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Vermont Garden Journal: Filling In The Late Summer Color Gap With Windflower

Japanese anemones quickly became a favorite in the West for their attractive dark green foliage and late summer flowers that seem to dance in the wind on wiry stems.

Late summer can be a frustrating time in the perennial flower garden. The rudbeckias and coneflowers are fading, but the asters and sedums haven’t come into their glory yet. There is often a color gap in the garden. The answer could be Japanese anemones.

Japanese anemones or wind flowers are actually native to China, but were frequently cultivated in Japanese gardens when European explorers first saw them in the 17th century. They quickly became a favorite in the West for their attractive dark green foliage and late summer flowers that seem to dance in the wind on wiry stems. Japanese anemones grow best in part shade in well-drained, moist soil. If they have too much shade, the flower stems may get leggy and flop over. Japanese anemones grow fine in full sun in our area as long as the soil is kept consistently moist. The plants grow 2 to 4 feet tall with single or double flowers ranging in color from white to deep rose.

The Chicago Botanic Garden did a plant evaluation of 28 Japanese Anemone varieties and determined for their climate (which is similar to ours), the white ‘Andrea Atkinson’, pink ‘Max Vogel’ and rose-colored ‘Splendens’ are some of the best performing varieties. Of course, there are many other good varieties as well.

Japanese anemones can spread by rhizomes, but any errant offspring are easy to remove in spring. Plant these dainty flowers in amongst your fall blooming sedums, asters and goldenrod.

And now for this week's tip, if your Genovese basil seemed to look peeked this year with patches of gray fuzz growing on the leaves, you may have downy mildew disease. This fungal disease has been spreading around the Northeast the last few years. The best course of action is to remove the plants. Next year don’t buy from large stores that get plants from the South, where it’s a year round disease problem. Either buy locally grown plants or start your own from seed. Also, grow them in pots or try the resistant ‘Lemon’ basil.

Next week on the Vermont Garden Journal, I'll be talking about panicle hydrangeas. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.


Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.
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