Tree Anemone or Carpenteria californica has a stronghold in domestic gardens thanks to the foresight and appreciation from plants hunters and renowned garden designers like Gertrude Jekyll, who in 1885 was the first to accomplish the UK flowering of this Californian shrub.
— igrowhort (@GrowTweets) June 11, 2016
I remember as a 16-year-old ‘National Trust ‘apprentice working on the hot arid, full sun terrace at ‘Powis Castle’ aptly named the Dry Terrace, we also had the Tropical Terrace, the Spring and an Autumn Terrace and of course the Main Terrace. Where the neatly clipped box edged pathway, lined the wide fertile borders crammed full with perennials of all shapes and sizes, interspersed with graceful arching stems of flowering shrubs and roses.
I digress but the memories of working with my back to the sun and the heat reflecting from these towering brick buttresses, that held the Red Castle high aloft the tumbling garden terraces are strong till this day. Rare and unusual shrubs at my adolescent fingertips I cannot fail to feel empowered having had the opportunity to work with such a diverse range of plants , fortunately, as Head Gardener I am still able to experience many of these rare and unusual shrubs first hand.
Nowadays I find that many of the plants I worked with throughout my career are reappearing in gardens that I manage today, some in the UK others in Corfu and even as far east as Poland. For example a shrub I had largely disregarding due to its shabby nature, die-back and poor effort of retaining so-called evergreen leaves appeared to be struggling in his Hertfordshire home. As such I was considering replacing the large specimen that has become overgrown and woody in the South facing a corner of the Walled Kitchen garden I manage. Then all of a sudden this the second week of June the Carpenteria comes alive with large flat pure white Anemone flowers with a pure sweet scent, a glossy green leaf with a silvery grey underside that appears to shimmers as it catches the wind.
Carpenteria californica thanks to worldwide nursery propagation is widely available to purchase for your garden and unlike the Sierra foothills where it is considered a rare native shrub there are actually a few named varieties to choose from.
C. californica ‘Bodnant’ is reportedly hardy ‘to -15c’ whereas ‘Elizabeth’ is a compact shrub with masses of smaller flowers, if large flowers are more your thing then choose ‘Ladhams’ a variety with saucer size flowers that last for several week and are bound to impress.