Paeonia TOW - Part 1

Jim McKenney
Fri, 30 Jul 2004 14:29:08 PDT
At 09:38 AM 7/30/2004 -0700, Jane Mc gary wrote:

>I like the large form of P. lutea known as "ludlowii" to 

I raised a plant of this form (from a very big seed) back in the early
'70's. It grew outside in a somewhat protected place for about twenty-five
years. It grew a lot more vigorously than typical garden tree peonies -
each year it would send up several stout, 3'-4' canes. In all that time, it
never bloomed even once. It had been given a prominent site, and I
eventually moved it. Out in the open garden it did not survive the first

Others in this area have had similar experiences with this form. 

On the other hand, I have heard of something being called Paeonia lutea
ludlowii being grown in south-eastern New York. 

What say the experts?

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where for a quarter-century
I hovered over that #*&^%#$*&&^$ plant muttering, apparently, the wrong

>Jim Waddick wrote,
> >The intent of this brief introduction to peonies is based on two 
>assumptions: 1) that this is an introduction to the whole genus and 2) that 
>garden peonies are not widely grown in western gardens.
>Well, if the West Coast consists mostly of Los Angeles and environs (an 
>opinion held by many East Coast persons), then that may be true. However, 
>almost any garden worthy of the name in the Pacific Northwest contains at 
>least one peony, and in my Oregon county alone we have three major peony 
>nurseries. Furthermore, stock I have purchased from them has been much less 
>disease-affected than stock bought from Midwestern nurseries. Even farther 
>to the south, I recall my relatives in Lodi, California, northeast of San 
>Francisco Bay, growing peonies, and I've seen them around houses in the 
>Sierra Nevada foothills. Apparently you just have to pick varieties that 
>don't need a deep winter chill -- and winter temperatures in northern and 
>inland California are routinely at least as cold as in much of England.
>I haven't grown P. brownii, but if I had it I would put it in a slightly 
>shaded part of the bulb frame. I have heard of it being grown in the Czech 
>In my own garden I have many species peonies, mostly grown from seed 
>collected over the years by Josef Halda. Josef told me to keep the young 
>plants in slightly shaded sites, and they are indeed healthier under that 
>condition than if planted in full sun. Apparently mature plants can take 
>more sun, but many species spend all their lives in scrub and light 
>woodland. All my peonies are in parts of the garden that receive a bit of 
>summer irrigation.
>Among the woody peonies that Jim discussed in the first part of his 
>introduction, I like the large form of P. lutea known as "ludlowii" to 
>gardeners. I was given a seedling of this years ago by Margaret Mason of 
>Portland, a great gardener now departed. My original plant is now quite 
>large, and its seedlings have popped up here and there. The seeds, which 
>are huge, must be moved around by animals, since one seedling is in the 
>woods about 50 meters from the parent plant. I also have a little colony of 
>P. delavayi, which spreads stoloniferously in the shade of some Styrax and 
>Cercis trees; its emerging red foliage is pretty in spring, and I've been 
>told the flowers of this plant are large for the species. Both these shrubs 
>are rather ugly in winter, since the old pedicels and leaves tend to hang 
>on like rotting rags to the awkward woody stems. Many kinds of bulbs can be 
>grown under woody peonies; under P. delavayi, for instance, I have a carpet 
>of pale blue Puschkinia, which is pretty with the beginnings of the red 
>foliage, and there are clusters of yellow erythroniums under one P. lutea, 
>and many Cyclamen hederifolium under another.
>Jane McGary
>Northwestern Oregon, USA
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