Early-blooming anemones are some of the plant world’s most charming creations. It’s such a joy to see them, seemingly overnight, transform the ground beneath under trees and shrubs into a lush carpet of color.

Spring anemones grow particularly well in the light shade under trees, although they usually tolerate a little more light or a little less. Their optimal spot is in rich, uncompacted soil; in clayey earth, it’s worth the extra effort to work in sand before planting out, otherwise your anemones won’t last as long, becoming fewer and fewer every year. It’s when these little jewels feel at home that they’ll spread freely, without running riot. They’ll fit into naturalistic designs just as well as herbaceous borders.

These are flowers that are best bought in pots. That way you’ll avoid problems with the rhizomes drying out.
Once you’ve fallen for spring anemones, you’re sure to want to try one or another of the many unique varieties.

Winter windflower is the early riser

Starting in February, brave little Balkan windflower (Anemone blanda) begin to poke above the protective layer of soil. They come in white, violet, and a slew of pink tones, all with stamens standing above the blossoms like the points of a miniature crown.

Wood anemone and snowdrop anemone form carpets of white blossoms

Wood anemone (Anemone nemorosa) is a wonderful, undemanding spring flower and an easy ground cover.A white mantel of flowers starts blossoming thickly in March, contrasting wonderfully with the dry leaves that’ve served as both frost protection and fertilizer.
You don’t need to bother with any additional fertilizer – just be sure to grant them their proper bed of leaves in fall.

For design inspiration, you need go no further than nature’s example. In the forest, you’ll find spring anemones blooming alongside spring snowflake (Leucojum vernum), Corydalis cava, snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis), lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis), and daphne – the full array of spring bloomers represented. Snowdrop anemone (Anemone sylvelstris) is very similar to winter windflower in shape and color but blooms later, starting in May, and grows significantly taller – up to 18 inches. It thrives in sunny locations with well-drained soil, where it can send out an expanse of roots.

Yellow windflower is brilliant even on gray days

Yellow windflower, or buttercup anemone (Anemone ranuncoides) sends out radiant flowers from March through May, particularly in their favorite spot, under trees and shrubs in not overly dry ground. Just as for all spring anemones, it’s important to find a fitting partner for the yellow windflower, one that will take its spot after it has finished. They have very attractive foliage, but these will wither fairly quickly after the plant flowers. Pair them with a plant that will completely overgrow their leaves with their own, one like hosta, fern, or bugbane (Cimicifuga). Protected by some friendly giants, anemone will quietly go dormant, gathering strength for next year’s show.


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