Around the garden, the woodland floor is full of sparkling, starry flowers carried on a bed of pretty, deeply cut leaves. The little gems in question this month are wood anemones - Anemone nemorosa.
All over Wisley – from Battleston Hill to Oakwood, and on beds and borders in between – your eye is drawn to patches and clumps of wood anemones. These cheerful little things spread far and wide when they’re happy – clearly they’re happy here – and so they often don’t have a plant label near them because we didn’t necessarily plant them!
Every year, the lobed and finely divided leaves emerge just before the flowers, where each one is held on a single stem, just 10-20cm (4-8in) above ground level. The flowers themselves are star-shaped with around 7 or 8 slender petals (strictly speaking these are tepals) with a yellow centre.
Often white, and sometimes flushed pink underneath, the flowers of these lovely herbaceous perennials sometimes appear in a number of other colours. Look out for pink, mauve and blue ones, and even double-flowered types. In fact, there is a really wide range of cultivars available, which is another reason why we love this little plant so much. Check out the green, Award of Garden Merit-winning cultivar ‘Viriscens’.
As with all “good” spring plants, Anemone nemorosa does its thing with aplomb before disappearing completely by mid-summer, ready to spread via underground rhizomes or by seed and re-emerge next spring. If these are tickling your fancy, the Wisley Plant Centre has a rare white-flowered form that is seldom on sale, propagated from our plants on Battleston Hill. It produces carpets of pure-white flowers in April and, naturally, likes a woodland-type position.