The other day, on a beautiful sunny afternoon, walking near Tostat, this plant stopped me in my tracks. A friend took a photograph which we analysed when we got home, all having decided that the leaves were anemone-like. Which they are, as it is a rare cottage garden favourite from Southern France, Anemone fulgens x Multipetala. I had never seen it before, and there it was, flowering in some longish couchgrass outside a gate, and yes, it really is this colour. Postbox red, with these fantastic fringed flowers, almost like a Japanese chrysanthemum, it sat there humbly at a modest 30ms or so high.
Searching through obscure internet references, it seems as if this fabulous plant was once a cottage garden favourite in the Southern half of France, although some sites mention that it is a bulb that enjoys winter damp, which is not what you might imagine. There are very few nurseries that appear to stock it, and of course, now is not the time to buy it, as it is in full flower. It’s dormancy period will be July onwards before the bulb starts to gear up for flowering in March and April.
So, the hunt is on. Starting with going back to where I saw it, and enquiring if I can collect some seed later on. It may well be that the house owners have no idea of what is sitting just outside their garden gate. The great Bob Brown, of Cotswold Garden Flowers fame, does give it a mention in his plant encyclopedia, and he seems pretty taken with it, too. Reliably super-hardy and early to flower, with such an arresting colour, it’s a treat not to be missed.