Alan Chadwick a Gardener of Souls

Lecture by Alan Chadwick in New Market, Virginia, 1979


Lecture 12: Anemone Culture, Part 1

An Introduction to Alan Chadwick's Lectures and a Glossary of Terms

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The anemone coranarias: de Caen, and St. Bridgit. One of the best cut flowers. Chadwick raised a great quantity of anemones in Santa Cruz. Best to start with corms, since the seed is hard to get and not always very good. The de Caen is the better of the two. Buy the corms in the late fall. Plant them out in the spring, January or Febuary. Prepare the soil deeply. Lay down good drainage at the bottom, then some green matter, followed by some fresh manure, preferably horse, for heat. On top of that, ordinary top soil. Then prepare a mixture of 1/3 sharp sand, 1/3 turf loam, and 1/3 well rotted manure. Never alow weeds in the anemone beds. On top place about 1" - 2" of leaf mold, followed by the mixture of sand, turf loam and manure. Roll or press with planting boards. Plant 1" deep. Cover with a thin layer of sand. Then place 1" of well rotted manure. Finally a strata of half top soil mixed with one half leaf mold. Corms are now down about 2 1/4 - 2 1/2 inches deep. If frost is a problem, put down a layer of bracken fern. Remove this as soon as the shoots begin to come through. In 6-8 weeks they should shoot out. You can leave the bracken if you like and the anemones will simply come up through it. The first blooms will appear in 15-16 weeks. Each corm will produce about 15 blooms the first year. Typically they will come in four colors. Mark the best plants with little color-coded pegs. When they have died down, but when the stalks are still visible, it is time to lift them. But before lifting the whole bed, take up the marked corms first. (14:08)


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New Market, Virginia, September 12, 1979, Lecture 12


The Anemone, Part 1


And we have discussed this morning, as you've had your basic herb study yesterday, we have just discussed in the meeting this morning, and we are going to introduce a herb on each of the subjectivities of the lectures and talks that we have. So you will be having a herb, literally a herb a day, so to speak, during the weeks. And in this way you will cover something like two hundred in the year. Just to let you know that.

The subject today is the Anemone De Caen, and the anemone St. Brigid. They're known as the coronarias. How to grow them to perfection. And it is one of the most exquisite and beautiful plants. An invaluable cut flower of enormous lasting value, of brilliant color, excellent form and really very simple. If the technical is applied properly it is utterly, utterly superb in its performance. But if it is disobeyed, it's a complete failure and a dead loss.

I'm going to begin and go through the performance of this plant that you understand it in all its attitudes and how to produce it, because it's becoming very difficult to get in the world. You cannot buy the seed of the De Caen. You can buy the seed of St. Bridgid, but it's almost impossible to buy the seed of the De Caen, and if you do, it's not necessarily very good. I produced some twenty-eight thousand plants, corms, at Santa Cruz and each of those plants produced twenty-six blooms each a year that all the students enjoyed. They last tor three weeks and more in water. I give you a little picture of what is possible with great ease, provided that you obey the technique.

So we're going to begin, since you cannot get the seed easily, we are going to begin by saying we purchase corms.  And those corms that we purchase will be, from an economical point of view, reasonable to buy. They're becoming very expensive, so we should buy two thousand corms at one year nurseryfication of De Caen. This is the best anemone of the two, by far. It is plain edged. It's colors are far more intense, and it is single and it comes utterly true to its type. The four colors being blood red, purplish blue, a mauve, and a white, an ivory white. Therefore, we will purchase two thousand corms one year nurseryfied. They will have been produced from seed.

And those corms will be a very small centimeter. I don't know quite what to say, about the size of a, not very much bigger than a rather round oat. And they will be purchased in the late fall.  And they will be planted in a bed in the spring of this preparation: (preferably in January or February) a deep, well-drained performed bed with an excellent hot bed placed within it. Now these corms are very small and are going to go into a very close area, certainly not more than about four times the length of this table, and either three or four foot wide.

So we will have a hot bed placed upon a good drainage, in other words, the stalks of any helio at the bottom. On the stalks of those helio will go a green matter of any sort, anything like nasturtium or that sort of matter that is green, and on top of that, preferably, a pretty fresh horse manure to produce the heat. And on top of that, an ordinary top soil as a coverage. And now you have a mixture of one-third sharp, one-third turf loam, and one-third well rotted rich manure, six months to a year stock-piled. If possible well turned and eradicated from seed, weed-seed issue. No weeds are going to be allowed in these beds at any time. No weeds. Not, not, not permissible.

Now on top of that soil that we have mentioned that's on top of the hot bed, we will now place a strata of well rotted leaf mold. So that will be leaf mold taken either from a leaf pit or deep in the woods somewhere, from a dell. And that we want to be about two inches—between an inch and two inches—a really good swathing. Now we will place six inches of that soil that we have just mentioned, that preparation, one-third sharp, one-third turf loam, and one-third manure.

We will plant our corms gently into the surface of that after it has been pressed down, either with a roller or by the planting boards, preferably with a roller. We will plant them just into the surface about, literally about an inch. On to that we will place a strata of sharp, very thin, for disinfectant as much as anything. On to that we will place one inch of utterly well-rotted, seed-free, rich manure, an entire strata. And on top of that we will place a thin strata of half top-soil mixed with half leaf-mold.

So now you've got your corms down at about two and one-quarter to two and one-half inch, and the whole preparation is made. Now if the weather is very severe and there is a lot of frost and ice in the district, the preferability of the coverage of the whole of that bed would be with lightly blown up pteris, that is the bracken. Or preferably to that, I mean advertant to that, if you could not get pteris—I imagine there must be plenty of pteris up in the mountains and the woods here. You have noticed?—Well, if not, fern leaves. Female fern, any of those as a covering from the climate. So that that is removable if possible the moment that the shoots begin to come through.

The foliage should be evident in six to eight weeks from those corms. You get one leaf uncurled first and then quite a long time, some weeks before the next. Now if the weather remains bad, it's perfectly feasible to leave that fern on and let the plant go through it. There's no harm in that at all. And that that would be much more likely the case in this district. Even though the pteris and the fern, you see, were sitting that depth [three to four inches thick], this plant will work through the fern perfectly simply and is aerated. Therefore it should not be disturbed, unless it is removed before the foliage becomes obvious.

At that time of year those corms will come into bloom at sixteen weeks. The first blooms will appear at fifteen to sixteen weeks. The normal period from planting a corm in really good weather, in a really good climate, is twelve weeks into bloom. At eight weeks the foliage has begun to perform pretty properly, and a month after that the blooms begin to appear. 

Those corms are now blooming for the first time and they will produce about eighteen good blooms, not first class, large for cutting. But the first two or three will be small and mini and probably should be cut off and discarded. And quite quickly will follow decent blooms that can be used for cutting. Now you must understand that what we are doing in this production. We are thinking that it is very difficult to obtain this plant, and we are growing this bed for productiveness, reproductiveness. Do you follow? Therefore, you will want a lot of little pegs.

And in this case of the De Caen—you can't possibly do it with the St. Brigid, and we shall be operating from seed with that anyway. But with the De Caen, you see, you have four colors. You sometimes get a puce. One creeps in, that's a fifth one. We won't bother about that at the moment, but you can have the five pegs if you like. Now those pegs, therefore, will have a color nomination on them. It could be those very colors, which makes that simple. Therefore, as those plants grow and the blooms come, according to which appear to be your best plants during the growing period, so you will nominate them with the pegs. Do you follow? That can be used as a cutting bed throughout the growing season which is probably four to five months. And that each of the plants which is assessed as superior shall be marked in this manner with this peg very clearly so as to be unmistakable. So it must be well-placed because the bed is very full. 

When they have died down, but are still just visible in growth, is the time to lift the whole bed. But before lifting the whole bed, those which are labeled shall be lifted each...



[Transcription 2015 by G. Haynes]



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