Japanese Anemone

I suppose that you could decide that Japanese Anemones are a “bane” simply because of the complication of deciding what they actually are! You have the choice of Anemone hupehensis, Anemone hupehensis var. japonica, and Anemone × hybrida. And then there’s the variety Anemone × hybrida Paxton which is a hybrid of Anemone hupehensis var. japonica and Anemone vitifolia. Don’t we all love taxonomists?

But what we lovingly refer to as simply “Japanese Anemones” are reliable late summer flowering plants, in my garden providing a range of flower colours from white, through pink and lilac to deep red, starting in early August and running through to late September, even into October. What makes them a bane for me is the consequence of a bad decision made some years ago. Originally, aware of their tendency to run riot underground, I planted a selection in an island bed dedicated to the species. As and when, OK when, they escaped their confines, the mower took care of the running shoots. But when they weren’t in flower, they looked somewhat naff so I decided to enlarge the bed and add in other plants to extend the season of interest. And so started the annual, indeed almost monthly, process of digging the escaping roots out, which isn’t easy when you’re trying not to disturb the other plants they’re escaping into! It reached the stage where I decided to dig them all out. I failed. Once you’ve got them, you’ll never get rid of them!

A couple of years ago, I decided to remove a hedge of Leyland Cypress (Cupressus × leylandii for the taxonomaholics amongst you) which, were it still here, would form sufficient content for a bane of the month every month for years to come. The outer face of the hedge was about a metre away from the anemone bed. The hedge was about 2 metres thick. And what did I find growing merrily behind it? You guessed it. A nice clump of Japanese Anemones. So yep, they run! And they run deep – about 2 feet down. And whilst it’s said that they’re difficult to propagate from root cuttings, they seem to happily regenerate from the smallest bit of root you leave behind.

And my lot, which were a number of varieties, have somehow morphed into a single one. They all look the same. And they’re coming up everywhere!

If you want to grow them, though, look out for the Swan series. These are British bred. They are much more restrained, forming decent clumps but not running anywhere near as much. Generally the series has white petals with purple rears; the difference between the varieties being in the flower form – single, semi-double and double – and the centres, which are generally yellow but have different shapes. They are also much shorter at about a foot or so.


John Kingdon