Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wildflower Wednesday: Canada Anemone

I have a friend who gardens on a grand scale on a large acreage in the country. He has a great appreciation for flowers of all sorts, and the larger or more exotic the better he likes them, but he can’t understand why people would want to plant wildflowers in their garden. ‘If you want to see wildflowers’, he says, ‘why not go for a walk in the woods?’

Of course, he has a woods to take a walk in and is willing to spend 2 hours a day commuting back and forth between his acreage and work. I spend 2 hours a day commuting too, but that is by foot and public transit in the City. I do see a few wildflowers, now and then, when crossing the River Valley parklands, but not enough to keep me satisfied. Also, there’s this experiment I’m allegedly conducting – the Home Bug Garden – and aren’t native plants supposed to be best for native bugs?

Well, whether or not that peculiar hypothesis turns out to be true, I have accumulated a fair number of both Alberta ‘native’ plants (i.e. allegedly part of the flora of Alberta before Europeans arrived) and North American native plants that may eventually have reached Alberta on their own, assuming our current inter-glacial period lasted long enough. Also, although I think blogging should be a recreation and not another chore, I could use a bit of a stimulus to post more regularly. So, I shall now embark upon a new tradition at the HBG: Wildflower Wednesday.

First up is something so native its provenance is Albertan and its name Canadian: Anemone canadensis, aka Canada or Meadow Anemone (Zones 2-9, moist to dry soil, shade to sun). Although its flowers are not as large as the domesticated Eurasian Snowdrop Windflower (Anemone silvestris), they are almost as showy and a similar bright white with yellow centers. Usually, Canada Anemone starts blooming here in late May, although this cold spring has held it up for a few weeks. The HBG has more shade than sun, but Canada Anemone tolerates shade well. In fact, it is probably a better plant in a shady garden than in a sunny one since it spreads by rhizomes and can be aggressive. The first sets that I planted came from a ranch in southern Alberta where the lady rancher was yanking them out of her garden by the handful. I’ve since added a local set from our place in the country because I’d read (Douglas & Cruden 1994 Amer. J. Botany 81: 314-321) that Canada Anemome is xenogamous – it is an outcrossing species that likes fooling around with alien pollen and doesn’t set seed well with its own pollen. The only pollinators that I could find records for were sweat bees (Halictidae), but the HBG has lots of halictids, like the Halictus confusus that graces the picture in the header.


  1. Looking forward to your 'Wildflower Wednesdays'.

    Our A. sylvestris have been running out of steam in the last few days and they are dropping petals. This year we added some of the little alpine windflower, A. multifida, which looks good in the gravel along the path's edge by the pond. I haven't noticed any visitors as yet, but I haven't had that much time to observe them.

  2. "Wildflower Wednesday" - I like it.

  3. Hi Ted, Adrian, et al.

    We'll see how regular at posting I can be, but I started making a list last night and I've easily got enough wildflowers to finish out the year. Looks like one of the other native species of anemone I have grown from seed is about to bloom.

  4. Great idea! I look forward to these postings. There are so many wild flowers around that I would simply love to know more about.

  5. Thanks for doing this and linking the flowers to their pollinators.