a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

What colour is a white wood anemone?


The butterfly path leads through the woods.  On either side are wild flowers, hence the butterflies at this time of year and the bees and bumble bees and lots more if you stop and look.  That’s just it, you have to stop and look.

You can take a deep breath, look all around and get the general impression of the pleasant woodland scene but it is not until you really look that you see things.

For one thing there are the wild anemones.  I have always loved anemones and to find so many growing wild never ceases to thrill.  They grow in ones and two’s by the side of the path and then spread out into clearings that they have colonised, taking advantage of the extra sunlight.

The species most commonly found in the UK and europe is Anemone nemorosa, the wood anemone.  They are usually white and in fact I had never seen any other colour until my eye was drawn to a particular patch enjoying the spring sunshine.

From a distance I thought it might be some other flower, a vinca perhaps.  But no, it was a coloured anemone and the more I looked the more different forms I found.

Pale blue anemone.

Pink anemone.

The differences in the flowers were subtle like the pink veining in a mainly white anemone.

Lilac anemone.

The wood anemone generally has six petals but here I found double flowers.

Double white anemone

I have done a little research and my anemones are not unique, unusual but not unique.  The wood anemone, anemone nemorosa, does occur in shades of pink and blue and lilac and can have variations in the number of petals.

Why does this particular patch carry such a high rate of mutation?  Last spring was particularly warm and sunny, did they get more U.V. radiation?  The soil is limestone so I cannot imagine much natural radiation from the soil. Is it down to sheer chance?

Whatever the reason I was thrilled to note the variation and I will keep my eye on this patch next year.

Author: afrenchgarden

Born in Scotland I have lived in England, Iran, USA and Greece. The house and land was bought twelve years ago in fulfilment of the dream of living in France that my Francophile husband nurtured. We had spent frequent holidays in France touring the more northerly parts and enjoying the food, scenery, architecture and of course gardens. However, we felt that to retire in France and enjoy a more clement climate than we currently had in Aberdeen we would need to find somewhere south of the river Loire but not too south to make returning to visit the UK onerous. The year 2000 saw us buying our house and setting it up to receive us and the family on holidays. The garden was more a field and we were helped by my son to remove the fencing that had separated the previous owners’ goats, sheep and chickens. We did inherit some lovely old trees and decided to plant more fruit trees that would survive and mature with the minimum of care until we took up permanent residence. The move took place in 2006 and the love hate relation with the “garden” started. There was so much to do in the house that there was little energy left for the hard tasks in the garden. It was very much a slow process and a steep learning curve. Expenditures have been kept to a minimum. The majority of the plants have been cuttings and I try to gather seeds wherever I can. The fruit trees have all been bought but we have tender hearts and cannot resist the little unloved shrub at a discount price and take it as a matter of honour to nurse it back to health. This year I have launched my Blog hoping to reach out to other gardeners in other countries. My aim is to make a garden for people to enjoy, providing shady and sunny spots with plants that enjoy living in this area with its limestone based subsoil and low rainfall in a warm summer. Exchanging ideas and exploring mutual problems will enrich my experience trying to form my French garden.

8 thoughts on “What colour is a white wood anemone?

  1. Nature is a wonderful thing. Perhaps the anemones are a bit like the Flamingoes of the forest? Flamingoes are naturally white birds, but given the appropriate nutrition (shrimp) will turn pink.


  2. They are very beautiful. I hope i can see some of them in a couple of weeks


  3. Your title reminds me of the old Groucho Marx television quiz show “You Bet Your Life.” If a contestant had not done well, Groucho would ask a question at the end that the person was sure to answer correctly: “What color was George Washington’s white horse?”

    As for anemones, the common species here in central Texas ranges from white to purple. You can see a few of the variations at:





  4. Pingback: How not to plant daffodils | a french garden

  5. I think there’s probably a good chance for a few colored flowers in each large group. They make a great display!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s