For me, the most beautiful of all spring flowers is the anemone. I can never resist its cup-shaped, paper thin petals and simple form.
And the colours! Choose from rich purple and vibrant red to delicate white, all with a coal black velvety centre. There are around 120 different types of this lovely flower, although the kind most commonly seen in florists’ shops is the coronaria or poppy variety. Anemone can also be spotted growing in the wild in woodlands where it is commonly known as wind flower.
It was the ancient Greeks who called anemone ‘the daughter of the wind’ as they believed that the wind was responsible for opening the flowers. A more poetic version of the origin of the name comes from ancient mythology, where it is said that the beautiful nymph Anemone was changed into a flower and left to the mercy of the North wind by the jealous goddess Flora.
The cultivated anemone we all know and love today became popular in the 1880’s. Alice Lawrenson was an Irish botanical writer and gardener from Dublin who contributed articles about flowers under the pseudonym ‘St. Brigid’. She wrote about the coronaria anemone which she grew in her garden and its popularity spread. Anemone coronaria ‘St. Brigid’ is named in her honour.
Anemones originate from the Mediterranean and Asia Minor, and are a member of the flower family Ranunculaceae so are related to clematis and buttercups – all members of this family are poisonous, so always wash your hands after using!
How to look after your anemones
The stems of the flowers are soft and hollow, so they are best displayed standing in shallow water which will need to be topped up regularly. They don’t last well in floral foam but have a 5 – 7 day vase life if arranged in clean, fresh water with flower food. They are thirsty flowers, so don’t forget to keep an eye on the water level in the vase. For maximum vase life display in a cool spot, away from direct heat sources.
Some ideas for displaying anemones at home
Create a simple spring display by tying together small bunches of anemones and tulips and popping them into clear glass beakers. Make a number of these to run down the centre of your table. A few tea lights dotted in-between and you have the perfect spring dinner table design.
This design has been created by placing a shallow dish of water inside a low ceramic bowl. The dish has then been filled with short stems of anemones, tulips, ranunculus and amaryllis, held in place by a ring of lime green viburnum. If you can’t get hold of viburnum, foliage from your own garden would do just as well.
Images courtesy of the Flowers & Plants Association.
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