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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Florist's Anemone, Anemone coronaria

I’ve never had much luck cultivating Anemone coronaria in my Durham garden but perhaps that not such a surprise, because it hails from the Eastern Mediterranean. The plant dies back to a small woody corm every year and I suspect that these rot rather easily if the soil is too wet. It makes a lovely cut flower but the best way to appreciate it is in its native habitat, flowering in spring around fields in the Middle East . It's a particularly popular wild flower in Israel. The plant seems to be unpalatable to most grazing animals but recently roe deer have been reintroduced into Israel, after being extinct there since the beginning of the 20th. century, and have shown a predilection for nibbling off the flower buds before they can open, which sounds like a potential conservation conflict. Anemone was the daughter of the winds in Greek mythology and the Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder believed that spring winds were needed to bring this plant into flower.

I photographed these anemones growing wild on a rocky hillside near Aleppo in Syria about twenty years ago. There were drifts of them, all over the hillside - an unforgettable sight.