Friday, June 10, 2011

Variants, and something cute

Paeonia peregrina, usually deep red but varying towards salmon/coral in some populations in the wild. This is the first non-red flower that has shown itself here. Quite a standout.

This cute little thing is Arisarum proboscoides, called the Mouse Tail Plant. Its foliage is the arrowhead shaped stuff in the next photo down. The genus name celebrates the similarities of the flower with the Arisaemae (jack-in-the-pulpits and cobra lilies) and of the growth habit with the Asarums (hardy gingers); one really has to dig through the foliage to find the flowers.

I would have taken the piece of plastic out of there before taking the picture, but honestly didn't see it!!

Okay, back to peonies. The following 3 photos show variation of flower colour between plants from a single open-pollinated seedlot (collected here) of Paeonia veitchii (Veitch's Peony)
The darkest is really somewhat redder than the photo shows, but there is something about the way the camera catches the light which overemphasizes the blue tint. (and it has nothing to do with blue sky, because there was none that day or most other days since the start of May!!)
The mid-pink is most common, here.

Monday, June 06, 2011

More of White Anomala

As hoped, a better photo of the flower.

And a close-up of the reproductive parts. The stigmas seem very small.

My report of the possibility of a few more coming into bloom shortly was premature. Along the lines of "don't count your peonies until they flower"; all the others were the normal pink/rose. The relative paleness of the early foliage either a figment of my imagination or unrelated to the eventual flower colour. Well, now we know.

My two plants are co-located, but bloomed sequentially this year so no cross-pollination. For that matter no by-hand selfing either, since I never managedto get any pollen onto a brush for transfer. I hope the insects have done a good job for me. If there is a seed set, it will be about 2015 or 16 before I know if I have true seedlings, so don't start writing cheques yet.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

An Anomaly of the Anomaous Peony

After years of waiting, and from the wrong seed batch!, blooms of a Paeonia anomala forma alba: the white-flowered form of Paeonia anomala. One bloomed after a fashion last year, but the flower was stunted and damaged by weather and insects, so this year's is really my first. There is again some insect damage to the outer petals, which I don't ever see on normal pink anomala or any other peony for that matter! This is the first day, and the flower I think is not completely open; should get a fully-open photo added soon.

The foliage is lighter green than the species normally has (especially when first emerging), and without the reddish stem that marks most of my other anomala's, but is otherwise within the normal range for size, shape and narrowness of segmentation.

Two known plants (the bud of the second has coloured up but not yet opened) and a couple of others that I think will be white but the buds are still green. Which means that with a bit of skillful paintbrush hand-pollinating a decent seed set should result (if not this year then soon? I have noticed that some peonies do not set seed in their first year of flowering; and there is always the weather issue!)

Monday, May 30, 2011

A Sudden Outburst of Sun-- and Peonies

The cold and grey of most of May was good for one thing: watching the Giro d'Italia (Tour of Italy) bike race on tv. The Spaniard Contador, after whose exploits I've named a peony, was in a fine fettle, lit up the race a few times, and won the thing. Great style to watch on the bike, and explosive uphill. Motivating.

Finally things warmed up here, outside, although remaining cloudy. Then 2 days of sun and it was suddenly almost hard to hear anything except peonies popping.

I had decided to try my darndest to prevent the bees from cross-pollinating the darker-flowered species into the lighter ones. This has meant clipping the buds of many plants while they are well-coloured but not quite open. But what to do with them all? Well, a couple of floating cut-flower projects have evolved. 6 buds of P mascula filled a large glass mixing bowl once all opened, but I'd have needed over a dozen of them. So some clean plastic planting trays sufficed, or will eventually, for the rest, holding about 40 buds each (now working on the third). In addition to mascula, there are a lot of P caucasica and P kesrouanensis, some P ruprechtiana (all 3 of those of the mascula clan and very similar), and a few early P veitchii and P officinalis.

So now the yellows and whites are free to be bee'd without muddying their colours, if not exactly keeping their gene pools clean (I'll do some hand-pollinating with a paintbrush to help that aspect). But wait, I also really need seed of P triternata, so there is the slight chance of some pink after all. Oh well. And then there's the bright red P tenuifolia in bloom in one location: that colour is welcome to mix with the yellows if it wants!

Blogger refuses to insert photos in the order I send them, and moving them around has crashed the blog more than once, so the following are not in my preferred order; but what the heck.

White form of P steveniana, flower and plant. That's about as open as the flowers of this species get.

A very pale form of P mlokosewitschii, which started to open yesterday. There is a subtle blush of pink at the base of the petals. I call this the "Moonlight form". This plant is one year out of the pot, where it had 2 stems last year.

P mlokosewitschii proper, the Golden Peony.

P steveniana proper, a bit paler than mlokosewitschii and a bit darker than P tomentosa (which is done now). And a grouping of 3 plants.

And just to prove that I'm not totally against the "pinks" this year, a nice dark-flowered form of P caucasica.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The 2011 Peony Season Commmences

Shockingly, an update to this blog. Spring has been wet, and cold until just recently, but plants are either ahead of normal or somewhat behind: no consistent trend that I can figure out.

Last year I finally planted a Paeonia mairei in a bed, so I now know that it blooms about at the same time as what I had normally considered the first of the peonies. It looks like it suffered a wee whirlwind in its vicinity recently, and one of the flowering stems folded and failed before the bud could open. I didn't take a photo of the one open flower because it is somewhat windblown and ratty, or more precisely I should say shredded by raindrops and well-munched by slugs. A tidy, compact plant. For a good photo of the flower, see entries from previous years.

The normal "first", Paeonia tomentosa or the Woolly Peony. Usually the plants down in the shade beds open a week later than the ones near the house, but this year they are opening simultaneously. No real surprise, it truly has been no brighter in the open than in the woods this year!!!! and this plant species proves it.

Pale yellow with a touch of green.

Things peony-wise will look a bit imbalanced here this year: in order to get decently true seed without off-colour pollution, I will be removing the buds of the red/ magenta/ pink species plants where they overlap with the yellow species. I tried to interest a florist in them, but couldn't; so I will probably end up with floating dozens of them in trays of water in the house (and hopefully not stepping in one during a middle-watch visit to the wc)