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Japanese Anemones: time for autumn slaughter!

  • Japanese Anemones: time for autumn slaughter!
  • Japanese Anemones: time for autumn slaughter!
  • Japanese Anemones: time for autumn slaughter!

Yes, it's time to chop down the lovely Windflowers: they've been wonderful this year, but now the flowers are over, and the foliage is going brown, so it's time to get out there and deal with them. It's a simple job, and here is my easy four-step plan.

1) firstly cut off the flowering tops, as they contain the seeds - and we don't want them in the compost heaps! I generally cut them down just below the first branching point, to make sure I get all of the seed heads, but (looks furtively over shoulder in case anyone is listening) if I am in a hurry, I just gather up a handful of stems and cut them at about knee height. This part of the plant should go in the green waste bin, or on the bonfire heap.

The first photo shows a clump that I have just started - if you look closely, you can see some cut stems just at the height of the tops of the leaves.

2) the second job is to cut the remainder of the plant right down, to just a couple of inches above ground level, and all of it can go in the compost. Go on, I know it looks harsh, but honestly, these plants benefit from it.

Photo number 2 shows a clump, reduced to below ankle height.

3) now rake through those clumps, to pull out all the dead leaves, and the decaying stems from last year - I use my good old Daisy Grubber, or you can use a gloved hand: just rake through, and pull out anything which is dead.

The third photo shows the same clump after this raking. Can you see the difference?

4) finally, add mulch. Home-made compost is fine, mixed with some leaf mould if you have any left: just fling it around all over the clumps, and let the worms pull it down into the soil over the winter.

There you go! Easy, wasn't it? Chopping the old stems and leaves right off has another advantage - if you leave them six or eight inches high, as a lot of people do, then they will catch all the autumn leaves which will be tumbling any day now. This just creates nice cosy habitats for slugs and other pests, not to mention being unsightly. It also makes it a lot easier to carry out stage four, the mulching: you can just ladle the mulch straight in place, without it forming great mounds and hummocks!

Comments (4)

  1. Grower

    Angie's Garden

    Japanese Anemones still blooming and looking reasonable up here Rachel. But will keep all your tip in mind when I get round to giving them the chop!
    This shot of A. Ruffled Swan taken last week.

    • Japanese Anemones: time for autumn slaughter!
  2. Grower

    Rachel the Gardener

    Hi Angie (waves), wow, those are looking lovely!

    Down here in south Oxfordshire, they are pretty much all over and done with... and as you know, they do set seed everywhere, so deadheading them a little early is not a bad thing!

    I love your dark blue flowers, just behind them, what are they? Salvia Black Knight? Lovely rich colour!

  3. Grower

    Jeremy Wright

    Definitely time for the annual cut back down here in Somerset. I was looking at the browning foliage only yesterday and thinking the same as you Rachel.

    Japanese Anemones are some of the best value plants in the garden in my view, but they are, as you say, prolific self-seeders and seem to thrive best in some of the most unlikely crevices - in our case between paving stones around the house. So care in disposing of the seed heads is important. Here's a nice full bloom photo from earlier in the season.

    • Japanese Anemones: time for autumn slaughter!
  4. Grower

    Angie's Garden

    Thanks Rachel. I never come across any Japanese Anemone seedlings in the garden that's probably more down to my weeding regime than anything else though. I have a touch of OCD when it comes to weeding. The dark blue flowers are S. Amistad. One of my favourites. Not hardy up here but easy from cuttings each year.
    That's a nice Anemone Jeremy. I do prefer the white ones.

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