Monday, May 18, 2009

Tree Peony


Paeonia suffruticosa October 2009

Paeonia suffruticosa is actually a deciduous shrub. It is native to Gansu Province in China where it grows in mountain scrub. It has been grown in gardens for more than 1500 years in China, 1000 years in Japan. The huge flowers are almost always pink, although the Chinese often call them red.  (You may also see purple, yellow & white.) Tree Peonies often appear in Chinese & Japanese paintings. Paeonia suffruticosa blooms in May, sometimes late April. The plant is very hardy & fairly drought tolerant. It requires staking, or the immense blossoms will droop to the ground after a heavy rain. The new growth is red in early spring. The mature foliage is attractive in summer, nicely colored with orange & yellow in fall. The bare stems are hardly noticeable in winter. They require sun, tolerate part shade. Most nurseries sell Tree Peonies. Plants imported directly from China can be found at the Holly Park Nursery (4031 S Willow St in Seattle) at lower cost than most nurseries. Not only that, but the proprietor will show you pictures from a book. He once told me, ‘I am crazy for Tree Peonies!’ Small plants from Japan are fairly inexpensive by mail from Van Bourgondien.

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