Grow Write Guild #10: This Plant Is Driving Me Nuts

The Grow Write Guild’s prompt #10 is This Plant Is Driving Me Nuts.

Anemone hupehensis, Anemone hupehensis var. ja...

Anemone hupehensis, Anemone hupehensis var. japonica, and Anemone × hybrida (commonly known as the Chinese or Japanese anemone, thimbleweed, or windflower) are herbaceous perennials in the buttercup family. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I cannot seem to grow Japanese anemones (Anemone hupehensis var. japonica). These gorgeous plants typically top out at about 3′ tall,  showing lovely wide blooms in shades of white, pink, and lavender from August to October or so. At a time when asters and chrysanthemums dominate, anemones bring much-needed elegance to the fall garden.

Just not to mine.

Anemone hupehensis

Anemone hupehensis (Photo credit: Alexandre Dulaunoy)

Gardening literature alleges that Japanese anemones can colonize large areas and become “almost thuggish.” I wish. This article does acknowledge that they dislike disturbance, so transplanting them can be tricky. If I can find a local gardening friend who has them, perhaps I can try propagating them by root cuttings.

Gardening literature also instructs me to plant them in partial shade to full sun, in well-drained soil (what else is there?). I have plenty of partial shade and I would have thought I had dug in enough compost anywhere I tried to plant them, but my efforts are insufficient. They also apparently like regular moisture and cool soil. This year notwithstanding, the regular moisture, I am sure, is at the heart of my problem. I am habitually irregular in my watering: very good for a few weeks, then forgetting a bit, revisiting it once again, then leaving it while I go on vacation, hoping a little rain falls during the week of above-90 temperatures.

“Tough plants for partial shade!” “Easily grown in average soil!” One can always find Japanese anemone on plant lists with such headings. These reminders only serve to highlight my anemone-incompetence.

Anemone hupehensis 'Prince Henry'

Anemone hupehensis ‘Prince Henry’ (Photo credit: KingsbraeGarden)

This year, though, I may finally be in luck. I have planted Anemone hupehensis ‘Pamina,’ which I got at the Duke Gardens plant sale last fall. When I transplanted it, the root ball fell into perhaps a dozen small pieces, and I planted each of them that was of reasonable size. The others I overwintered in my winter sowing orgy, and transplanted this spring. Then it has rained, almost nonstop, since March.

Here they are the Anemones ‘Pamina’ today, offering such promises as I can hardly hope to believe. Look at all those buds. What method will they contrive to break my heart again?

Anemone hupehensis 'Pamina' in bud

New project: Pathway garden

Gardeners are always being made to cope with some disaster or another. If it isn’t rain, such as we have had virtually nonstop since March, then it’s impossible drought or hailstorms or drying winds or plagues of locusts. Weather happens; we must get on with it.

So, despite a brief rain on Sunday (see previous comments about not working the soil when it’s wet), I made progress on my pathway garden. As before, I cleared the area–perhaps another 10 or 12 feet in length alongside the property-line fence–and hauled in soil amendments. This time, I treated the area to some moldering sawdust from the tree we removed in early May (in preparation for the house addition that it has been too damp to build), then a generous layer of the manure-grit mixture. A careful till and smooth-over with the rake, laying and leveling the brick edging, and I was ready to plant.

The plants

I installed another Hydrangea paniculata ‘Snowflake,’ a variegated Fatshedera lizei ‘Aureosomething’ (the tag, of course, is in the shed), perhaps two dozen or so displaced crocus and daffodil bulbs, and three Disporopsis perneyi, or Asian fairy bells. The Disporopsis were an impulse buy, a kind of horticultural checkout counter Toblerone. The evergreen foliage looks like that of Tricyrtis, another shade plant I love but which my voles apparently love more. I hope the Disporopsis‘s stiff vertical form will contrast nicely with the floppy, broad foliage of the hydrangea, and perhaps blend gracefully with the Fatshedera which I intend to cover the fence.  As I mentioned before, in my mind it looks fantastic.

pathway garden phase 2 planted

And, hoping that very late is better than never, I transplanted some winter-sown seedlings of Anemone virginiana and Mitella diphylla. The pathway may prove too damp and shaded for the anemones but I expect this site is marginally better than the milk carton in which they were growing sitting. If they do want more direct light than they’ll get here, I’ll move them to the white garden, but that bed expansion is further down on the to-do list. The mosquitoes back there are the size of hummingbirds, I swear.

Garden log, 5.17.13


Woke up in the middle of the night remembering I had planted out seedlings of Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’ a few days ago and forgot to water them. This is not a good sign of my mental health. This morning made an emergency nursery bed for seedlings of Belamcanda chinensis, Celosia ‘Crimson Pink,’ what’s left of Echinacea ‘Magnus,’ some Linum perenne (flax), purple bee balm, ‘Mammoth’ dill, Thymus vulgaris, and something else that has lost its label. Assuming, hopefully, that they survive, the bed will be a design disaster. Put white Nicotiana in white garden, fingers crossed. Moved remaining suffering seedlings to the shade and gave them a good water and a low-strength fertilizer. Hope I can get to the rest tomorrow before projected thundershowers.

I knew it would come to this when I planted all those seeds during my winter sowing mania. I love to sow; love having cheap new plants; hate to thin, prick out, and pot up. Must think of better way to do this, because I like the winter sowing technique. Could nursery beds be the answer?

The way of all projects?

I am keen to finish the rain garden project. I don’t have very much left to do; perhaps 25 square feet. But, as always seems to happen, a few other responsibilities have preempted that work.

I am having a large tree removed from my garden this week. Continue reading