anemones. You can enjoy these in spring, having planted in autumn, and plant others for summer and autumn pleasure.
There are around 120 species of anemone and countless cultivars. They often look almost fragile, yet most of the species grown in Scotland are fairly tough. They should be planted in the open ground, in large clumps where they can readily establish themselves.
You'll start enjoying the earliest anemones, Anemone blanda, over the next few weeks. Native to the eastern Mediterranean, they grow naturally in shrubby, rocky places and pasture land up to 2000m. These anemones need the sun when flowering, but do well in deciduous woodland before the leaf canopy casts its shade in summer. Well-drained, humus-rich soil is essential and a top dressing of leafmould in the autumn replicates their natural environment.
Autumn-planted Anemone blanda come in white, pink and blue. Perhaps the most attractive is White Splendour. It has pure, clean white petals, with a pale pink wash on the back, blending well with blue anemones and setting off the rich magenta of Radar. But I reckon a broad drift of a single colour is more impressive. Whatever your choice, plan a bold swathe of flowers for best effect.
Next up is Anemone nemorosa, the original windflower or wood anemone. Like A blanda, its rhizomes are planted in the autumn in deciduous woodland. Some years ago, I broke the rules and planted in the spring. When a nearby hill was being planted with sitka spruce, a JCB scraped up turf crammed with nemorosa and cast it aside to die. So, armed with a spade and wheelbarrow, I carted the clump home, where it thrives to this day.
There are so many nemorosas. Vestal is an attractive white, with a central boss of small, tightly packed petals surrounded by a halo of larger petals. Allenii flowers have subtle lavender petals, with backs of greyish violet. Robinsoniana has pale blue star-shaped flowers, while Bowles Purple has dark polished purple buds.
If you're looking for a more unusual spring anemone, consider A sylvestris, the snowdrop anemone. The white buds emerge on slightly bent stems, and as they straighten they look almost like snowdrops. A baldensis is also attractive, with nodding, solitary white flowers. And, unusually for anemones, A ranunculoides, the buttercup anemone, has yellow flowers and offers a fine display.
These are some of the anemones to enjoy over the next few weeks, but the genus offers delights right through until autumn. As the 17th-century gardener John Parkinson noted: "Without all doubt this one kind of flower is of itself alone almost sufficient to furnish a garden with their flowers for almost halfe the yeare."
Anemone coronaria, the poppy anemone, was popular in the 1600s, so Parkinson will no doubt have grown it. This plant is best suited to hotter, drier conditions than woodland species, so find a suitable sunny bed for it.
Flowering should take place three months after planting, so can be timed to occur from early summer until autumn. Again, there's a wealth of choice. Take the bright blue flowers of Mr Fokker, or Sylphide's magenta-pink petals.
Sadly for John Parkinson A hupehensis, the Japanese anemone, hadn't yet reached Europe in his time. Again, there are many cultivars, but one goodie is Hadspen Abundance. From July until September this very free-flowering plant produces masses of cup-shaped, deep pink, semi-double flowers with reddish-pink outer petals.