frost.

Native plant gardeners aren’t left out of the fun: there’s the Canada anemone (A. canadensis), a showy spring bloomer found in moist floodplains and riverbanks throughout the East Coast, and its cousin, tall anemone (A. virginiana), which occupies a more upland habitat.

Anemone 'Wild Swan'.
Photo: B. Hall.
Regardless of which anemone strikes your fancy, some basic ground rules will help ensure their long-term survival. Anemones love moist but well-drained soil that is never allowed to dry out; they can tolerate full sun, but their delicate leaves will burn in the summer heat unless planted under a shady canopy with protection from drying winds. While they are slow to establish in the beginning, healthy plants will freely naturalize over time via underground rhizomes, expanding the patch still further.  Anemones are an excellent choice for woodland or cottage gardens, contrasting nicely with the blooms and foliage of shade garden staples like hostas and astilbes.

Date: Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018
Time: 9 a.m.-noon
Tall anemone (A. virginiana).
Photo: B. Hall.
Member benefits: Duke Gardens members get 10% off all purchases, plus access to the members-only previews sale from 8-9 a.m., and a full list of plants in advance! Join online or on site beginning at 7:30 a.m.
Parking: Free.
Pets not permitted. Please see Duke Gardens' pets policy here.
Wagons + boxes: Our supply is limited; please bring your own if possible, and you'll have more time to spend gathering beautiful plants.
Your support helps Duke Gardens to provide summer internships to aspiring horticulturists from across the nation.
Please see our event page for more information, and we'd love for you to spread the word by sharing the event on Facebook and inviting your friends.
Thank you!

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