A is for Anemone

Twenty-five years ago or more, I planted a few hundred anemone tubers. The tubers are unlikely looking objects. They’re dry, hard, wrinkled, slightly dished on one side, and vaguely reminiscent of old prunes. Planting instructions usually tell you to soak the tubers in water overnight before putting them in the ground. The plants will do reasonably well in sod, but don’t really like to grow among grass roots. Like crocus and snowdrops and many other small bulbs, they are happiest without competition. They love to grow under leaf litter at the edge of the lawn.

Insects, especially the hovering syrphid flies, will come to pollinate the blooms. Later, wind will  scatter away the petals, and still later, the wind will return, to toss around mature anemone seeds.

If the seeds are happy where they fall, they’ll grow. You can end up with thousands of anemones, instead of hundreds, which is now the case in my yard. They can pop up in the most unexpected places.

Many years ago, Pliny the Elder wrote that the anemone opens only when the winds blow.


I went and watched the anemone at dawn this morning.

Day-warmth came with sunrays.

And when night’s cool was gone, and the flowers were fully lit, I saw.

Warmth and sun are the true keys that open anemone petals.


I kneeled down.


And got closer.


Had I been two inches tall, I’d have been able to walk through this grove.

What if these flowers were three feet across and twenty feet above your head?

That’s what they would look like, if you were two inches tall.


I am not two inches tall.

But my camera is.

So the camera went in my stead, and looked up.

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What a fine and magical place is the grove of anemones.

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With the sky so April springtime blue.


Where do these flowers come from?

Do you remember the story of Aphrodite and Adonis? It’s very long, and like most myths, full of astonishing and sometimes gory events, which you can go ferret out if you’re interested.

Here’s a little poem about their last moments together.


A to the Second Power

Adonis, attacked by a boar,

Lies wounded and dying on the forest floor.

His lover Aphrodite hears his cries.

She holds him in her arms — he dies.


The gods have great powers, great feelings.

In the full of her loss, from her strength and grief, Aphrodite causes flowers to spring from where the earth has been stained by Adonis’s blood.

That flower?

The anemone.








3 responses to “A is for Anemone

  1. Nice photos, words, and words with photos! I feel like the word “anemone” needs to be in a limerick (it surely is already).

    • I found this one, not about the flower anemone, but about a sea anemone. It’s pretty awful.

      Many names this anemone’s been called,
      from “baked beans” to “wandering beach ball”.
      Oh, you clever Phlyctenactis,
      with your tentacles retracted,
      over the sea floor you roll, swim and crawl.

  2. There once was a man named johnhenry
    went to war using an anemone
    he gave it a lob
    it came down in a blob
    right on the head of his enemy

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