Not long ago the Wisconsin Hardy Plant Society started a members' FB page where folks have been sharing photos of plants, asking questions and offering advice. The group also is offering informal workshops given by members on subjects like "Growing and Arranging Spring Cut Flowers" and "Expanding Your Shade Garden Palette." I thought it would be fun to do a workshop focusing on my early blooming woodland Peonies. However, our weather suggests they are going to bloom earlier than the date I picked for the event, May 11th! I came up with the date based on bloom times for the last nine years. We'll see how that works out.
Paeonia Mairei after it rained: Tuesday, April 11, 9:04 a.m.
The Peony pictured in this post is unlikely to have any flowers left by the time we meet. Since this is the first time it's bloomed for me, I have been taking pictures of its progress. I think I fell for these early peonies because there are so few shrubby plants with big flowers blooming this early in the season. They stand out in the garden in a way that more typical Memorial Day peonies do not.
Paeonia Mairei: Wednesday, April 18 at 8:58 a.m.
Peony Mairei is a Chinese peony discovered by Rene Maire in 1913. Hillside Nursery, where I bought it, said that it was the first to bloom in the spring. They were spot on. They also noted that the flowers start off dark pink and get lighter after opening.
Paeonia Mairei: Wednesday, April 18 at 3:27 p.m.
In his book "The Gardener's Peony: Herbaceous and Tree Peonies," Martin Page says that in China they grow in deciduous broad-leaved forests to a height of 3.3 feet. Mine is growing under a 60+ years-old Austrian pine.
Paeonia Mairei: Satursday, April 21 at 4:57 p.m.
The flowers close overnight and look like big soft raspberry marshmallows in the early morning.
Paeonia Mairei: Monday, April 24 at 8:43 a.m.
The leaves at this point are about 22 inches high with the tallest flower reaching 28 inches. The pictures below clearly show the flowers getting lighter as they open.
Paeonia Mairei: Monday, April 24 at 11:58 a.m.
Hillside Nursery says they grow in part shade to shade and Martin Page says "protect from hot sunshine." The black walnut in my neighbor's garden that shaded my peony was cut down a couple of year's ago. Since this plant is now getting western sun, I bought a peony umbrella last year to protect it as need be. At the moment, however, the umbrella is rather jerry-rigged in order to get the proper angle to actually provide any shade.
Paeonia Mairei: Tuesday, April 25 at 7:57 a.m.
The buds on Peonies japonica and obvata 'Alba' are just beginning to show a little color. Since rain is forecast beginning tomorrow through next Monday who knows when they may open.