March 14, 2010

Ordering Tree Peonies- My Invitation to 'Abundant Pleasure'

'Angelete' is a new, practically undefinable color in Tree Peonies in golden ambery peach.
'Black Panther' is a dark, royal burgundy Tree Peony. How, how, how can I choose?!

Modern Tree Peonies are more complex genetically, and many offer new colors never seen before in the world of Peonies. This strawberry colored variety is called 'Banquet', and is available at Song Sparrow Nursery via mail order.

'Chromotella' is a new offering in tree peonies, this year T the Song Sparrow site. Not new to culture though, it was introduced in 1928 by the noted hybridizer Victor Lemoine. It is a hybrid of Paeonia lutea, and it's stong base of yellow make it highly collectable.
'Shimane Cho Juraka' (Long Life) Japanese Moutan Tree Peony

'Yachiyo Tsubaki' (Eternal Camellias) Japanese Moutan Tree Peony

I've been thinking about tree peonies lately, and struggling over the many choices for Tree Peonies available from my favorite source, Klehms Song Sparrow Nursery, ( their plant are huge, shipped in well packed containers, and always arrive in tip top shape). Pricey? Yes, but with these sorts of plants, you want quality, and the Song Sparrow Nursery won't let you down. No bare root, poly bagged junk here, instead, you get a gallon size pot with a well established plant.

I'm designing a new tree peony garden to replace the tropical garden in front of the greenhouse. Here, the soil is soft and deep, and easy to care for since a blue stone walk separates it from the rest of the garden. The deep stone foundation of the greenhouse helps protect the soil from really deep freezes, and it is one of those 'sweet spots' in my garden. Every year I seem to end up with the same planting here, mainly tender tropicals and potted tubs from the greenhouse combined with Dahlia's and Cannas. I think it's time for a different look, and so I am considering Tree Peony's.

'Tama Sudare' (Tracery of White Jade)
Tree Peonies are available in many types, the most ancient are the Chinese varieties, many which can be traced back to very early times, even before records we're kept. THe tree peony culture migrated to Korea and then to Japan in the 8th Century, where new Japanese cultivars became very populare in the ancient gardens of Kyoto and Osaka. When Joe and I visited Japan in June once, we saw the massive Peony gardens, and once, in February, I saw the forced tree peonies called 'Snow Peony", which are equally beautiful, forced into bloom with hot coals and bamboo tents. I think I will focus not on the Chinese or Korean forms, but on the Japanese Moutan varieties, which have lacier foliage, and have elegant names like "Yachiyo Tsubaki' (Eternal Camerlias), 'Yae Zakura' (Host of cherry blossoms) and " Horakumon',( Invitation to Abundant Pleasure). LIke fine antiques, these 8th Century varieties have far more provenance than any plant in America, today.

Japanese Moutan
Popular in western gardens for over a century, Japanese Moutan Tree Peonies were introduced into Japan by Chinese and Korean monks during the eighth century A.D. They were further developed by Japanese monks, becoming favorites of numerous Japanese emperors and were planted and revered in temple gardens in ancient cities of Kyoto and Osaka. Beautiful, large, single to double flowers range from bright scarlet, purple, pale pink to pure white with crepe-paper like petals and bear traditional, romantic Japanese cultivar names. The spectacular flowers are accompanied by handsome, divided foliage that extends the ornamental period of interest. Forming an upright to rounded long-lived shrub, they are a superb choice for creating focal points in the garden. We have selected and propagate the best forms for North American gardens.

I can't go on and not mention some of the finest Tree Peonies available today, mainly Sir Joseph Rock ( and it should be at $120.00 per plant), but when a plant is so choice and highly prized by knowledgable gardeners, I feel that I should share the secret. Then, there is it's prodgeny, mainly the Sir Peter Smithers hybrids like 'Baron Thyssen Bornemisza', which I mentioned last year when it was still available at $225.00, now, at $175.00, it's as if it's on sale. This is a choice plant that will get better each year, and more valuable ( I still don't have one but I have friends who do!). Maybe this year, who knows!

Baron Thyssen Bornemisza is one of the late Sir Peter Smithers most famous introductions, and since we have many of his other plants, mainly his hybrid Nerine and his yellow Clivia stock, I feel that this fact might justify my getting some of his peony's.


  1. What did you decide, and how? I adore peonies but I think they would wilt in NM.

  2. This is beautiful!I love it!


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