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Tree peonies

                                                GIVE YOUR GARDEN THE WOW!! FACTOR THIS SPRING

Tree peonies are the most exquisite, the most astonishing, and the most revered of all the spring flowering shrubs, yet are undemanding, are easy to grow and are totally hardy in the harshest winter. No other woody plant, not even the finest magnolia can produce flowers up to 30cm in diameter from a plant just a metre or so tall. These regal blooms in a myriad of colours, not just the traditional peony pinks, reds and whites, but include orange, bronze, yellow, and purple. They become much loved friends in the garden. Always there, returning to flower each year, dependably and perpetually beautiful.  

 

                                        

The excitement begins in February as the shoots begin to expand. The new shoots are rich red and purple, gradually turning to green. The tiny flower buds are soon visible, and it is a source of wonder that these tiny spheres could possibly swell to become as large as golf balls. A well grown plant should not need any support, but it is inevitable that the occasional stem might just need staking as the flowers open.

In our experience, tree peonies will thrive satisfactorily in both full sun and full shade, but the most sensational blooms always arise on the plants that are in light shade. The colours are richer and the blooms last longer. Chose a place where the air moves freely which helps prevent the occurrence of fungal problems in the developing shoots. They will thrive best in neutral to alkaline soils but can also grow happily in both chalky and slightly acidic soils. They can also be grown in large pots. A wonderful benefit of a pot grown plant is that it may be kept in an exposed and cold part of the garden during the winter, and then bought right up to a doorway or window from March onwards, so that the developing buds and flowers can be enjoyed to maximum effect.

 

                                   

There are many wonderful cultivars on our website. Each is individually superlative, and selection becomes a matter of personal choice. A canny selection of several cultivars can give you a show of this most regal of flowers from early April until early June.

The floral symphony begins with early cultivars including ‘Renkaku’ with reliably dinnerplate size flowers of pure white with fashionably ragged edges, and ‘Cardinal Vaughan’ with sumptuous saucers of rich episcopal purple which taunt you with flashes of blue as sunlight bounces off the petals.

A week or two later you can look forward to the egg-shaped buds of ‘Duchess of Marlborough’ producing huge flesh pink flowers. This classic has been a firm favourite for more than 100 years. Then there is the irrepressible ‘Koshinoyuki’, frivolously free flowering and double blooms each with hundreds of individual petals. Delight in the simple beauty of ‘Oukan’, a relatively modern cultivar with lemon blooms with a delicate raspberry blush in the centre. 

If you are really determined to be “out there” you might consider ‘Shimanishiki’ a fabulous and unique cultivar with irregularly variegated flowers, some more red than white, others more white than red. For some, the most celebrated of all is ‘Shimane Hakugan’, outstandingly beautiful with elegant blooms of pure milk white. In the centre of each flower, a ring of golden stamens surrounds a rich red carpel

To end the tree peony season there is no better way to finish with than ‘Souvenir de Maxime Cornu’. Every stem carries very large bomb shaped blooms which open apricot and enlarge to become bright orange spheres as the flowers mature.

We hope you enjoy browsing our selection and hope that we can tempt you to introduce these wonderful plants into your garden, or add to those that you may already have.

Dave Root

P.S - Make sure and read our Tree peonies care guide here.