Hands down, Paeonia obvata var. alba has the best seedpods of any plant I grow in my garden. The best seedpods of any plant I know. They are as beautiful in their own season as the flowers are in the early Spring. They were positively glowing in the late afternoon sunlight!
Our spurt of hot weather pushed the woodland peonies into overdrive. All three shrubs opened all at once and these lovely flowers quickly became toast. But they were so beautiful while they lasted that I had to share them. This pink flowered variety is Paeonia obvata willmottiae.
A close-up of the flowers of Paeonia obvata willmottiae.
P. japonica up close.
P. obvata var. alba is my favorite but seems to be producing fewer flowers and losing vigor — which is why I am only showing this close-up (below). It does seem to be seeding so I am going to pot them up and try to grow them on and see what happens.
Not a peony! But this gorgeous Glaucidium palmatum did not seem to be at all bothered by our spell of hot, windy weather. This gets a lot of early Spring sun before the trees leaf out but seems not to mind that either. Since it is considered a part to full shade plant, I am a bit surprised that it is doing so well. I am hoping to add the white variety to the garden in the fall.
Spring ephemerals are bursting with color but these two plants — a tree and a shrub — have some of the most arresting color of the season. Our recent hot weather and today's rain should have them fully opened by tonight. Though the rain will also make short shrift of my lovely peony!
Recent visitors to the garden have all asked me "What is that red flower?" before they were close enough to realize it wasn't flowers covering this bush.
What they were seeing was a bumper crop of seedheads on my woodland peonies, Paeonia japonica and p. obvata var. alba.
They are making such a dramatic colorful statement in the garden that I bought a couple of red Salvias (Cherry Queen) to plant in the across the path from the peonies, along with some Japanese blood grass.
If you are not familiar with woodland peonies, they are different from traditional peonies. You can read more about them by clicking on Peonies in my category list.
For those of you who like very, very early peonies, now's the time to buy them. Here are two sources: Peony's Envy and Hillside Nursery. Paeonia japonica (Japanese woodland peony) is available from both, but Hillside has two other peonies as well. I've bought a number of unusual plants from Hillside and have had good luck with all of them. You can search under "woodland Peonies" on my blog to find my posts and pictures on the subject.
I've spent a lot of time in recent days wandering in the Sacred Grove (aka the sunniest garden) trying to figure out if I can squeeze in one more peony. Beautiful in bud, in flower and now with the seedpods. Soon they'll split open to reveal even more good looks.
Paeonia rockii type
Paeonia obvata var. alba
Paeonia japonica seedpod splitting open
Paeonia 'Burnished Broze'
Not a peony but equally magical seed pods: Baptisia australis
Mostly I grow species peonies that need no staking. My P. lactiflora plants are single flower varities so they are not as top heavy as some. As a result I never bother with wire hoops or fancy staking concepts. Jan Riggenbach, whose excellent Midwest Gardening column ran in The Capital Times for many years, suggested this simple technique which I've used ever since.
When the peonies are still in the bud stage, take a length of jute and tie the stems in a fairly tight bouquet about 2/3 of the way upn the stems. I usually just tie the jute in a bow so I can untie it in the fall and reuse it. Grouping the stems like this is akin to using a wire support, but you don't have to find space to store all those cages in the winter. The growing foliage completely hides the jute and it looks like your peonies are standing proudly on their own.
Though the weather continues to be beautiful, I sent Mark out to capture a "snapshot" of the garden late Saturday afternoon since rain keeps appearing in our forecast. Also, I can't imagine that all these flowers will still be blooming next Sunday for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.
Thus, this report on the state of our garden in early June. First are the plant portraits. (Click on any picture to enlarge it.)
All the secondary flowers on Paeonia 'Burnished Bronze" are smaller than the first flush.
A bud on Paeonia 'Soft Salmon Joy'
First flower opens on Paeonia 'Border Charm,' an Itoh intersectional hybrid Peony
Thalictrum sp. 'Black Stockings' which is just about mature size in three years.
Gillenia trifoliata (Bowman's root). Got this in 2013 from Northwind, planted it in almost full sun and it is huge and happy in its first year.
Nymphaea 'Helvola' (The smallest water lily available according to Lilypons)
Brunnera 'Looking Glass' (with Brunnera 'Jack Frost' at far left, Interrupted fern in the center and Maidenhair fern on the right)
These next images give you a sense of the larger garden as a whole. Iris laevigata at the near edge of the pond and across the water in the bog area.
A closer view of the bog with the Ribes hedge above it and the new fence in the background
A compressed view across the front edge of the pond around to the boggy back corner. The Geranium cantabrigiense 'Biokovo' is putting on its best show ever and the 11-year-old Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Devon Cream' is showing winter burn. You can just see the first waterlily open on the pond.
Stepping back from the scene above to include Cornus alternifolia 'Golden Shadows,' along with Gallium odoratum (sweet woodruff) and Polygonatum humile (dwarf Solomon Seal).
I think it's time I accept that whatever I used to know about the weather at a particular time of year or in a given month, is only a memory and bears no relationship to current reality. Today is June first and we've had more days with temperatures in the 80s than I care to count. Yesterday it was 88 degrees F. (31 C.) at 4 p.m. What all this means is that certain flowers that one waits all winter to enjoy, bloom and disappear in a flash.
My white peony (Paeonia rockii type seedling from Seneca Hill) opened all at once at the beginning of the week and then got dashed a couple of days later by the rain. As for the rain, we only got half an inch at our house while other parts of Madison were being inundated by 3 and 4 inches (7-10 cm.). See what I mean about the weather.
Thanks goodness for the camera which lets me revel in my favorite flowers regardless of the weather or time of year.
I love peonies as much for their foliage as their flowers. A peony adds structure and mass to a garden bed and looks good all season. Every day the color, the size or the shape of the leaves is slightly different as they grow and unfurl and get more sun. This week's much warmer temps are causing changes almost by the hour.
Paeonia 'Burnished Bronze'
The following peonies are all species or woodland peonies. This first one is Paeonia anomala or vertchii, with the shadow pattern of a wire cage reflected on the leaves. I still have lots of plants caged to protect them from the large rabbits who have been terrorizing the garden.