Thegrown in such large quantities for supplying the cut-flower market is known as the Poppy or Anemone Coronaria. It is not, as many believe, a Dutch introduction of modem times, but came to us from the Levant and was to be seen in English gardens whilst Elizabeth I was still Queen. It then appeared in the form we now know as the St. Brigid anemone, being semi-double and with thin frilled petals – with many anemone lovers this has remained first favourite to the present day.
My own particular favourite is the single de Caen type, the bloom being more solid and refined, the colours clearer and without the black and white zones of the St. Brigids. Both are not only excellent for providing cut show accentuated by planting the taller growing St. Brigids in the centre, with the de Caens round the circumference. Even more lovely is a bed containing several other species which will intensify the display. A centrepiece of St. Brigids radiating to rings of de Caens in brilliant self colours, finishing with the intense blue A. apennina as an edging.for the home all the year round and a profitable source of income, but will provide a striking bedding which will hold its colour throughout summer and autumn. Planted in early April 3 in. apart in a round bed, raised at the centre, both types will give a most attractive
A plant that will provide a brilliant display at the edge of a border or shrubbery during late spring is Anemone fulgens. This species likes a firm, dry soil which is so often to be obtained in a shrubbery, provided it is not of an acid nature. Plant 5 in. apart and the dazzling scarlet blooms with their arresting black anthers will be admired by all. Against the sombre background of shrubs, this is indeed a startling plant, but do not give it too much shade. Another equally as striking is A. blanda atrocaerulea, which readily increases itself fromand bears a bloom of an intense deep blue colour during March and early April and is of dwarf habit. The plants should be left undisturbed for years.
It must be said that it is no use plantinginto land which has not been completely cleaned. A mass of couch grass and other perennial weeds will not only make cultivations almost impossible but competition with the plants will be so great as to seriously reduce the crop. Annual weeds may be kept down by hoeing and a peat mulch given after the corms have been flowering for four months.
Theare cut with as long a as possible, short-stemmed may be all right for a bedding display but will be of little value for vases. The blooms should always be graded when sending to market for the best should never be spoilt by a few blooms which might have only very short .
Picking the blooms in the exact stage also calls for experience and attention to detail. If, during a cold period, the buds are picked when too tightly closed, they may never open fully and the bunch will look lifeless and devoid of colour. Again, if the blooms are picked when almost completely open they will be past their best when they reach the shops. The buds should have opened just far enough to show the colour clearly, but not to reveal the centre of the bloom. A good selection of colours, with a slight preponderance of the scarlet and white shades, will make up a colourful bunch which, having long sturdy stems will sell on sight.
A look-out for any blotched flowers should always be made for during a wet period it occasionally happens that brown blotches and edges to the petals will spoil a bloom, which in turn, will spoil not only a bunch but a whole box. The blooms are fastened with a small elastic band, twelve to the bunch and two dozen bunches should make up a small anemone or violet box, the bunches being made firm in the box. The blooms should be picked early morning and be allowed to stand in buckets of cold water for two hours before boxing.
When sending to distant markets they should be railed at midday, so that they will be in the markets in the early hours of the following morning, when they will make the highest returns. The short-stemmed bunches should be packed in their own boxes, never mixed. The barrow-boy will take them if nobody else. I have a sneaking regard for this member of the community who clears our markets of much that would otherwise be left unsold, and this to the professional grower may mean all the difference between profit and loss over a twelve-month period. For the lady gardener, with limited capital and a small piece of sheltered ground, anemone-growing may bring in worth-while returns. A start could be made with a thousand 2cm. Corms. If situated near a florist the bunches could be taken by hand.
I have walked many a mile with anemones and, carrying them in two buckets, quite unworried at the laughter of local children. When I started market gardening, returns from these two crops kept the enterprise above water. I still grow them in the same way and they never let the side down. Perhaps my suggestion for growing a crop in a cottage garden will be taken as encroachment on the professional grower’s trade, but when it is remembered that 50 per cent of all anemones marketed in Britain are grown in the tiny cottage gardens of Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, this argument does not hold water. There is always a ready sale for cut anemones and by using a few cloches they may, even in the colder regions, be had in bloom during all months except January and early February.