hjobertIt’s possible that the Perennial Plant Association is reading my mind. This year, another of my favorites has been named as the PPA Perennial Plant of the Year: Anemone x hybrida ‘Honorine Jobert.’ Graceful, hardy and a stunning addition to the fall garden, Honorine richly deserves her award.

I first came across this pure white windflower hybrid in Christopher Lloyd’s Succession Planting for Year-Round Pleasure (2005) and his descriptions and photos were such that I sought it out for myself. It’s been around a very long while – which can sometimes spell trouble in a marketplace ruled by the newest and bluest – but it was surprisingly easy to find.

It has an Asian heritage, was hybridized in France, but performs beautifully in American gardens against some of our native berried shrubs in the autumn when color is at a premium. Here you see it contrasting brightly with Ilex verticillata ‘Winter Red.’

Windflowers as a whole do well in light shade (light, mind you), but need well draining soil, as they do not tolerate wet cold roots in the winter. They are one of those plants whose foliage you’ll have to work around in the spring and summer for an eventual autumn pop – but the trade-off is fantastic, and the foliage is attractive in its own right.

hjobert2Plants are clump forming, and the long stems (3-4 feet) give a graceful airiness to your flower beds, certainly illustrating their common name, ‘windflower.’

My experience is that they are heavy drinkers, so this isn’t one for your xeriscaped garden. A reasonably constant level of moisture in your soil should suffice. It’s always difficult to walk the line between plants that need moisture retention in the summer and well-drained soil in the winter, but making sure your soil contains a great deal of organic material makes a huge difference. You may start with clay or sand – but what you do next is the important bit.

Otherwise, Honorine (and anemone hybrids in general) are very low maintenance – I don’t have much trouble with pests on this one. I don’t like to stake it, as I feel it interferes with its graceful habit – but it can get a bit floppy. Better to interplant it with strong-stemmed stalwarts that will support and provide contrast. USDA Zones 4-8