Monday, June 28, 2010

The main show of Garden Peonies

A week and a bit ago the Paeonia lactifloras (the Chinese Peony, or what I call the Garden Peony) started popping into bloom in all their variety of forms and every shade of colour from white to red. How many shades of pink are there anyways?!! Here some views of the groups of potted lactifloras (and some hybrids mainly involving lactiflora parentage) which I've been growing from seed, for sale. Most are blooming this year for the first time, and I have so far photographed and labelled (with a personal number) just over 100 of them, with perhaps 15 or 20 with buds yet to open.

Of course, this being a main peak of the peony season we have been found by heavy rains. First the mini-deluge out of nothing yesterday evening, and today with an extended rainfall of varying weight but large accumulation. So these photos of yesterday's fine upstanding plants have would today feature bedraggled or mushed flowers with some recumbent stems (some of the plants have double or semi-double flower forms, which are notorious for lax stems)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Weather Moment

A strange bike ride today, the closest I've ever come to a triathalon session-- and really, I'm not fond of the genre! Felt more than a bit like Joe Btfsplk (per L'il Abner comic) too.

Following a dreary forenoon and early afternoon, the weather started to clear per the forecast towards 3-ish. A look at the weather radar website around noon showed no new rain advancing within 300 km. So, at closing time I got ready and went out for a 30km ride. Underway about 1630. On the outbound leg, a wee shower barely wetting the road for a few km at about 1645. From the midway turnaround point, an awfully dark band of cloud ahead. 10km from home, started to get wet. Passing shower, thought I. NOT. The rain got heavier and heavier, eventually exceeding the downpour stage and becoming a deluge. My usually very effective sweat band washed my eyes with several days accumulated sweat salts, which had the left eye and sinus still stinging hours later (or maybe a passing car sprayed me with traces of gasoline or oil from the road or it's own leak, since my right eye recovered from the salt quite quickly). Thankfully (?!) it was at least a warm rain, about 17deg C according to my bike computer- okay for 20 minutes but would have become chilling aver a longer distance. And it was "home roads" so not being able to see much of the road didn't matter too much.

By the time I showered (for real, with plumbed water, nice and hot) the sun was breaking through again. Perfect!

Now to the interesting part. I called up the weather radar webpage again and looked at 3 hours of history. No weather returns at 1500, or for awhile afterwards. But then just at 1640 a few light blue spots of "light rain" popped up on the radar over the hills just to the west of me, and quickly bloomed into a large patch about 30km north-south by 50km east-west, with green, yellow and even a bit of red intensity in the central area right over my route!! Just came from nowhere and dumped on ME!!!
So even if I had looked at the weather radar at the last minute before leaving home there would have been no sign of rain anywhere to the west (and that to the east was far away too and going further). Doomed. Just... doomed.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Not your plant of that name, the Sempervirens species.

A couple of mornings ago when headed towards the woods to do some overdue weeding I created a huge upset amongst the local wildlife. Walking by the bark/sawdust pile the morning exploded into a great commotion consisting of a Spruce Grouse hen running noisily across my feet (almost) and about a dozen chicks (I had never seen more than a half dozen in previous years, but then I had never encountered them on open ground before either) going silently the other way and disappearing into the undergrowth. The hen of course did not disappear, but continued with the noisy fake broken-wing flapping thing, along with squawking away at me. When I wouldn't take the bait of following her, she then changed the vocal repertoire to mewing and crying, sounding for all the world like a lost kitten or puppy. Weird. So I allowed myself to be chased out of the area so the family could regather itself and move on; they seem to be fairly mobile and I've never found them in the same place twice in a row-- not that I go looking for them, just that I stumble across them in different places. This lot had been quite a bit deeper in the woods the previous day.

So once they had moved on, I noticed a curious depression about a foot across, in the bark and sawdust, from which all the big chunks of bark and wood scraps had been removed (the picture below). I'm guessing they had been taking a mid-morning nap in the sun. Looking closely, I could see a number of individual smaller depressions in the main one, I suppose where some of the chicks had gone for extra comfort; unfortunately they don't show up all that well in the photo since the sun was close to overhead: but they are there!
A couple of breast feathers got left behind in the rush of departure.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Paeonia peregrina

One of the later species to bloom here, Paeonia peregrina is variably blood red in colour, ranging from quite dark to brilliant. The first photo was taken on a cloudy afternoon, the second two days later in sunshine.

Foliage is distinctly different from any other species. This species doesn't bllom in my shade test patch, and the stems are a bit floppy (or lax, if you will) in my partially shaded bed; so I recommend it for full sun only, in Nova Scotia. A plant in the Annapolis Valley of the same seed batch bloomed a week to two weeks before mine.

Also in bloom here still are a few plants of P veitchii (most are bloomed out), some early obovata's, a few officinalis, some of the lactiflora hybrids; lactiflora's are starting to colour in bud and very close to opening-- a couple more days of sun and they'll pop.

Hmm, World Cup games, the bike on sunny days-- it will be hard to find time to write posts for awhile...

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Seed Surprise

Several years ago I bought some Paeonia tenuifolia seed, hand-pollinated from the double form (but the pollen of course from the single form), from a European botanist. Two flowered last year in the "ordinary" blood-red single form, but this year one of three buds was looking very fat quite early on and surprised me by being this bright pink; and then as if that wasn't enough, a fully double form as well. Gorgeous, and almost the size of my hand. Floppy-stemmed yes, but I can forgive it that. The two photos are 3 days apart.

The other two buds this year will be red, and from the size probably single. And there are about a half-dozen plants that haven't shown their stuff yet. So there is still hope for a double red, but even if the rest are all single I'm not complaining-- this plant alone has been more than worth the purchase and the wait.
No stamens, but a full set of carpels.
Interestingly, the double red form is said to be a couple of weeks later to bloom than the single form, but this double pink is about exactly in synch with my single reds. It's probably no surprise that it is at its best during the concluding and exciting week of this year's Giro d'Italia bike race!
Looking at some of yesterday's photos, and today's, how can anyone wonder that I love growing peonies from seed?!
Unrelated to the above: Rain today, so no further developments in the Ugly
Duckling department.

Variations on the Theme of P. mlokosewitschii

A sampling of some new mloko's from this year; some may be hybrids or they may all be natural variation within the species, I just don't know. There are other variations from previous years that I didn't photograph this time around, for a change. And there were several new "ordinary yellow" ones which do not feature in this post.

Nice pink picotee on the petal edges.

Faded past it's prime here, this one was a bit peachy in colouration, more reddish than the "apricot" types.

An "apricot" variant faded and past it's prime by a day or two. The apricot forms generally have a more spicey but sweet fragrance than the yellows, in my limited experience.

Day one of a new seedling of what I call the "Ugly Duckling" colouration: it buds and opens with a drab dusty rose colour, and then as the days go by becomes more and more yellow except for red veins (which may or may not fade completely on the last day). As it reaches its prime the ugly duckling is revealed to be a lovely swan (per the Hans Christian Anderson fairytale), which I find appropriate for the transformation of the flower too...

...So here it is again 3 and a bit days later. Unfortunately I didn't get there with the camera until almost 8pm, so the flower is closed and the light is dim and the colours subdued and blued, but you can see that a transformation is in progress!