Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Japanese Tree Peonies at Olbrich

I made a trip out to Olbrich Botanical Gardens today, to check out their collection of Japanese and American hybrid tree peonies. Naturally, some were blooming and some were not, and it was a bright sunny day - terrible for taking pictures. But I did manage to spot some beauties!

Tree peony 'Leda'
My favorite was 'Leda', created by Nassos Daphnis. It is an American hybrid: a cross between Japanese tree peonies and the yellow species paeonia lutea. I am not normally too fond of this group - the odd colors seem to grate unpleasantly on my brain. But this one is nice. The color is unusual, but not harsh - an indefinable purplish coral pink. It forms a large healthy bush and blooms profusely. I especially like the lime green foliage edged in burgandy, which complements the flowers perfectly. Here is a close-up of the exquisite flower form:

Tree peony 'Leda'
The flower has dark purple flares at the base of the petals, giving it a tremendous sense of depth.

Amsonia tabernaemontana, allium, and tree peony 'Leda'

It's a lovely color but not one that will go with just anything. At Olbrich they have it planted near the cool blue of Amsonia tabernaemontana, which I think works well.

Tree peony 'Guardian of the Monastery'
'Guardian of the Monastery' was hybridized by William Gratwick, and seems to involve Japanese tree peony and paeonia rockii parentage. This plant has huge flowers with those fabulous rockii flares, but lavender-mauve is just not my favorite color.

Tree peony 'Shimane Chojuraku'
Another lavender-mauve one is 'Shimane Chojuraku' (somebody at Olbrich must like this color!). The name, sometimes spelled 'Shimene Cho Juraka', means "Long Life" in Japanese. Mauve makes me queasy, but I do like the dramatic, almost black flares at the base of this one.

Tree peony 'Shimane Chojuraku'

Unlike many Japanese tree peonies I've seen, 'Shimane Chojuraku' had a great plant habit, lots of good foliage, and excellent flower carriage. (Note to self: boxwood makes a good tree peony companion!)

Tree peony 'Royal Robe'
'Royal Robe' is a Japanese style tree peony raised by Toichi Domoto and Roy Klehm. It suffers from the typical Japanese tree peony problem of dumpiness and awkward habit - enormous flowers which do not seem to belong to the squashed little bush beneath them. But the deep color of these huge blooms was extremely compelling.

5 comments:

  1. I do love Japanese tree peonies, despite the short flowering time. The flowers are huge and paperlike. Very nice pictures of this collection.

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  2. How wonderful! Tree peonies are so special! Thank you SO much for the pictures and commentary!

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  3. Rebecca, I like your tree peonies! I try to grow them but no success, they badly survive in winter. I love most the next to last photo!

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  4. The tree peonies are lovely...peonies are a beautiful flower you just don't get to see in California! Jeannine

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  5. That is an interesting color on that first peony. It has a metallic sheen to it...very nice, very interesting.

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