Wood anemone - illuminating early spring
Before the bluebells arrive, one of the joys of spring woodland is the wood anemone, carpeting the ground with their luminous white flowers and neat, pretty leaves.
The wood anemone (Anemone nemorosa) grows in dappled shade in ancient woodlands, and is also planted in graveyards, parks and gardens. It is a member of the buttercup family.
Its white flowers bloom between March and May, before the canopy of the trees becomes too dense, but its seeds are mostly infertile and it spreads slowly through the growth of its roots, by as little as six feet per century. As colonies grow so slowly, and wood anemones dislike too much shade, they are not seen in every wood. However, where they are present, they often cover the woodland floor.
Wood anemones are available to the gardener, including a delightful variety with almost-glowing, pale lavender flowers - Anemone nemorosa 'Robinsoniana'. Most spring garden anemones, however, are Anemone blanda, a different species usually sold in blue or white.
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