Like many California gardeners, I planted Anemone bulbs for years and enjoyed the cut flowers they provided. At the same time I discovered in florist shops bigger, stronger and better Anemones that my garden could produce. The florist quality Anemones cost about one dollar per stem, so a decent bouquet ran at least $15.00.

As matters evolved, it turned out that these florist Anemones were a strain called “Mona Lisa,” aptly named for the beauty in the famous portrait, later popularized by the Nat King Cole song.These Anemones were grown from seed, not bulbs, and were not available to us every day gardeners.

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Finally, much to my delight, the plants that produce the Mona Lisa Anemone flowers found their way to one of Rogers Gardens best growers, to the nursery in four inch pots and finally to my garden where I have been growing them with great results for the last several years.

The Mona Lisa Anemones are now my absolute favorite for winter cut flowers. Unlike most other inter-spring cut flowers, there is little waiting for these Anemones to bloom. I planted a dozen big pots full about two weeks ago and found my first bud about to open this morning. (If you have read my columns before, you might recall that my yard has nothing but wretched adobe clay soil, so I grow cut flowers………Sweet Peas, Anemones, Ranunculus, Dahlias and more…..in large pots of good potting soil.) Point being that they are both good garden and pot plants.

The Mona Lisas have strong stems for good cutting, grow from compact plants that top out at about ten inches and keep producing flowers until the weather turns hot.

Colors include white, orchid, blue, red, and my favorite, one called Wine Shades,and some bi-color mixes of white and one of the other colors. The stems are best cut in the cool of the morning just before the buds open. The cut flowers will last a week. A word of warning, Mona Lisas drink the water in their vases, so keep an eye on the water level.

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