Flirting with danger

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It was my first plant shopping trip this spring and I made an impulse purchase of a perennial called Anemone sylvestris. Now, remembering my Latin (which I just learned), its name means “anemone of the forest” –nice.

In the past I’ve tried and failed to grow a sweet native-Oregon wildflower called Columbian windflower or western white anemone (Anemone deltoidea). So when I found this small spring-blooming white Anemone sylvestris (what’s its common name? doesn’t it have to have a common name?), it was not the windflower I wanted, but maybe one that would live. For sale. Looking pretty. So I bought it.

Anemone sylvestris

Then I came home and read about it online after which I very nearly composted this plant.

Remarks ranged from “needs a bit of room to spread” to “invasive is putting it mildly.”  (Turns out the common name might be Hellish Anemone or just Big Mistake.) Having dealt recently with the lesser celandine eradication drama I was hugely wary of  introducing to my garden another selfish thoughtless bully of a plant.

Lesser Celandine Burial Mound

Then there came a warm sunny day and OMG I planted the Anemone sylvestris anyway!

Anemone sylvestris

I put it in the clay earth (don’t say “dirt” unless you want Kininvie to scold you because in Scotland you say “soil” and dirt is something else and very unpleasant), and the clay is usually enough to slow any roots if not kill them altogether, but there are also dark rumors about the seeds…

So um, do you maybe know anything about this plant? Is it safe? Will I rue the day I handed over the $8 for it? Why doesn’t it have a lovely common name like a decent law-abiding plant?

(There is still plenty of vacant space in the burial mound, just say the word.)

Update on Anemone sylvestris:  I was convinced by all the positive comments (see below) and I am keeping this cute plant!


Special Announcement

In the dangerous food department, I have discovered rhubarb crumble.

rhubarb crumble

This dessert is especially dangerous for the rhubarb plants which I suppose need to keep a few stalks for themselves, but it is also dangerously addictive which I expect is why my mother never made it for me. (That plus she’d likely never heard of it.)

rhubarb plant

I discovered rhubarb crumble on some favorite blogs and then researched this simple-looking dessert online. What could make people say such rapturous things about it? Ah innocent curiousity! There are many recipes. I’ve tried several. Here’s an easy one I like.

Rhubarb Crumble recipe

You mix this up in a bowl:
2 cups of cut rhubarb (1″ pieces)
2-3 tablespoons of strawberry freezer jam (or some sliced fresh strawberries which I don’t have right now)
1/2 cup sugar
3-4 tablespoons of flour
Put the rhubarb mix into a baking dish.
Then mix 1 cup of flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 cup sugar
Melt 1/4 cup of melted butter and stir it in until you have little pebbly mix.
(Sometimes I add a little vanilla.)
Spread this flour mix on top of the rhubarb and bake at 375 degrees F. for 40-50 minutes.


Warm rhubarb crumble is actually enhanced by adding homemade ice cream made with a large dose of brandy. (Surprise.)

Mr O shares my addiction for RC (rhubarb crumble– in code) and really we may just go completely to the Crumble Diet, forsaking all other foods until the rhubarb row is dead and we have to stop.

There. Don’t say I never warn you about stuff.

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About linniew

Unpublished novelist seeks therapy in gardening. Westie assists.
This entry was posted in actual plants, cooking and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

47 Responses to Flirting with danger

  1. Greggo says:

    Your trying to make me fatter by looking at the crumble, bumble. A few of my garden thugs are also in their third year, as in they leap. Sleep, creep and leap. Anyways thugs are all about how hard you want to work I suppose. The crack about Oz on my post was awesome. ……..I’m back by the way.

    • linniew says:

      Hiya Greggo!
      Yes I didn’t want to talk about the calories. I cut the butter quantity in half, but still. Seems to me you might have made a quick visit to Oz after all, but glad you made it back…
      🙂 L

  2. Your Anemone sylvestris is so beautiful. I hope it’s not too invasive, though it seems like an awfully beautiful invader.

    I know why they call that dessert a crumble. Your description and that photo makes my willpower crumble into dust.

  3. Aimee says:

    Good luck with that windflower! If it begins to misbehave, perhaps you could dig it up, pot it up, and plant the pot in the ground to still enjoy the flowers but contain the mischief? That’s what I’m planning to do with my Monarda this year (see – there’s a plant that DOES have a lovely common name – Bee Balm – but that doesn’t stop it from being a big old bully in my garden, running everywhere.

    About 30 seconds before reading this post I nearly finished off the last of my strawberry-rhubarb pie (saved ONE bite for my husband). We went to a pie party on Saturday night, where my pie one 2nd place, woo hoo! I bought more rhubarb than I needed for it, so it looks like I’m going to have to make some RC! (and perhaps pick up some ice cream and brandy!) Glad to be catching up with you again. 🙂

    • linniew says:

      Dear Pie Queen,
      Congratulations on the winning pie! Making pie is no small undertaking. You will find the crumble to be easy peasy by comparison.

      MY monarda shrank to nothing– trying to revive it this year from a tiny remaining bit–so maybe the windflower will be no match for the clay soil either. I might even give it a little compost, just to dance with death so to speak.

  4. The anemone might have a spreading habit, but it’s a spring flower so it will do it’s thing in your borders in April/May and then take a back stage to whatever else you have growing there, acting as a simple groundcover until the leaves die away. As the roots are fairly shallow and horizontal I don’t think they’ll get in the way of summer-flowering perennials, and anyway they’re not too difficult to rip up with the bare hands or a small gardening fork if you decide to get rid of it.

    (Can you tell I love this plant? Every spring I go out into the forest and pick large bunches of this small, delicate flower that form white carpets on the floor of the Danish beech forests.)

    • linniew says:

      THAT IS JUST WHAT I WAS HOPING TO HEAR– Thanks Søren! That the roots are shallow is very comforting. I hope you will post pictures of the windflower growing in the Danish beech woods.

      • They are normally not much more than an inch beneath the surface, and when picking the flowers you occasionally rip up parts of the root by accident… That kind of shows that it should be quite easy to rip out if necessary, but I don’t think it will be.

        Now, rhubarb crumble… Mmmm…

  5. Jeannine says:

    I love rhubarb and can’t wait to try this recipe. Thanks for sharing!

  6. b-a-g says:

    I bet there’s a slug fest going on under that tarpaulin. I think lesser celandine and anemone are both in the buttercup family – but I’m not implying anything.

    Being a connoisseur of crumbles, my only modifications to your recipe would be :
    – Don’t measure the butter, just keep adding it till the mixture gets clogged. Big lumps are good. (Not very healthy though)
    – Don’t take it out of the oven till the syrupy juice bubbles over. The chewy edge is the tastiest bit.

    • linniew says:

      It is my sincere hope that the grave barrow will lure the slugs, draw their fire so to speak.

      Somehow I SUSPECTED you would know your crumbles b-a-g! Yes butter is likely the key ingredient here, and that chewy edge…It is nice to be in the company of an experienced crumbler.

  7. Grace says:

    Me, me! (Yes I want to eat my computer screen but that’s not what I’m me, me-ing about.) I have Anemone sylvestris and yes it does branch out a bit not invasively, at least in my humble garden. Also, it blooms in spring AND fall. I can’t predict how it will behave in your garden though but I don’t think you’ll have another Celandine on your hands. Now, why did I get rid of my rhubarb plant?

    • linniew says:

      Gracie I am quite comforted that you happily grow the anemone– I am getting very near to disregarding all the fear-mongering about it and just enjoying the blooms and feathery foliage and the fall repeat bloom too.

      You probably got rid of your rhubarb plant because they are so dang big.

  8. Alberto says:

    My dad has a long series of failures with growing rhubarb, so I never dare to give it a try in the ground nor I’ve never tasted it. Your crumble looks so delicious I can’t imagine how you Americans could make a cake with cups and spoons… I mean hey they invented grams or other more precise ways to measure flour and sugar and stuff. Ps your rhubarb Lager is terrific!

    As for the anemone it is a lovely flower. Yes it spreads a little but not much really. The anemone sylvestris I brought home from the woods when I was a child was shorter than yours but your is American so maybe it is normal bigger standard. After a few years it disappeared, fagocitated by the clay. You might have a chance of surviving.

    • linniew says:

      Dear Alberto
      It is time for you to overcome the family curse and grow rhubarb. Rhubarb thrives on neglect. If you don’t water it then it just goes away and comes back with the rain of the spring. I’ll send you a root of it when I send the Oceanspray cutting which is underway as both a stem cutting AND a layered propagation, very exciting and one of them is bound to work so remember to save room for this big frothy shrub or decide which olive tree is going.

      Interesting to hear of the the rhubarb lager (rhubarb lager?) because I have not come across it here.

      About the measuring. I believe you are being pro-metric. Fine. I have no problem with you using those measurements that all sound alike and make me crazy, but I just got a nice set of measuring spoons with long handles and they work great. When they are worn out from holding tiny portions of cinnamon and salt well then I promise to go metric.

      Now I must make a confession. I thought you made up the word fagocitated. Or that it had something to do with dying from smoking. But it seems to be a real word that seems to mean absorbed? and I expect that is exactly what happend to the anemone as you say. Forgive my doubts.

      • Alberto says:

        To be honest the right verb is to phagocytize, I just didn’t check the spelling and wrote it the italian way. Ok let’s say I made it up, sorry.

        I don’t know about rhubarb but if you grow it with success, hey, I can do it too!

        I think ‘lager’ was another misunderstanding! I meant Lager as ‘field’ in German, a term used to define the detention compounds for Jewish with Hitler, and your rhubarb are here on the verge of forgetfulness until you feel like having a dessert…
        I think you instead meant lager as beer?

        • linniew says:

          Well of course I thought of lager as Beer Alberto! (I did study German but I didn’t learn to translate that word beyond beer.)

          Don’t you find our language misunderstandings to be interesting? Really I have as much confusion (and fun) with British English as I have with your transitions from Italian.

          • Alberto says:

            I find them awkward instead! Being European I’d like my English to be British, even though in the blogosphere I pick up random words from both Americans and European English. I’d be a little posh on that.
            And next time I’d like you to refer to my ‘transitions’ as creative writing, thanks. 🙂

            PS: I was sure you meant beer, how naive from me to hope you’d notice the capital L!

            • linniew says:

              Dear Creative Writer Alberto

              I think I’ve mentioned before that when in parts of the US (San Antonio and Boston) it was touch-and-go for me to understand the language, rather like when I tried to shop in London… When we communicate here we’re all writing creatively some of the time.

              I thought the capital on Lager was a typo.

  9. I have the same anemone and it’s easily controlled. When it looks weedy this summer, just whack it back and pull up any volunteers you don’t want. I actually have a picture of my anemone patch on my blog right now. Your crumble looks delish!

    • linniew says:

      Thanks for letting me know to visit your blog today– your anemone plants in the images are just what I was hoping for — I will fear them no more forever. You have a gorgeous garden rolling along already this spring Tammy!

  10. Holleygarden says:

    That anemone is just beautiful. I hope it’s not too invasive. I have the same problem with a salvia that I researched after I bought it. Some (but not all – thus I still have hope) say that it’s invasive. I give it the evil eye every day. So far, it’s behaving. 🙂

    • linniew says:

      Oh Holley you made me laugh so much! The evil eye. Why didn’t I think of that? It should be on the plant-care tags: “Plant in partial shade in well-drained soil, give evil eye daily.”

  11. Roberta says:

    You do know that all I want to do is grow rhubarb now, right?

    • linniew says:

      Rhubarb is cool because it’s perennial and exotic looking in addition to being food. And if you have any leaves left after all the rhubarb crumble why then you can use them to mold those concrete leaves to put around the garden, something I must admit I haven’t tried yet.

      • Roberta says:

        I think we should start an adult version of a scout troop – maybe Garden Scouts and we can do all of these fun projects – hypertufa planters, concrete leaves, birdbaths and feeders, potato towers. The list is endless.

        • linniew says:

          This is a sound idea ‘berta. I’ll meet you in maybe California and we’ll do projects. We can earn hypertufa badges maybe. Or maybe we’ll just sit on the beach and drink and think about doing projects but really plan plots for novels…

  12. kininvie says:

    Hi Linnie, You do know about forcing rhubarb, don’t you? Doing you work for you, as so often, I can tell you that the common name for anemone sylvestris is ‘Snowdrop anemone’ – which is highly appropriate, I think, unlike some other common names I could mention, such as Stinking Willy (senecio jacobeae)

    • linniew says:

      Dear Kininvie,
      I would never presume to force my rhubarb to do anything against its will. It is really very well-behaved and doesn’t deserve such treatment.

      Snowdrop anemone? Well I guess it’s more polite sounding than Stinking Willie but to me the bloom doesn’t look at all like a snowdrop. It looks like an anemone. A white one. Maybe we should call it Gothic Anemone, because it’s pale and apparently threatening to some gardeners. But doesn’t the Latin mean Woods Anemone? (Among other things I do rely upon you for my Latin translations you know K.)

      • kininvie says:

        Dear Linnie,
        In the particular case of rhubarb, forcing is desirable – because of the delicious results. Just place something big like a black rubbish bin with several large holes in the bottom to let the light in upside down over the rhubarb before it starts growing in spring. Anything that will force it to grow upwards towards the light…. Result: longer, sweeter, earlier, and more tender stems.

        • linniew says:

          Have you tried this Kininvie?

          • kininvie says:

            Of course. It’s actually a common practice. In fact many commercial growers start their rhubarb in near darkness with just a bit of light from above. You get beautiful pink, sweet stems, which you can eat raw. You can’t do this all season of course – just for two or three weeks at the start.

  13. atemp says:

    Invasive plants, evil eyes, and dangerous crumbles. You should have a warning label on your blog 🙂

    • linniew says:

      Oh Sheila, this is really a warm and cuddly blog. And if you feel the least bit anxious do just visit this post designed to comfort: Sweetness & Light. I sincerely love that you have visited me here, and I know you’ll be fine soon. 🙂
      xo L

  14. Linnie,
    I’ve heard it called Wood Anemone, and my understanding is that it spreads, but is not invasive. Here’s a link to information on invasive species in Oregon (http://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/unitedstates/or.shtml) if you want to check that for comfort. Plants that are invasive in one state are often fine in another. As an example, I LOVE Nandina domestica (Heavenly Bamboo) which is invasive in some places but not here in Maryland.

    The rhubarb crumble sounds yummy. My addition would be adding chopped pecans to the crumb topping. Maybe I do want to grow rhubarb….

    • linniew says:

      Thanks for the reassurance on the anemone Peggy. (I love blog therapy.) You have good recipe instincts I think– pecans, or almonds or hazelnuts–I will need to experiment too. And yes, rhubarb close at hand is a very good situation.

  15. Ruth says:

    I wonder if that’s the same as a Japanese anemone, which bloom in autumn here and come in shades of pale pink and white. I was quite keen on putting one in, until I read about how they self seed/take over. So I didn’t get one, however I could probably be persuaded to quite easily, especially if yours turns out to not be so bad! I’ll be watching your blog eagerly to follow its progress!

    PS I’m glad you posted about rhubarb. Mine needs a good hack back and crumble would be just the thing, especially since I have a few late strawberries too.

    • linniew says:

      Hi Ruth–
      Japanese anemone is different, taller and late summer-fall blooming. I’ve grown it for years and it does spread by shallow roots underground (I’ve never had it send seeds off to new beds) but is so pretty and I don’t have much trouble keeping it in bounds. It must be kept watered and that can be my biggest challenge here if August is hot.

      I think I might make more rhubarb crumble today. Or tomorrow. Or both.

  16. The common name of A. sylvestris is snowdrop anemone. I have never heard of it being invasive, in fact, it is short-lived in my garden. Are you sure you weren’t reading about the native wood anemone which spreads very aggressively? Can’t remember the botanical name. I planted it in my woodland and had to rip it all out the next year.

    • linniew says:

      Well I TRIED to research Anemone sylvestris but who knows if that is really what was being discussed? Sounds like my plant was taking the rap for some completely different criminal. (I get that language from this crime drama I’ve been watching on Netflix…) With all the great input here (and yours counts a lot Carolyn!) I was confident to move this anemone to a bed of better soil and exposure and I even divided it so there are two clumps and I am totally pleased to think of it filling in around the ferns and other resident perennials. (I think I saw a neighborhood welcome party going on out there just last night.)

  17. Cathy says:

    Linnie, I took an unplanned “sabbatical” (too much to do, not enough time to do it!) and I sure did miss your posts! Reading this motivated me to go back and read more of what I’ve been missing. Now my side is aching from laughing! Enjoy your anemone…. I should have some well behaved clematis for you this year BTW!

    • linniew says:

      Oh yes it’s spring at last. Finally we have sun and it is actually possible to SEE the plants growing, especially the so-called lawn, up up up. Jungle time. Nice to have you back Cathy!

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