Swaying in the wind… Lisa Aarts is encouraging local gardeners to weave Anemone’s Honorine Jobert (better known as Japanese anemone or windflower) into their garden and add that little extra motion to their front or backyard.
The wind flower is a hardy, easy-to-grow, and pest resistant perennial that brings local gardens alive through multiple seasons, Aarts said, noting the plant deserves its recent classification as the 2016 Perennial of the Year.
The Milner nursery owner encourages people to consider it.
“It’s lovely… cheery” she said.
This plant puts on a nice show in the garden, Aarts elaborated, calling it a time-tested plant that is sturdy and low maintenance.
Aarts is drawn to this particular perennial because of the motion it offers to any garden. But, she described it as also a “strong” fall flowering perennial that is ideal for growing in this area of the country, in a shade or even partially shaded garden.
“When it’s rainy and miserable you get this lovely little white flower,” said Aarts, who took over her parents’ nursery business six years ago.
Her folks started the business in 1970, before she was even born, so needless to say Aarts grew up immersed in the business – building forts and playing among the plants of the Glover Road nursery long before she thought about following in their footsteps.
While Aarts Nursery typically carries the wind flower, Aarts said she has difficulty keeping it in stock, noting it sells out quickly every spring.
It’s a consistent performer, she said, liking that it stands about three to four feet high with textured foliage in full form during the spring, and pure white blossom that flowers in late summer or early fall.
The tall stem is what gives this plant the motion in even the slightest breeze of a fall garden, without fear the stem will snap.
It is generous with its flowers, which are a typically a couple inches across, making it fit in many different types of gardens, she added.
The wind flower is also great to highlight other plants in the garden. All the other colours tend to bounce off of it, she said, noting it is an under used and under recognized plants.
“At the end of the year, you chop it down in the winter and it comes right back up in the spring,” she said.
It’s even better when grouped with hostas, ferns, and rhododendrons.
Speaking of companion plants, Aarts said it goes ideal with Mukdenia crimson fans (which works well in a woodland garden beds or pots). That plant offers unique shaped leaves and spring flowers, but she is particularly excited when the Mukdenia leaves turn a bright red every fall.
It’s about time the wind flower became Perennial of the Year, Aarts said, but she hopes the Mukenia will soon earn this distinction, as well.
Each year, the Perennial Plant Association (PPA) announce a perennial of the year.
The selection process is simple – PPA members vote for the Perennial Plant of the Year each summer.
At that time, in addition to the vote, each member may also nominate up to two plants for future consideration.
The Perennial Plant of the Year committee reviews the nominated perennials (more than 400 different perennials are often nominated each year) and selects three or four to be placed on a ballot.
The plants are selected based on suitability for a wide range of climatic conditions, low maintenance upkeep, relatively pest- and disease-resistant, readily available, and multiple seasons of “ornamental” interest.
Aarts said the wind flower meets all those criteria – and then some. It brings a lot to a garden, but it can also bring beauty indoors as a wispy cut flower.