Peony season 2011

Jim McKenney
Wed, 04 May 2011 09:55:18 PDT
What a spring this is turning out to be. An ill timed succession of frost, rain and wind events has made this the worst peony season ever. Many of the earliest herbaceous peonies lost flower buds to late freezes. Now that some of the surviving buds of those plants are opening, the flowers are opening to rain, wind and heat. The early tree peonies lasted about a day and a half this year: several days of temperatures up into the mid eighties F (and one day of temperatures briefly over 90 degrees F) finished them off quickly.

The main season lactiflora peonies and late lutea hybrid tree peonies are still to come. Did I mention that we have had hail twice in the last month?

This year the season opened with P. wittmanniana, which beat out P. mascula by one day. P. emodi, another early riser, formed flower buds but they have not developed into flowers.

Several volunteer seedlings of P. japonica have appeared. The flowers of the parent plant were here today, gone tomorrow.

Here's a question for the peony experts: do the Itoh interdivisional hybrids ever form short, above ground woody growths? For several years I've been nurturing a plant of 'Yellow Crown', one of the hybrids raised by Itoh himself, which has not yet bloomed and proved its identity. But there is a peony growing where 'Yellow Crown' should be; it has tree-peony like foliage. And it has a four inch woody stem. I'm confused.

Jim McKenney

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