Water Avens is a Geum, this group of plants is very popular with horticulturists, there are lots of different cultivars. Some are derived from Geum rivale but others have been bred from Geum chiloense.
This is the wild type and shows the nodding nature of these flowers. The petals are apricot but there is another species called Wood avens or Herb Bennet which has smaller flowers with yellow petals, and these two interbreed. I recall a Norfolk wildlife trust reserve, Honeypot Wood which I used to visit regularly and here both species grew and you could quite easily find a complete series from water through to wood avens. Some of these intermediates were quite beautiful and delicate.
Both species produce a seed head which has hooked seeds, these also look quite attractive. Hooked seeds is quite a common feature of woodland wildflowers which is not surprising because there are quite a lot of furry woodland animals that can effect seed dispersal. Seeds dispersed by wind are not so common in woodland wildflowers which is because woods are less windy than most places.
This species likes shady places but also as the name suggests it prefers wet damp soils. I used to see it quite often when I lived in East Anglia but cant recall ever having seen it growing wild in Gloucestershire, which is not to say it does not grow here but I assume it is less common. For this reason I was very pleased to discover it growing by a pond in a garden on a recent visit to South Lodge garden in Clearwell.
I generally think that most cultivars are not an improvement on the original wild type. They are usually bigger and brighter and often different colours but usually I think they lack the subtlety and delicacy of the wild species which is after all the product of thousands of years of evolution. Whereas the the cultivar will be the product of just a few years intensive cross pollination and then a rapid breeding program, followed by as short advertising campaign, maybe a R.H.S. medal, a few years of sales and then probably obscurity.
However some Geums are quite attractive and maybe are worth the effort, here are a few. All these photos were taken as I said in a garden in Clearwell, Gloucestershire which is the village where I live. However it was not my garden it is a garden at South Lodge, it was once part of the Clearwell Castle. This garden is open to the public as part of the National Garden scheme. It is well worth a visit. Here are a few other photos I took whilst photographing the Water avens.