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)