Landscape & Gardening

A Late Bloomer by Six Weeks

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Japanese Anemone. It’s now the last few days of October and it’s just now beginning to bloom. Usually this flower blossoms at the end of August through mid-September, and I am stumped as to what caused it to be so tardy. The only reason that I can think of is perhaps our summer was just too brutally hot for it to start producing its buds on schedule. Other than that, your guess is as good as mine.

It’s just in the last two years that I have learned how to keep these finicky plants from frying into crispy fritters during our cruel summers. Since planting this perennial in 2003, there hadn’t been more than 1.5 blooms until the fall of 2009. That summer I had changed my watering practices and had begun hand watering them every evening and sometimes again in the morning, which resulted in my first decent show of blooms ever. Since it worked last year, I continued the practice this summer, and again, this extra hard work paid off. That’s just the way it is here in Dallas. We live in a crack between two climate extremes, and gardening here is brutal work and can be heartbreaking. That’s right–your read it right–I said crack.

note: The reason for so much watering is because there are a lot of large trees around this patch and the rest of my front shade garden, and their root systems suck a tremendous amount of moisture and nutrients from the soil daily. The top four to five inches of the soil becomes rock hard and dry between waterings.

(above) Japanese Anemones within the gardens of Villa Giusti (Giardini Giusti) in Verona, northern Italy.
(above) Japanese Anemones within the gardens of Villa Giusti (Giardini Giusti) in Verona, northern Italy.

The above and below photos show how my anemones should look each autumn if I didn’t live in a crack. I took these photos during my Northern Italian Lakes tour in the fall of 2007. If you’re wondering why I didn’t just give up on the ones in my garden, it’s because they continued to grow back every spring, and I wanted to give them another chance. And then another chance. And then another. Then another. Until finally…

(above) a close-up view of the anemones in the gardens of Villa Giusti
(above) a close-up view of the anemones in the gardens of Villa Giusti

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