David Victor
Sat, 31 Jul 2004 10:23:31 PDT
As an avid grower of peonies, I would like to add my thanks to those of 
other members for Jim's super overview of the genus, as well as his 
detailed pieces on the nooks and crannies.

I live in one of the colder corners of England (towards the south, but a 
long way from the warming effects of the gulf stream.  So, I am by no means 
in a Mediterranean area!  This means that I have few problems in growing 
any of the species (or their derivatives) that come from the temperate and 
wilder regions.  However, so long as I am reasonably careful in placing 
them, I have few problems in growing the Mediterranean ones as 
well.  Indeed, I have most of the ones Jim has mentioned growing here, 
often several collections of them

My problems come from two sources with peonies.  Firstly, I find it hard to 
keep the American species, P. brownii and californica, through the 
winter.  The ground freezes hard at times and they simply don't like 
it.  Also, I feel that they may be closer to acid lovers than the rest, 
which tend in the opposite direction.  In any event, I find them very 
difficult and don't know of anyone currently growing them here, even though 
I am sure there must be more than one.

The other problem is P. emodi.  Whilst it comes from a cold place, like 
many plants from the Sino-himalayan flora, it expects Spring to mean 
Spring!  That is, when the frosts stop, it expects them not to start again 
till the following winter.  That is not a situation we are used to in the 
UK.  Frosts sometimes stop in January/February and then come again in May 
where I live.  Indeed, we had a night only last week where temperatures 
dropped to two degrees centigrade and there was a brief frost two week 
before.  The result is that P. emodi starts leafing up for the next year, 
is hit by a frost and is defoliated.  This weakens it and it often goes 
through the cycle again in the same season.  The result, only too easily, 
is death!  I have lost three in this way over the past five years.  Today, 
I have two, one in a pot, and the other came through last winter, but only 
just:  I had to keep a close eye on it each and every day from New Year 
onwards to get it though.

I will raise one issue about Jim's note, as it touches on another of my 
interests.  The latest report on angiosperm phylogeny (recently mentioned 
here), APGII, places Paeoniaceae in Saxifragales in Core Eudicots, but 
Ranunculaceae in Ranunculales in Eudicots.  There always has been some 
doubt about where Paeoniaceae fitted in with everything else, but this is a 
dramatic move.  Any comments, Jim?

In the meantime, many thanks again for your efforts.

Best regards,
David Victor 

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