Flower of the Month: Anemones

Spring’s sunshine is finally greeting us on a more regular basis and the anemones are beginning to bloom, giving the garden a carpet of rainbow.  Their thick necks unfurling from the earth look like something foreign to this world. 


Anemones are deeply integrated into human history.  Their name is derived from the Greek word “windflower,” because the flowers can be blown open and shredded by the wind.  The Victorian Language of Flowers play off the Greek meaning by giving the anemone their own meaning of “fragility.”  The red anemones have been often as imagery of death or forsaken love, in Greek Mythology and in Christianity (Jesus’s Resurrection).  Some of the most influential painters have painted anemones, such as Monet and Van Gogh.


Though the anemones have been given many faces, the flowers also mean “relaxation.”  Relaxation seems more applicable.  Anemones take their time in the morning to open their blooms and close them long before night.  They seem to like to sleep in and go to bed early, talk about relaxation! 


There are many varieties of anemones, the one we’re gushing about this month is a spring blooming variety called anemone cornaria. Though some have successfully grown this variety as a perennial, here at Sierra Flower Farm we treat it as an annual. Unlike other varieties of anemones, anemone cornaria make nice cut flowers with a vase life of about ten days, when properly harvested and treated. 

These anemones make a great project for the impatient gardener.  Unlike tulips or daffodils that need to be fall planted, here in the Carson Valley, these guys can be started in late winter and then will be gifting you blooms late April!  They take only three months from planting to flowering.  Unlike other spring plants, anemones do not grow from bulbs, but rather corms.  They look like a small acorn or a larger pebble. 


To get a head start on the anemones, and to ensure we only plant the healthiest corms, we like to pre-sprout.  What is this language?  I know, stick with me (next fall or winter this could be an awesome experiment to even do with your kids).  We like to pre-soak our corms with running cold water for a few hours, then pack them in homemade mesh-bags with some moistened potting soil. We do this to break the dormancy of the corm and make it easier to start rooting.  We placed the mesh bags filled with soil and corms into buckets, then into a dark closet.  We wanted to keep them at a moderate temperature. We checked on them every-other-day and pulled out the yucky, mushy, and moldy ones.  Once the roots were sprouted (a few inches in length) you have two options.  1) Throw them in the ground (if the ground isn’t frozen solid…) or 2) place them in pots with potting soil in a sunny spot.  Given the dreary and cold winter we had, we opted to pot them up and grow them in the greenhouse for a few more weeks.  Once the snow melted and the soil thawed, we planted them under a low tunnel.  Don’t worry, these guys are tough and will grow for you even without a low tunnel.  They may get nipped by the cold but will quickly send out new growth.

The anemone stems are quite short at the moment, but as they continue to bloom, their stems will continue to elongate.  In just a couple more weeks the anemones will be getting nestled into bouquets for our Spring Bouquet Share, along with some other exciting spring blooms.  

Hope you enjoyed this dose of floral bliss!

- Jessica