Mr. Bee: Long ago, Anemones planted mythological roots

They've been dormant for 10 months, but right on schedule, and just as our crocus blossoms started to fade, our anemones (Anemone blanda) emerged from their bed and began to flower.

Also known as Greek wind flowers, anemones are members of the buttercup family and native to Europe. Standing only 3 inches tall, they have 1 1/2-inch flowers that resemble small daisies with yellow centers. Flower petals are typically purple, blue, red, white or pink.

Curiously, too, anemone blossoms open on sunny days, yet close at night and on windy as well as cloudy days. But this behavior wasn't a mystery to the ancient Greeks, because their mythology clearly explained how anemones came into existence, and why their petals open and close.

Chloris, the goddess of flowers, was married to Zephyr, the god of the west wind. Anemone, on the other hand, was a minor deity who served in Chloris' court — until Chloris caught Zephyr and Anemone having a whirlwind affair.

Enraged, Chloris separated Anemone from Zephyr by banishing Anemone from her kingdom. After Anemone was separated from Zephyr, though, she died of a broken heart.

In the meantime, Zephyr resurrected Anemone as a wind flower. But after he grew tired of her, Boreas, who was the north wind, tried dating her. Except when Boreas showed up for his first date, he was so freezing-cold and windy, Anemone died again.

Legend has it, however, Anemone returns every spring, and waits for Zephyr with open petals on calm, warm and sunny days.

Perfectly suited for rock gardens, tree beds, walkway edges and the fronts of borders, anemones grow and flower well in full sun or partial shade, providing their soil drains freely. They're typically started in the fall by planting tubers (swollen underground stems) 4 to 6 inches apart and 2 to 3 inches deep.

Although, sometimes I see them at this time of year in garden centers being sold as potted plants in bloom, and these can be transplanted to a garden whenever the soil is workable.

This week in the garden

We've eaten the last onion that was sown from sets (tiny bulbs) that were started last March and harvested in July. To hold us over until this year's harvest of onions is ready, though, we've been eating home-grown chives — a self-sowing and frost-hardy herb that has a mild onion flavor similar to scallions.

Lou Boulmetis is a certified master gardener who lives in Littlestown, Pa. Call him at 1-888-727-4287 or email hippodromehatter

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