At 08:21 PM 7/30/2004 +0200, Jamie V. wrote: >The Japanese cultivars are normally a >scion grafted onto a P. lactiflora root stock and they do not originate in >Japan. They are a local product in just about every land which sells them. >This has given rise to a relatively stable group of cvs being available for >US/European markets. An important cultural point for the grafted plants, >even if they were to be Chinese sorts, they MUST be planted with the scion >well below soil level. The theory is that the scion should root itself over >the coming seasons and the lactiflora root-stock will wither and die. Thanks, Jamie, for the European perspective. I think it's a bit different over here. When you say >They are a local product in just about every land which sells them. Would that that were true. Although it is true that tree peonies apparently have been commercially propagated in this country for over a century, the average tree peony buyer never sees these plants. The plants which most of us buy are imported from Japan (they sometimes come labeled "product of Japan"). Furthermore, my understanding is that these varieties originated in Japan, not in China. Traditionally, the open-centered flower type is associated with Japanese-raised varieties, and the full double sorts associated with Chinese and European raised varieties. There must be exceptions to these generalizations, but again, the average tree peony buyer doesn't see them. When you say: The theory is that the scion should root itself over the coming seasons and the lactiflora root-stock will wither and die. See Wister for stories of the herbaceous root stock reaching basketball size under the flourishing tree peony. Evidently, it is not necessary to remove the understock, and it certainly does not die on its own. Furthermore, I've seen tree peonies in local gardens which have the herbaceous understock growing right up through them, and neither seems to be winning. (I play it safe and remove them in my garden). I dug some of the older tree peonies in this garden and removed the understock. It was probably a mistake; the plants sulked for years. You go on to say: >An important cultural point for the grafted plants, >even if they were to be Chinese sorts, they MUST be planted with the scion >well below soil level. No doubt about it, this is certainly the conventional advice. But it's easy to overdo the "well below soil level" business. Remember, with grafted plants, the early years' growth will depend on the success of the herbaceous understock. Plant it too deeply and you will set the plant back. Here's a tip which I think makes much better sense: plant the grafted plants on a slant so that the herbaceous understock is near the surface (which is where it is adapted to grow) and at least some of the woody tree peony is under the ground too, where it will eventually root if you're lucky. Try to keep at least some of the tips of the woody growth below ground - that way, when soft new growth emerges, it will be in position to root. About forty years ago, when I was drafted into the Army, I had a pending order of tree peonies from Louis Smirnow, a then famous supplier. A neighbor, strictly a corn and tomatoes type, volunteered to plant them for me when they arrived. I gave him a quick lesson in tree peony planting, and told him to plant them deeply; he complied. When I returned home two years later, I eventually found the by-then dead and partially decomposed stems six inches down. Be careful: sometimes we get what we ask for! Jamie, you mention (and pass on the very good observation that they are marketed under Japanese names) Souvenir de Maxime Cornu and Chromatella. I grow these, and they are fantastic plants. Souvenir de Maxime Cornu just celebrated its centenary a few years ago. This is a historically important plant: evidently, it's the first of the lutea-suffruticosa hybrids. And it's a reminder of the time when France was the West's leader in peony culture. So let's thank the Japanese for keeping it going and making it available to Everyman, but let's not lose sight of its origin. Jim McKenney firstname.lastname@example.org Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where there is a tree peony walk in the garden which gets better yearly.