Peony season 2011

Jim McKenney
Wed, 04 May 2011 11:53:19 PDT
Thanks, Tony.

That's not what I wanted to hear, but it's not necessarily bad news. I have several acquisitions of the old French hybrid 'Souvenir de Maxime Cornu' (all acquired as 'Kinshi') and one or two 'Chromatella' (acquired as 'Kinku'). Another French lutea hybrid, 'Alice Harding' (the tree peony 'Alice Harding' not the herbaceous peony 'Alice Harding' ) used to be widely available but I have not seen it listed lately except from one or two specialist growers. If my false 'Yellow Crown' turns out to be 'Alice Harding' I'll be very happy. I think 'Alice Harding' was the "yellow" tree peony used to raise the original Itoh hybrids.

I've noticed that in peony circles there seems to be a tendency to disparage these old French hybrids, especially 'Chromatella' and 'Souvenir de Maxime Cornu' because they produce such huge, heavy flowers that the flowers are typically drooping down into the foliage and just about invisible. But they are easily propped up (not that I ever bother) and they make sensational cut flowers. I've seen flowers of 'Chromatella' so densely and firmly packed with petals that they suggest a yellow head of lettuce.

The French were the first to develop hybrid tree peonies with yellow flowers, and 'Souvenir de Maxime Cornu' is now well over a hundred years old - and in my opinion very much well worth having.

Now back to my peony question. There has got to be more to this. I went back and looked at the photo I have of the root I received under the name 'Yellow Crown'. It does not look like the root of a tree peony or a typical herbaceous peony. It definitely in not a grafted tree peony. The photo suggests one of the herbaceous peonies which spread by rhizomes. I've never seen a tree peony root grown from tissue culture, but my root looks like what I imagine a tree peony grown from tissue culture would look like.

If anyone would like to see an image of this root, email me privately (not to the list) and I'll forward the image.

I don't think it is going to bloom this year, so the identity of the plant will remain in doubt for at least another year.

Jim McKenney


More information about the pbs mailing list