Japanese Anemones, pen on paper, 18" x 6" (left side), 10/22/2014.
Amenone is a Greek word that means "daughter of the wind" -- an apt name for these flowers who do the wind's bidding; their common name is "wind flower." Ovid wrote in his Metamorphoses that they were created when Venus/Aphrodite sprinkled nectar on the blood of her dead lover, Adonis.
The Anemones are a large group of flowering plants within the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae): there are some 120 species. They're related to Hepaticas, my favorite spring woodland flower: something about this particular petal form, with its ring of stamens around a center, simply touches me.
I first discovered the fall-blooming Japanese anemones when a family friend brought a huge bouquet from her garden to my mother, that October when she was first ill. The white flowers were very delicate, moving with the slightest breeze. Sitting in a glass vase on her bedside table, their beauty and fragility seemed to affirm the truths of life itself. Along with lilies-of-the-valley - those spring flowers that bloomed at the time she died - these fall flowers became reminders and personal symbols for me.
Japanese Anemones, pen on paper, 18" x 6" (right side), 10/22/2014.
However, I had never grown them, and I had to search for a source. The more ubiquitous and tougher mauve/pink varieties were easier to find, and I also found out how invasive they can be: I now have a veritable hedge of them in my garden that has to be hacked back every spring. But it was the white ones I really wanted to grow. Finally I found a Japanese cultivar at Jardins Jasmine, a professional nursery here in Montreal. It's taken two years for the plant to become established, but this year it bloomed beautifully. I not only love the fully-open white flowers, but also the plant's form, with its tight round buds, and spherical seedpods that remain on the multi-branched stalks after the petals fall. Yesterday, after putting my garden to bed for the winter, I cut the last branches and brought them home; along with a few dahlias, they were the last plants blooming in my garden and would clearly keep going right up to frost. The flowers won't last long in the warm indoors, though, so I did a drawing, wanting to capture their essence.
A few weeks ago, the husband of that family friend died, in his mid-80s, and I thought again of the bouquet of anemones, and of those two long happy marriages. I hope the wife will find comfort in her garden and be able to make a new life for herself, as my father has: not forgetting, but still living, loving, creating, blooming.