This spring, two perennials that may tempt you at nurseries are Anemone canadensis and its kin Anemone sylvestris. Both have really pretty white flowers that may stop you in your tracks, but be cautious, both are very aggressive plants. If you're aware of this and can choose a location where their spread can be curtailed, adding them to your shopping cart won't be something you come to regret.
As you probably know, I usually shy away from aggressive plants. I've had too many problems with them in the past. Groundcovers, like Anemone canadensis, do have their uses such as under a large tree. That's exactly where I have this spring perennial.
In early June, the small area under our black walnut tree is a sea of little white flowers. It has colonized the entire area crowding out my hostas. I ended up having to transplant the hostas to another part of the garden. Thankfully a rocky lip generally keeps Anemone canadensis's spread in check on all sides. Even so, it occasionally pops up in the adjacent pathway, where I have to pull it out.
Anemone canadensis makes a great understory for spring bulbs. Late flowering tulips, daffodils and alliums look even nicer with a carpet of white at their feet.
Anemone canadensis is a North American native that can be found growing in dense colonies on river margins and in moist meadows. This is a plant that's adaptive to a range of conditions and can easily be grown in average, well-drained soil. In my garden, it gets morning sun and afternoon shade.
Meadow Anemone or Windflower, Anemone canadensis has upward facing white flowers on erect hairy stems. The plant has a mounded shape and deeply-cut, shiny green leaves. Again, this is not a perennial for a mixed flowerbed. This plant spreads by creeping rhizomes and is best left to naturalize in a controlled area. Height: 30-60 cm (12-23 inches), Spread: 30-60 cm (12-23 inches). USDA zones: 3-8.
Anemone sylvestris is native to Europe and Asia. The flowers are a little larger than those of Anemone canadensis and stand higher above the plant. Anemone sylvestris and Anemone canadensis have a similar mounded shape, but the foliage of Anemone sylvestris is a lighter, matt-green.
Again, Anemone sylvestris is a spreader that can quickly dominate an area. The best place to use a plant like this is in a garden bed with a clearly defined edge that can control its spread.
Here and in the two of images above is Anemone sylvestris
Private garden in Mississauga, ON.
My experience of this second anemone is rather brief. Anemone sylvestris has been on hold in my nursery bed while I decide where I'd be brave enough to plant it.
On a recent garden tour, I had an opportunity to ask another gardener about her experience with its aggressive nature. She found it did spread, but was not the worst behaved plant in her garden.