The wood anemone, Anemone nemorosa, is a true Cinderella plant. It shoots to stardom in a matter of weeks, accomplishing its whole cycle - flowering, pollination, setting seed then disappearing into dormancy - before the clock strikes 12.
This fleeting performance is typical of spring flowers, especially those on the woodland floor. When the canopy fills in overhead, it deprives carpeting plants of light and water and forces them into hibernation until next spring.
Many woodland plants have bulbs or tubers in which to store food until it is needed to produce new growth. Anemone nemorosa has small, skinny rhizomes that rapidly spread through leaf litter just below the surface.
Opportunists through and through, they colonise freely. Even the smallest piece of rhizome will rapidly make a new plant. As always, emulating nature is the simplest way to increase stock. Small pieces of rhizome can be broken off the parent plant and replanted with a little fresh compost or leaf mould. From one or two pots, a thriving colony can soon be established.
A planting of wood anemones can disappear on a dull day. The flowers remain closed and hang their heads, protecting delicate and precious pollen from lashing rain. When the sun shines, stems straighten and the flowers are held aloft, fully open, following the sun's course across the sky.
Please avoid walking amongst the flowers to preserve them for future generations.