Anemones photo, courtesy of wikipedia.com
Paper bush photo, courtesy of http://www.wilsonbrosgardens.com/Edgeworthia-chrysantha-Paper-Bush.html
By: Sallie Lee
Question: As winter continues to inhabit January, how about some suggestions for plants in our gardens that will address this dreary time of year? Of particular interest are early-blooming shrubs and perennials, maybe varieties that are a little out of the ordinary? Gardening is all about trying new plants as well as cultivating tried and true favorites; in fact one of my new year’s resolutions is to try three new plants in my flower beds and lawn.
My gardening space is a mixture of full sun to mixed sun/shade, only aspect I don’t have is deep shade, if that helps narrow the options.
Answer: With the range of sun/shade options, you are truly the envy of many gardeners who feel limited with one or the other.
The following suggestions are merely a starting point. With any experimentation, success isn’t guaranteed, which makes gardening a challenge but carries extra points when it’s successful. Even when the outcome isn’t what we wanted, there’s still a learning process very familiar to gardeners and to some degree expected.
Anemone even sounds like its common name “wind flower”, delicate and ethereal. Tougher than it looks, Anemone is categorized as both perennial and annual, depending on the variety grown although most planted in this area are repeaters (perennials).
Of the perennials, they are typically categorized as spring or fall bloomers. Spring-bloomers (planted in fall) range in height from 6 to 18 inches and most produce pure white flowers, although there are a few purple and pink types in the mix. Fall-bloomers (planted in spring) are much taller, measuring up to 5 feet. The flowers are 3 inches or more in diameter and bloom in shades of pink or white. All anemones need full sun or partial shade and average, well-drained soil. The climate needed depends on the species, but most are hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 to 8.
Don’t be alarmed if new fall-blooming transplants or divisions that you planted in spring don’t show new growth right away. It’s not unusual for them to show the first signs of new growth in late spring.
Think carefully about the location of your windflowers before planting. Moving them later is difficult because every small piece of root left in the ground results in new plants. Once the bed is established, it is difficult to get rid of them. For additional information, review sites such as https://www.longfield-gardens.com/article/All-About-Anemones
While Anemones bloom in early spring or fall, depending on variety, Paper bush (Edgeworthia chrysantha) puts on its subtle but notable display in mid to late winter. Walking downwind of a group of the shrubs on a chilly January day, the light fragrance emanating from soft yellow flower on branches devoid of leaves tends to grab our attention.
While its ancestry isn’t native to North America but rather of Chinese origin, Paper bush is a well-behaved shrub related to Daphne, another winter-flowering lovely. In Asia its bark is used to make high quality paper, ergo the common name. Considered a medium sized shrub at best, about 6’ tall and wide, preferring light shade in this part of the state, its roots are happiest in moist, well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter. It doesn’t take kindly to drought conditions but adding mulch around the roots to help retain moisture and hold down weeds helps keep the plant healthy.
Considered a relatively pest-free plant, it is also low maintenance if properly sited, pruning limited to only those stems that are damaged or growing at an unproductive angle.
While neither of these plants are considered collector’s items, they aren’t seen in our landscapes as often as we’d think considering their appearance and charming deportment. This year, both will be on my plant “bucket list” – what about yours?
Garden Talk is written by Sallie Lee of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES). She is housed at the C. Beaty Hanna Horticultural and Environmental Center, which is based at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. This column includes research based information from land-grant universities around the country, including Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities. Email questions to Sallie at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 205-879-6964 x11. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M University and Auburn University), is an equal opportunity educator and employer. Everyone is welcome!