White Tree Peony Identity Discovered

april-6-2009-018-2Early April sees the flowering of our oldest tree peony, a white large flowered single that has been in the ground in front of the split rail fence at the end of the knot garden for eight plus years.april-6-2009-003-22It is the focal point at the end opposite the shed doors. Originally four of these majestic shrubs were put in the ground along the fence. All were purchased bareroot at Walmart for fifteen dollars apiece. That was an astronomical price to pay for a wad of roots in a boxed plastic bag, times four especially. Two were pink, a red and a white made up the four. The design plan for these color choices, who knows?april-5-2009-more-012-2 Only the white survived the first year, but we would not know what the bloom would look like for a few more years. The growth seemed slow but by the fourth year, there were several buds. april-6-2009-038-2As the buds opened, the blooms were fantastical, white large silky crinkled petals surrounded a voluptuous center of red and gold that might make a lady blush. april-6-2009-025-2The dark red carpel and yellow furry stamens are irresistable to our buzzing garden cohorts. Although the names of the four tree peonies were written down on a diagram of the knot garden with their location noted, that piece of graph paper seems to have disappeared into the etherworld of garden papers here. There is no way it could have been tossed into the recycle, or worse the trash, intentionally anyway. But the search was on to find the correct name for the white tree peony. Combing the internet recently, using that search term brought success. Site after site of listings and photos showed the unmistakable red and gold center with white crepe paper petals to be Paeonia ostii ‘Phoenix White’, in Chinese ‘Feng Dan Bai’.

One of the best sites for plant information, , the Missouri Botanical Garden, or Mobot says of this plant:

Feng Dan Bai (White Phoenix)
China
This is the most widespread cultivar of Paeonia ostii. It is a very vigorous species with the most rapid growth of all the peonies that, in a former classification, were grouped together as suffruticose peonies. Plant height can reach 7ft. at maturity. It comes into flower in a relatively short time after propagation. It grows successfully under completely different climatic and soil conditions. It is the base root of our grafted tree peonies. Flowers: white, sometimes with pinkish veins; single, large, with dense fragrance; petals, very open and not forming cups, one of the earliest flowering.The flowers face upwards, floating like silk on top of the leaves. Leaves: lobed only exceptionally.

april-6-2009-029-2The flowers have survived wild winds and rain snow in the last week. They do this by closing their petals to protect the pollen when precipitation comes. As long as the pollen is fresh, the flower will open again in sunshine. This pollen is looking rather fresh to these eyes.april-6-2009-023-2 Many sites claimed this plant to be grown in China in huge crops for medicinal purposes. Diligent research could not reveal what that purpose was though. If anyone knows, we would appreciate the sharing of that information. Added: Analgesic; Antibacterial; Antiinflammatory; Antispasmodic. Thanks to Phillip(UK) for the link with this info. See his comment below to go visit that link yourself. And do visit his incredible blog by clicking on his name here.april-5-2009-more-020-2Once planted the Peony likes to be left alone and punishes those who try to move it by not flowering again for several years. Once established, however, it produces splendid blooms each year for decades.
april-5-2009-more-008-2Tree peonies are aristocratic perennials that would be a wonderful addition to any garden, growing in zones 3-9. Unlike the herbaceous peony that dies back to the ground each winter, these peonies develop woody stems that add architectural interest to the winter garden. Since they do develop woody stems, plants must not be cut back as typically done with the herbaceous peony. The woody stems can be lightly pruned to develop a good scaffold of primary stems and to promote the production of new shoots. Tree peonies do not require a great deal of maintenance to grow well. These plants are resistant to deer browsing. They like a soil that is near neutral and it should be well drained. They do not require great quantities of fertilizers, as a matter of fact, over fertilization can reduce flower production the following year. A moist soil in a lightly shaded place in the garden is ideal for best growth and flowering. april-6-2009-010-2While kneeling under the canopy of flowers and foliage with camera in hand, we spied these bits stuck to the woody stems. This post could have been titled “Tree Peony And White Feathers”.
Frances

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53 Responses to White Tree Peony Identity Discovered

  1. Janet says:

    Beautiful plant Frances!! Good to know that the deer leave it alone. There are many of the tree peonies that I see in the catalogues and want one, no two, no wait….I want lots!! Their huge blooms are really striking.

    Hi Janet, thanks. I learned a lot about this plant while doing the research and was pleasantly surprised by many of the facts, like the wide zone range. Nearly anyone can grow this it seems, if they provide ample moisture but good drainage. The white was the lone survivor of the four purchased, it may be that this was just the tougher cultivar. I would look for this particular one to add to your garden.
    Frances

  2. Sylvia (England) says:

    Frances, a gorgeous plant and lovely pictures. I was surprised to read it is used as root stock but shows it must be one of the easier ones to grow. It goes on my “must have” list! I do have one tree peony, in a pot, this year it goes into the garden.

    Best wishes Sylvia (England)

    Hi Sylvia, thanks. After reading up about this particular tree peony, it is no wonder it was the sole survivor! Do give it a try, highly recommended. πŸ™‚ BTW, after much jumping through hoops, I am able to get back issues of GI. I don’t have them yet, but there is hope.
    Frances

  3. gittan says:

    Godmorning Frances! What a lovely plant you have there. I haven’t had any Peonies since we did the “big digging” in our garden. Maby I should by some… Your garden must be real big, this part I can’t remember that I’ve seen before gittan

    Good morning to you dear Gittan. Thanks for stopping by. I am having trouble accessing your site, but will keep trying, as long as I remember! πŸ™‚ The knot garden is in the uppermost part of the garden and is not visible from the house due to the boxwood hedge around it, sort of a secret garden. It is the first garden that was designed and planted, well before the house renovation was even begun. Of course we had the slope terraced first so we could play while the workmen dug the footer for the house addition. Many plantings have been tried in the quadrants, but it used to be an alley and is gravel based and compacted. The creeping thymes have done well and the tulips are just beginning to bloom. This is the prime time for it. My garden is three city lots, just under a half acre. The slope makes it appear much larger though. Do try this cultivar of tree peony, it has been one tough cookie! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  4. linda says:

    Beautiful Frances! Glad your sleuthing paid off and your tree peony has it’s rightful name! We saw some at the Macy’s flower show. They are gorgeous, and the scent. . . heavenly!

    Hi Linda, thanks for your own sleuthing too! πŸ™‚ The scent of this one is not really sweet, kind of musky and sexy, seems appropriate. I can imagine a room full of these would be fantastic.
    Frances

  5. Joy says:

    This is such a wonderful post to read this morning after seeing the snow blanket everything here .. this is one wicked time for a gardener living smack in the middle of it all.
    I’m in love with this tree peony .. I think it has to be pretty well perfect ! The white really commands attention and how tall it will become is awesome ! I have one small regular Peony in my garden ..but now I have gardener’s LUST for yours Frances .. thanks a lot girl for bringing that beast out in me again !! LOL
    The pictures are so wonderfully detailed .. can you tell me what camera you are using ? I’m really interested to know ! : )
    PS .. the coffee hasn’t kicked in yet, team that with seeing snow and it could explain a LOT if I have submitted a weird and wacky post here ?

    Hi Joy, thanks, I am sorry for your snow cover. It is lightly snowing here right now, but not sticking. This peony is by far the toughest of the three that grow here. One is so small, it hasn’t flowered yet, even after three years, but it is alive and growing, the important thing. I am still using the same old Canon powershot A720 IS, a point and shoot. After reading the owner’s manual, and just taking thousands of photos, we now understand each other. It is all about the light, early morning and late afternoon get those wow shots. Overcast but bright is good for white flowers.
    Frances

  6. tina says:

    It is simply splendid Frances. A regal specimen in its spot! So wonderful, and thanks for the info on them. I hope my two grow-finally.

    Hi Tina, thanks so much. It is good to know more about this cultivar, and how best to care for it too. I won’t be fertilizing it and the others any more, but will give them extra water if the drought continues this summer. A nice light mulch layer is good too. Good luck with yours. Welcome back:-)
    Frances

  7. layanee says:

    I love the hovercraft of a bee in the first picture. Tree peonies are so lush and your picture did almost make me blush. Georgia O’Keefe would have painted that.

    Hi Layanee, thanks. HA, Ms. O’Keefe would have had a field day with this flower, it is embarrassigly sensual! The bees have been getting harder to photograph lately. They are avoiding the camera lens, going to the other side of the flowers just as I get ready to click. The bumbles are a little slower and less shy.
    Frances

  8. I agree with layanee. The photo of bee hovering over the peony bloom is awesome. The bloom is lovely right from bud to bloom. No wonder she is fragrant, what with the exquisite beauty!

    Hi Chandramouli, thanks. The bees are shying away from the camera recently and it has been more of an effort to capture them. That is how I noticed the feathers on the stems, though. If one were to only have a single peony, this would be that one. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  9. What a beauty Frances. If that thing gets to be 7′ tall. My gosh… I have never seen such a thing. I hope to though.

    HA Lisa, I have to laugh at you calling the peony a thing! I am skeptical of 7 feet, but it is possible. Right now it is probably nearly five feet in height, maybe a little less. More water would help, we have had severe extreme drought the last two summers. My extra watering with the hose or watering can is just not enough to get the most growth from it, but the blooming is good. That is the main thing.
    Frances

  10. TC says:

    Lovely Ms. Frances. I’m in search of a bargain tree peony or three myself. But after hearing of your $45 loss, I’m thinkin I should stay away from box stores.

    Hi TC, thanks. I would not recommend buying this particular plant from a big box, but I was amazed, even that long ago at the price. My newest one was $40 for a stick. It has yet to bloom after three years, but is growing larger. The drought is killer to them all. I have lost several, including some species from Heronswood when Hinkley still owned it that all perished, lack of water is the cause I am certain. If I were to buy another, it would be have to be in bloom so I knew what I was getting.
    Frances

  11. Gail says:

    Hi Frances, Phoenix White is a beauty and she is definitely Queen of the Knot Garden! Your photos are wonderful! Should I go on! I have a number of superlatives to describe your perfect flowers! They are stellar…and the hovering bee is remarkable. I wonder who lost those white feathers! I’ve been puzzling over why mine flowered its first years and not since then. I’m thinking erosion; it’s sitting in a spot that seems to have caught soil and the dirt is high on the stem. I am going to move it this fall/winter…what have I got to lose, it’s not blooming anyway! What’s on your schedule today? gail

    Hi Gail, thanks. I don’t know about the feathers, they could be from the white breast of the chickadees? Or mockingbirds since they seem a little larger. I cannot imagine the problem with yours, but do know that mind seem to send their roots to the surface each year. I cover them lightly with mulch, just to keep the moisture in, and water judiciously. My schedule today is lighter than yesterday, clean the kitchen. I would love to go plant shopping but now is not a good time with the cold that will come tonight. I will for sure cover stuff.
    Frances

  12. Cinj says:

    I have often thought about buying a tree peony, but I have never gotten around to it yet. Peonies are such beautiful plants, aren’t they Frances? So would you say that tree peonies are as easy to care for than herbacous peonies?

    Hi Cinj, thanks. That is a tough question, since both types have their features. For me, the tree peony is better because the flowers do not need staking. It is slower growing though. Both are long lived plants that will not need dividing to continue blooming as long as the sun is adequate. Happy news about your MN house too. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  13. nancybond says:

    It is a beauty, and how charming against your weathered fence! Her center almost looks like witch hazel. πŸ˜‰

    Hi Nancy, thanks. I love those split rail fences and how they make even a formal type garden plant look cottagey. The color is similar to Diane’s calyx, but the size is a kajillion times larger. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  14. I bought a peony tree once but it died, much like your other three. It’s good to see that the white one survived and how. Geeeorgeous blooms!

    Hi YE, thanks. I have lost several including those first three. Lack of water is the culprit I believe. We are good with drainage on this slope. Maybe drainage was a problem for yours? They sound to be quite winter hardy, this White Phoenix has lots going for it.
    Frances

  15. Monica says:

    Hi Frances, I love the single flower, it is great! In fact I always prefer singles to doubles… (which doesn’t explain why I like normal peonies, but…). Mobot rules! They do have excellent plant info online. I hope to head there this year!
    Monica
    P.S. I think you can add some code to your old blogger blog to redirect it to your wordpress blog… that way you could maybe sign into blogger to leave comments but when people click on your name it SHOULD take them to your wordpress blog, not blogger. If you want to do it, go to the blogger control panel and in the Layout tab, click Edit html. Immediately after the tag, type this on a new line:

    and save. I tried it in my blog (redirecting my own blog to my own website) and it works, but it takes a little while to refresh (but my computer is old).

    If you don’t like how it works, just delete that line and everything is as it was!

    Hi Monica, thanks. I will try your technique, but there was no code shown on your comment. Is it just my url?
    Frances

  16. Frances,
    That’s definitely a star in your garden! I love your knot garden. There’s one on my wish list once I “somewhat finish” the cottage garden and deer resistant outer gardens!
    Cameron

    Hi Cameron, thanks. I had always wanted a knot garden and this is as close as I will ever come probably. Finding level ground was the first issue! Many plants have been killed up here, it was formerly a gravel alley for the trash collection. The boxwood hedge is just now the same size all around as it was planted at different years due to the cost factor. It is the cultivar Wintergreen, and has done very well. I would recommend it and use it if making another knot garden too.
    Frances

  17. I’ll have to take a closer look at the white tree peony here when it blooms and see if they are the same. The flowers are quite luscious. There are plans to move a couple of them very soon, (when the four inches of snow melts), because they have been buried by neighboring shrubs and need more room. If they get sold bare root it is obviously possible to transplant them. Otherwise my “help” in the neighboring garden will continue to be with the peonies and many of the smaller azaleas and shrubs to keep the wild things off and away from them. I think the resident gardeners have some troubles with things because they don’t get enough sun buried in the wild aster and ageratina.

    Hi Christopher, it just might be, you know how Bulbarella and I are on the same wavelength. I am sure you can move them, maybe even divide them, you will just have to wait longer for the blooms. I would do it anyway under your circumstances. Those asters and ageratina want to rule the world here too. They have to be pulled ruthlessly to save the other plants.
    Frances

  18. Phillip says:

    It is beyond gorgeous and I love the garden design! I planted a purple tree peony last year (I’ll have to check for the name) and the buds on it are huge. I can’t wait to see it open. My oldest tree peony, an unidentified red one, didn’t bloom this year and it always blooms. I don’t know what happened.

    Hi Phillip, thanks. My newest one is purple, Kamatanishiki, I think. My red is Hatsugarasu. Maybe your older one was overfertilized? Not enough sun? Who knows. So sad.
    Frances

  19. Racquel says:

    It is a gorgeous specimen. Your knot garden is a thing of beauty right now, a nice place to sit in the morning with a cup of coffee I bet. πŸ™‚ I have a tree peony coming in the mail this month that was given as a free plant for ordering so much. It’s chinese name is Zhuang Yuan Hong.

    Hi Racquel, thanks. This is the time the knot garden looks its best, when the tulips are just opening. They splay in the sun, so look much neater when the petals are closed. It is a nice spot to sit, shady in the late afternoon of summer with good breezes on top of the hill. A free tree peony is amazing, you must have ordered a lot to get that! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  20. ourfriendben says:

    Sigh. I’m so jealous! I love herbaceous and tree peonies—peonies are my favorite flowers, followed, for reasons of childhood sentiment, by nasturtiums. But up here, I see gorgeous bloom-covered tree peonies turned into facedown blobs of mush overnight by the rains, so I’ve resisted buying them. Sob! And, like Phillip, I am awed by your knot garden design. So beautiful!!!

    Hi OFB, thanks. According to the articles, as long as the pollen is fresh, the flowers can close up and withstand all sorts of abuse, unlike the herbaeous peonies. A good selling point besides the no staking needed. I would give it a try, and plenty of sun with afternoon shade. The knot garden is a favorite spot here of mine too. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  21. Dave says:

    It has beautiful blooms! I’m in agreement with the other commenters who are admiring your knot garden, it looks great. That’s a neat name for your peony!

    Hi Dave, thanks. I like that name too, and like a phoenix, it does rise up. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  22. Cindy, MCOK says:

    Wow, that is gorgeous! I’ll just sit here and sigh over yours since we can’t grow them here in south central Texas. I heard tell that it’s possible in Dallas but that isn’t enough to lure me there!

    Hi Cindy, thanks. It says zone 9 for this particular cultivar so you might be able to grow it. Good drainage and water during the dry season, maybe more shade too. White Phoenix seems to be tougher than the rest of the lot. Look for it! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  23. Sweet Bay says:

    What a magnificent peony. I must look into getting that one. I didn’t know Tree Peonies could be so vigorous in our climate. Nice bee pictures too!

    Hi Sweetbay, thanks. Apparently they do well in quite a range, 3-9 is remarkable. This one is a keeper.
    Frances

  24. I’m glad it finally has a name. It’s a lovely thing, and so generous with its blooms. Just fantastic!

    Hi MMD, thanks, me too. It has been such a good bloomer, now I know why, very near the species. Highly recommended, it gets better each year too.
    Frances

  25. marmee says:

    this is a gorgeous peony tree. i just planted a couple of peony bare roots. i hope they make it with our wild weather. i love the close up of the inside of the flower. thanks for showing where you have it at the end of your little formal area, it looks peaceful there. have a wonderful week.

    Hi Marmee, thanks. The roots should be fine with this cold snap. If they were in full bud, I would suggest covering them with a large upside down pot. You might want to anyway. My family is coming here for Easter, so we will enjoy it extra this year. Hope your holidays holds the same joy.
    Frances

  26. Brenda Kula says:

    Frances, I am not only aghast at the beauty of your tree peony (which I did not previously know even existed). But also at the second photo with your shaped garden. I am saving that one!
    Brenda

    Hi Brenda, thanks. The tree peony has grown into something magnificent. I had never seen one in real life, I think it was on one of the old Martha Stewart shows one time. You can imagine how happy I was when it bloomed for the first time and looked like that. The knot garden is starting to look better now that the boxwood hedge is all the same size too. Thanks.
    Frances

  27. gisele schoene says:

    What a wonderful plant! And I love your knot garden, the bench is inviting and it must be very nice to sit on it and enjoy the garden. I also bought a peony at Walmart a couple years ago (but mine was much cheaper!). I thought it didn’t make but for my surprise it is growing. After 2 years!
    I hope it didn’t get very cold there last night. I am anxious about tonight.

    Hi Gisele, thanks so much. You may have bought an herbaceous peony there, they are WAY cheaper. Good news that it is now growing for you. I would cover it tonight.
    Frances

  28. Rusty says:

    Nice corner of the garden, a great place for meditation, specially with that flowering peony.

    Hi Rusty, thanks so much. It is the highest point in the garden. We can see over the top of the roof of the main house from that bench. A lovely view.
    Frances

  29. Phillip (UK) says:

    Beautiful plant for a beautiful garden. As to its medical / herbal use:

    http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Paeonia+ostii

    Oh hooray! Thanks so much Phillip. I will add that to the post. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  30. dowhatyoulove says:

    Wow, what a spectacular plant! It’s so elegant, and delicate looking. I really like your knot garden also. Very pleasing shape, and it looks like a relaxing place to sit and meditate.

    Thanks. The knot garden is looking pretty good right now. The viridiflora tulips are just opening and the boxwood hedge is showing lighter green new growth. It is a favorite spot here.
    Frances

  31. Barbara says:

    Thanks for the wonderful photos. Tree peonies are magical. Wonder if this White Phoenix was the surviving understock of one of coloured peonies that didn’t make it? In any event, it couldn’t be more perfect just where it is. And just think, if you’d saved the piece of paper from the purchased plants, you never would have had this much fun and conversation!

    Hi Barbara, thanks. I don’t think it was grafted, there were just roots in the bags, no stems. I remember thinking there was no way these were going to grow into anything at all, that the money was completely wasted. I have searched for the name online before and never saw the photos that were so obviously the same plant for some reason. It is good to know the name, but I want to know where the heck that piece of paper is. The conversation on the blog is so rewarding, you are quite right. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  32. Katarina says:

    Your tree peony is stunning! And so are your pictures!
    Katarina

    Hi Katarina, thanks so much. Glad you enjoyed them. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  33. Catherine says:

    It’s so pretty in bloom. I think I’ll have to do a search once mine is in bloom to see if I can identify it. It looks perfect as your focal point. How tall would you say it is now?

    Hi Catherine, thanks. There seems to be more photos online now to help with the ID. Hope you can find the name for yours. Mine is just under five feet tall now. I was lucky it was the one in the center that lived, HA! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  34. gwendolyngarden says:

    Your knot garden is stunningly beautiful. What a paradise!

    Thanks so much, glad you enjoyed the photos. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  35. That tree peony is beyond gorgeous. But what really makes it so wonderful is the way you’ve sited it in that little knot garden. Perfect plant, perfect place as all the books like to say!

    Hi Linda, thanks. This is the best it has ever looked. I would like to say the placement was planned, but it was not. There were four planted along the fence, this is the only one that lived, and it just happened to be right in the line of the path and shed. Pure luck. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  36. Dee says:

    So glad you discovered the name of your tree peony. I don’t have one yet, but am expecting one from Song Sparrow this spring. I hope it isn’t snowing where you are. That snow would be hard on the beautiful white blooms. We had our horrid freeze this a.m., 25F, but most of the garden survived under cover.~~Dee

    Hi Dee, thanks. It has snowed off and on most of the day, there was snow on the shed roof this morning. Cold and windy is the name of the game here. The camellia has a garbage can upside down on it is all the covering we are doing for the predicted 31 degree temps. 25 is bad. I look forward to seeing your tree peony. They are quite special.
    Frances

  37. Tatyana says:

    Outstanding pictures, as always. Wonderful garden. I take off my hat (and I don’t say that often).

    Hi Tatyana, thanks for the the hat tipping! So glad you enjoyed it. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  38. Jean says:

    Sigh. I do wish I could grow peonies. You’d think since we can grow other cottage garden-y stuff that we could grow them. But alas. I’ll just have to look at your beauties. Hmm, I think I can handle that.

    Hi Jean, thanks. But the description says zone 9 for this one. Maybe this particular cultivar will grow for you, the references claim it to be very forgiving of soil types and conditions. But you can just look here if you want. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  39. Pam/Digging says:

    I’m sidetracked by your knot garden photo. It looks really pretty right now, even when it’s not in full bloom. Nice structure.

    Hi Pam, thanks. When the tulips bloom it the knot garden is at its peak. I wish that were not so, that it could have more seasonal interests. Something that can grow amid the tulips and thyme groundcover, full sun, rocky compacted soil, it used to be an alley. Any suggestions?
    Frances

  40. mothernaturesgarden says:

    Good things come to those who wait. Congratulations on the beautiful peony. It was worth all the effort. I learned they are hardy when established and need a little protection in the early years.
    Donna

    Hi Donna, thanks for that info. They seem very vulnerable when young but quite tough as time goes by. The white phoenix was in full flower, they did not close up with the cold last night. They looked like wet tissues this morning, but by afternoon were back to their gorgeous selves. Same with the red. Thank goodness.
    Frances

  41. Carol says:

    Utterly Gorgeous!!! I imagine you having lovely chats while resting on your bench… with a cup of tea perhaps.

    Hi Carol, thanks so much. There have been some lovely chats on that bench, with various beverages. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  42. What a fabulous Peony. I bet you’re glad you hung on all that time until it flowered. Patience is a virtue and all that.

    Thanks for the particular advice on ‘tree’ Peony.

    Beautiful photography.

    Rob

    Hi Rob, thanks. There was always growth, so we had hope of someday seeing flowers. They are so much prettier in real life. I appreciate those kind words. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  43. lynn says:

    We may have the same white tree peony…mine is not quite as tall as yours but also 8 yrs. old. And just when I think it didn’t make it through the winter, it survives and blooms beautifully! I purchased a purple one at the flower show this year ($20..which is cheap!) but it will be quite a while before we see her in bloom. Of course, I’m still a month behind you though…lol..can’t wait!

    Hi Lynn, wow, that is just fabulous. Do post photos and let me know when you do! Did you get it at Walmart by any chance? πŸ™‚ $20 is cheap. I have a purple one that is barely more than a stick and paid $40 for it. There is also a red that is getting larger each year with a few blooms open now. Our cold snap and snowfall recently did not hurt them at all, thank goodness.
    Frances

  44. Jean says:

    Frances, Jean again. I noticed your comment about the knot garden and what to grow in that difficult soil. I don’t think this’ll help much but in my former alleyway (which still has broken asphalt) in full sun I’ve got these things that grow wild: spiderwort, sweet autumn clematis, and Mexican feather grass. I’m sure you want some other type of flowers though. And btw, I also was taken by your knot garden. Be sure to post about it when the tulips bloom! Oh, and one more thing, I think it’s the heat that kills peonies here.

    Hi Jean, thanks for those tips. I did try a grass once, although not the Stipa, but rather bronze carex. Bad choice, too hot and dry for it up there. I think the stipa would shade out the thyme too much. Annuals on a single stem would work, the celosia would have been good. Sigh. Funny you should say that about the knot garden, you must be psychic, see today’s post! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  45. Jenny B says:

    What an amazing plant! I think you said it best, when you described it as voluptuous. Your knot garden is wonderful. It looks so inviting.

    Hi Jenny, thanks. That center is really amazing, even more sensual in person. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  46. joey says:

    Like your fairies, I delight viewing macro images of your garden, Frances. The intro photo of your oldest tree peony is a dream. You tend and till the earth for those that follow … for that you will be blessed. Happy Easter!

    Hi Joey, thanks so much. Tending the garden is my greatest joy, after tending my family who happen to be coming here for Easter this year. Got to hit the ground running! HA Happy Easter to you, dear friend.
    Frances

  47. Kathleen says:

    That is a delicious white tree peony Frances. Good you figured out the identity. Now to the real issue, I saw your comment on Gails blog about how happy the primula veris are making you ~ so go ahead ~ post some magnificent photos of them here and make me drool! I’ll be waiting!!

    Hi Kathleen, thanks. The primulas are looking great, they divide so easily and love to be spread about. They are just beginning the show with the blooms and photos have been taken. If not before, they will surely be included in the bloom day post. My family is coming here for Easter this year so the blog will be set aside for a while during that time. Any luck with yours?
    Frances

  48. Kathleen says:

    Unfortunately, no. I think I should have prechilled the seeds you sent??? Good news tho. My mom has finally agreed to dig up a clump of one of my (old) plants and give back to me. I just need to get them started then I think I’ll be back in business. Also, I was considering ordering. Did you see the new double primula veris (on the Plant Delight website). Good to know yours will be featured soon.

    Hi Kathleen, don’t give up. Mine did not get prechilled, but the greenhouse was pretty cool, 50 degrees when they were started. Glad your mom will give you some, such a wonderful plants. Plant Delights has plenty of things that interest me. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  49. kerri says:

    Those blooms are a spectacular work of art, Frances, and your photographs are pure delight. The bees are obviously in insect heaven with all that beautiful pollen πŸ™‚
    It’s easy to see why we gardeners are so obsessed with growing things when presented with such luxurious beauty as this plant radiates. It takes my breath away!

    Hi Kerri, thanks. The tree peony is having its best year ever, very rewarding. Gardening is the joy of my day to day life. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  50. Pam/Digging says:

    To reply to your seasonal interest question, Frances, in my Austin garden, for summer color in difficult soil and full sun, I would try hymenoxys (Tetraneuris scaposa) or narrowleaf zinnia. Real troupers, those. Also, maybe society garlic?

    Hi Pam, thanks for those suggestions. The society garlic would be perfect but is marginally hardy here and that is a very open spot. I am not sure about the hymenoxys and will do some research. It isn’t offered here that I have seen.
    Frances

  51. Jan says:

    White flowers are my favorite, and this is a beauty. Peonies are one of the flowers I would love to grow, but unfortunately, they don’t grow this far south. I’ll just have to enjoy yours.

    Jan
    Always Growing

    Hi Jan, thanks so much. Sorry about your lack of peonies, although this particular cultivar claims zone 9. I love white flowers too and have a white/yellow bed, next to the black bed for contrast. There is some leeway in what is planted in both though. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  52. eliz says:

    What a fascinating portrait of that tree peony. They are magnificent plants. I just bought another this year.

  53. Pingback: Three Tree Peony Dreams « Fairegarden

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