Lazy fall gardening last year paid off with an unexpected discovery this past spring. While working from home, I noticed a female Anna’s hummingbird taking what appeared to be little bits of white cotton down from the stalks of Japanese Anemones (windflowers) that I had left standing over the winter. Upon closer examination, this hardy perennial (native to China and grown in Japan for hundreds of years), produces small clumps of downy material from the old flower heads.
Filling the void between late summer and well into fall, Japanese Anemones bloom for 6-8 weeks and their tall, graceful stems sporting flowers in white, purple, or pink, are an important late season food source for butterflies. Deer and rabbits avoid them, and they are tolerant of acid, alkaline and neutral soils and can be grown in clay, loam, sandy or chalky conditions. Full sun, partial sun, average water needs, and low maintenance once established make them perfect additions to any garden space. Be a lazy fall gardener like me and leave them standing over the winter – the hummingbirds will thank you in the spring! Photo credit: Japanese Anemones in the garden by Mary Sinker.