Alan Chadwick a Gardener of Souls

Lecture by Alan Chadwick in New Market, Virginia, 1979


Lecture 12: Anemone Culture, Part 3

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

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From seed, you can have blooms in seven months. It is possible to have anemones throughout the fall, winter, and spring, by using frames. Pteris, bracken fern, is excellent for frost protection and disinfectant. Do not force the anemone in hot houses, it won't work. Don't let it bloom twice in the year or it will exhaust the corm. The anemone is primarily a cut flower. The myth of the red anemone. Alan supplied the queen of England with anemones, she would not buy fron anyone else. The specified stratifications are very important. The colors of the de Caen anemone are utterly classic and deep. Do not to allow the de Caen and the St. Bridgit to cross polinate, or the colors will become adulterated. A note on French geography and the wild anemones. (15:09)



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


The Anemone, Part 3 in frames. Therefore, from seed into bloom… Now if you had left those corms in the ground, that you purchased, they would come into bloom at the end of that year, providing the climate was satisfactory. If not, they would wait until the next spring. So when you have got a thoroughly satisfactory climate, after you have sown the seed, you can produce blooms from that corm, from that seed that year, in seven months. Do you follow?

Now you will perceive that by sowing seed either in the fall or the early spring, you can reproduce blossoming throughout the fall, and the winter and the spring. And, therefore, if you manipulate this growing in frames in the same manner as the beds made in the frames exactly, exactly the same manner, you can have a whole frame full of anemones, if you will plant those corms. And you see, for frame ones you want your third and fourth year. Your very best. And the others you will be growing in a bed, and using. And that you may play this by planting in August, you see, the corm. You begin at fourteen to fifteen weeks into bloom and as the winter comes on and the weather gets very cold you will go into sixteen and seventeen weeks into bloom. So, you simply nominate your dates of sowing and you can have relays of frames: coming into bloom; in full bloom; next lot coming on; going out of bloom; taking out; putting in the French beans or the lettuce in place. Do you follow?

And, therefore, you have an enormous thing. On Long Island I had these frames made the moment that I was building these gardens and, of course, I had anemones from Christmas onwards which astonished everybody. And you see with all the snow on the lights, on the mats, still these anemones and the lettuce all performing. There is no difficulty. You must, of course, take those provisions to prevent the severe freezings of below zero going right into the bed, for that would destroy it. So again you would use pteris. You remember that I have remarked about the great miracle of pteris. Pteris actually prevents freezing from entering the soil. It is like the most eiderdown-eiderdown-eiderdown in its lightness. And the lighter you use it, the most eiderdown it is. It equally prevents scorch and "dryth" from entering the ground. It's a most bewildering and astonishing protective and, of course, does in time make the most exquisite disinfectant soil, and is beautiful for growing all bulbs and corms in. In time you can imagine it is this light, beautiful light spongy loam soil.

Therefore, do not attempt to grow the anemone De Caen or St. Brigid in the glass house in heat. It won't work. So you start off all through the winter with your frames and then you go into your spring beds. And you are making the utmost of your anemones. You have got bloom going on there seven months. 

Now should you go to such an area as the Mediterranean or California, you will find that if you left... Now you could leave your corms in the beds here if you covered them, through the winter and that they would come on of themselves. And that this very useful when you do the nurseryfication of the first-year seedlings for they're very finicky and tiny. And, therefore, to leave them in the bed and cover it well with pteris and with lights of some sort, or with cloche or bell, they would come up the next year and you would pursue the same thing. And that bed would be perfectly ordinate, because of its preparation, to perform again the second year. So it is very advisable.

Now this is a matter to beware that in a good climate, that is a ten-month performing climate, that anemone would try to bloom in September and would also want to bloom again, having died down after the November and Christmas issue of eighteen blooms, it would again want to come up and bloom in May and June. And that the corm would not be able to supply the issue of. Now it’s very interesting that that little corm has only the tiniest of roots. Many bulbs, like gladioli have very little root, dahlias, out of their tubers have very little root at all. In other words, they're growing out of the Revolutionibus much more than out of the Ahrimanic. And therefore, you would have to lift to prevent this or your corm would be finished after the one year performance of two blooms. That is just a note that you must remember. 

Of course, where you are growing the whole of this bed or these beds as a cut flower crop, and it is particularly as a cut flower… It is not a vastly desirable flower for instance, in the herbaceous borders, either the annual or perennial, not, not  really. In a rockery, some of them like the apenina and the multipulata are very charming. But I am talking about this today and the study is all towards a cut flower.

And when I was in New York and stayed with some very important people, I had to give them a little gift. And I knew that she loved anemones. And I went to one of the florist's. I was there at Christmas. And I said, “Ah, the very thing,” because I know that she loves a bunch of anemones. There they were, these wonderful Adonis, the blood of, as you know… Apollo killed Adonis by mistake. And this wonderful red at Christmas, and I said I was thinking of six bunches. I said how much?. He said $10.00 a bunch, a dozen. Ten dollars! I supplied Buckingham Palace. I supplied the Queen. She wouldn't get them from anywhere else. And I used to sell them at ten pence a dozen. And I made the most fantastic profit. So that I paid for my whole farm in one year—the laying out of it, the buying of it and everything, almost off this alone. For I used to collect thousands and thousands and thousands every other day. 

Now out of this method of growing in this way… You see frequently you will find in the market that you will get a little stalk so high and that's very finicky in a little vase. But with this method, even with the coldest weather with these coverages, with this intense manuring, you get the utmost fertility and you will get a stalk of that length. And that's a very different matter in cut flowers. And that's what you want to go for. And you won't lose the quality of you blossom by the length of the stalk, because of this beautiful fertility of the soil. But you must remember those stratifications I have given you. They are absolutely adamant and predominant. Absolute. 

Now, there is a matter that has to be looked at. The De Caen is what you might call a "classic." You know that the ranunculus that you purchase, the [Troilus?] ranunculus, they're all double, and they look rather like a Venetian carnival and fireworks. When you come to look at those in bloom—and you know they are very Lipstick Pink, Wicked Yellow, Love Citron Lemon Acid, all the tricks of colors at their most festivalia wickedness—and suddenly you look at this great classical anemone and you see that this intense color is incredibly classic and deep and subtle. And this other looks like a “ha ha ha ha haa” business. And it’s very interesting this.

Now, do you see, with the St. Brigid, that they are none of them a complete color. They're various colors. Rainbow mixed up in them. And that the edges of the petals are broken and finicky, and that they’re very double. And therefore even when they open full, or when they close less, can you say that they are a consummate color? They’re very mixed up. As nearly always happens, if they are anywhere near the De Caen, and you are producing seed, they will consummate the marriage and they will [flitch?], and turn all the De Caen into… gradually into St. Brigids. Do you follow? Therefore you must use entirely satisfactory separation. In fact, it’s better not to produce them the same year for seed. And remember, of course, that the blossom will produce [abomination?], so that you’ve got to make a very good separation. I personally do not grow, and have not grown, when I was growing these commercially, I did not grow the St. Brigid in the gardens at all, for that reason. Safety.

There is no method of inducing the color; the color is there. In other words, do you see, the De Caen is origin. You realize that De Caen is a town in France? It was one of the last great standings in the war that the Americans held when the Germans threw all of their kids into the front. And also St. Brigid is a town in France. So they were both created there. If you go down to Cannes and you take the tram, and you go up into the mountains, the [ ] mountains at the back of Cannes, some forty miles up. An open tram you can sit in, you will go up. And suddenly, you will begin to see all of these anemones. The apeninas, which are about twenty-petaled, vermilion, all with ebony-black centers. And all of these flowers are just sheets and swards in the meadows. And there they grow wild.

And there, of course, they also grow all the violets, and the freesia for the great scent factory. And we are now approaching Graatz in this little rumbling tram running all through these enormous pastures. And then you look out and you realize how all the Phoenicians came in the ships from Persia and such places, and the Egyptians, and all of this was perceived. And that they had all of these flowers at this time. As the Egyptians loved the nicotiana. And so… the clock goes round, and so we’ve had our subject this morning.

And so you could go on in divertissement with the utter exquisiteness of these flowers and the charm. If you grow this De Caen properly, and we’ve had great tragedy with this here, and I won’t touch on it. It’s just too, too upsetting. When you grow it properly, you will go into ecstasies with its beauty, in the middle of winter when you have nothing but hollies [ ]. So do work at it. If you wish to, we’ll set about some method of bringing about immediately. In which case you must talk with Warren. And in which case, I must go to [ ] and try to get a few corms, that you can have a frame of, or something. For we have none of them. Will you do that?

Have you any… Do you want to discuss it? Have you any questions?


Q. The ones that did make it, I seemed to notice that the heat robbed the color. The heat and intensity of the summer seemed to rob the color.

A. Yes. I would prefer that you don’t discuss... I personally have not discussed this matter. I didn’t wish to bring it up. The whole thing is hideous. The beds were an outrage. There was no performance of what I am talking about now. Do you understand? And that was partly because, partly because there wasn’t time. And it was also principally because I could not contribute my hands and labor to it. There is no difficulty with sun. It is an absolute sun lover. The more sunshine you have during any period of spring. But it is not a summer flower. As the heat of the summer comes, at the end of May, so they will go out of perfection of bloom. You can still run into June. But even in California, in that terrible Covelo in a hundred and twenty, I still had excellent blooms in June. Some of you, some one or two of you might remember. No, probably not.

I do Alan.

You do? And so you can see the number of tens of thousands of blooms you can cut from one bed. And that cutting can take place two and three times per week in those beds. It's an exorbitant gift. The incredible excitement of happiness.

Thank you, Alan, that answered my question beautifully.

Yes, good. 

Q. Alan, if you are lifting your corms, those that you are not to use for seed the next year, is it best to let the plant die down completely? 

A. No. Yes, it is, but it's inadvisable because of finding them. Now if your bed is thoroughly well prepared and the soil is perfect, that's all right...





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