Irish Independent Weekend Magazine | 28 March 2015
I can’t remember the last time I allowed a blood red flower into my garden. I am not sure how my avoidance of all things red started but whenever a blood red poppy happens to open its petals, it is always swiftly taken out and transplanted to other places, never quite feeling a part of the scheme. My own garden you see is a mad mix of cherry-magenta pinks with dusty rose accents. Black purples and soft lilacs are underlined with lots of lime green structure and the occasional spot of soft yellow and whites. Quite romantic really so red always felt a little too daring.
Then recently I came across the Blood red Anemone from the Mona Lisa series and before I knew it the fiery mix of magenta pinks and blood reds had found their way into a slightly bare spring border at the patio.
This particular series of early bloomers which I found at Homeland in Sligo has a lovely mix of magentas, purples and reds which shouldn’t but actually do work really well together. The perennial Anemone or Windflower as it is also known, is part of the Ranunculaceae family and is native to Eastern parts of the Mediterranean and Asia. The most common Anenome we would have here in Ireland is the Anenome blanda, the delicate and elegant semi-shade loving purple or white flowered Spring bloomer. The more dramatic Mona Lisa series is the result of fifty years of breeding and is a particularly vibrant and reliable plant. I planted these up in my own garden en masse, covering an area of about 1m by 1.5m in a mix of the colours in a random shaped format, making sure that there is not too much symmetry in the plants. This works really well and creates a sort of tapestry of colours that look like they grew naturally.
The name windflower is thought to come from a statement by Pliny that the blossoms open in the wind which is a lovely sentiment. It is said that the Romans used it to prevent fever, bruising and even cure freckles!
On reading up more on the pretty plant I found out that has some wonderfully dramatic associations. One of my favourite stories in Greek mythology is that of Adonis and Aphrodite. It is a classic myth which deals with the changing of the seasons, the struggle between life and death and of course lust and rejection. Like any good Greek myth, tragedy is not far. The end of the story sees Adonis, a handsome young man who is destined to live between the underworld and the overworld and torn between the love of two women, lying mortally wounded after being injured hunting. Aphrodite, who rushed to his side in her swan drawn chariot uses drops of blood from her lover and turns them into wildflowers- the shortlived blood red Anenome.
Well, if that story doesn’t give red a place in my border, nothing will.
One of the most beautiful gardens I have ever visited is Helen Dillon’s garden in Ranelagh. Even at this time of the year the lovely and talented plantwoman’s garden is full of colour and beauty. Helen’s garden is open for visitors from March which you can book online on her website. She also gives gardening lessons which run on some Saturdays from March to July. For more go to dillongarden.com