Peony season is still in full swing in my garden! Our temperature is quite mild here (in Ireland), which would have an influence on how quickly (or rather, slowly!) the flowers bloom. It started around the middle of May with the blooming of my Tree Paeonia Renkaku. Following quickly behind that was my new hybrid peony, Paeonia ‘Hillary’, which started to bloom on the 20th of May. I only bought it in early spring this year, so it was a treat to have a flower this year!
“A hybrid peony?” you ask. Why yes, it is. I had not heard of a hybrid before and was curious to learn about them (and to get one!). Here’s what I’ve learned about my new hybrid peony ‘Hillary’ (from the Peony Shop Holland):
Paeonia Intersectional or Itoh Hybrid Peony Intersectional Peony Hybrids, also known as Itoh Peonies, named in honor of Toichi Itoh, the originator of these unique hybrid peonies. They are representative of the progeny of crossing or hybridizing the two main groups or selections of peonies; the herbaceous hybrids which die down sub surface buds during their dormant season and the tree or woody shrub peonies which retain a year round woody branch structure above ground level.
During their dormant season, the Itoh or Intersectional hybrids retain only extremely short (1″-2″) woody stems above ground level. Ornamentally, they achieve the best of both parental worlds with the handsome flowers and foliage of the woody tree peonies displayed on an herbaceous plant, with annual new growth originating from buds below ground level.
Strong healthy plants form attractive dense, neat rounded bushes which are shorter in stature than most tree peonies. Flowers are displayed above the handsome foliage that remains greener longer than their herbaceous parents. Intersectional hybrids are somewhat hardier than tree peonies and more tolerant of heat and humidity which extends their ornamental potential in both the North and south.
The Irish Specialist Nursery Association hosted St. Anne’s Park Plant Fair in Dublin in March. I don’t usually head into Dublin on the weekends, and honestly driving someplace new is always a challenge for me, but I was intrigued enough to put aside my fears and check out what was on offer at the park. A slight tangent here, but St. Anne’s Park is absolutely fabulous! It was full of life with the plant sale along with a farmers market and lots of families milling through, just in the hour or so I was there. It is on Mount Prospect Avenue in Raheny, with free parking all along the outside of the park, but I’m sure any Irish ‘locals’ would know all about it already!
The point of telling you about the Plant Fair is that I bought my hybrid Peony there from Leamore Nursery. It was well worth challenging my uncomfortableness of driving someplace new (especially on my own!) to get such a lovely plant (and a few others, too).
The description for ‘Hillary’ stated that it should have large double flowers opening as very dark pink, gradually fading to cream on the upper part of the petals. I found the color difficult to describe – I’m not sure I’d describe it as dark pink. It did fade, though, changing the look. I look forward to seeing it in years to come with more blooms in different stages of color!
I’m always thankful for a fully hardy plant, and it enjoys either full sun or part shade, with deep, fertile, humous-rich moist but well drained soil. I think it is in a really good location, so I’m hopeful that it will be happy in my garden.
Fast forward to June 11th for the next blooming peony (Bowl of Beauty).
‘Bowl of Beauty’ is an herbaceous perennial (no woody stem like the Tree Peony has) which grows to 80cm tall, and has mid-green, divided leaves. What I like about this peony is that it looks completely different closed as when opened. The flowers are a bright vibrant pink on the outside with a cream almost pointy-like petals on the inside, and open as wide as 20cm.
Just in case you’ve ever wondered (like I have!), the peony, or paeony, is a flowering plant in the genus Paeonia. They are native to Asia, Europe and Western North America. There, now we all know! 🙂
I try to support them as they tend to flop over with the weight of the flowers! There are some handy metal supports you can buy. I have tied them up, too, which also works. My next blooming peony plant needs lots of support (no woody stems like the Tree Peony!) as again the flowers are heavy. I don’t know the official name, but it is a common white variety that normally just has a streak of pink in it. This year, though, it is more pink than white!
I even checked my pictures from last year (because I was doubting myself!) – they were 99% white last year with streaks of pink. Funny isn’t it?
Don’t get me wrong, I love pink! I think they are still so pretty. They were quite conical in shape this year too.
This next Peony, which is also currently still blooming, was added to the garden in 2017, and this year is the first it has bloomed. The color is one of my favorite – a deep fuchsia pink! I bought it at National Trust’s Hidcote, in Gloucestershire, England, which is an Arts and Crafts garden in the north Cotswolds. I was there on a very special ‘Gardening Gals Getaway‘, so it reminds me of the wonderful time I had with some very special friends.
I’ve had a difficult time capturing the color with my camera – the sun distorts the color!
You’ll just have to take my word for it that it looks different in person (and much prettier).
Every year peony plants add more flowers, which is such a delight. I have two more Peony plants that aren’t quite blooming yet, both of them ‘Sarah Bernhardt’. And then the Peony season will be finished in our garden. That’s not a bad run!
The last one to bloom … Peony ‘Sarah Bernhardt’.
I hope you have enjoyed my Peony tour! It was a pleasure having you visit! Which is your favorite Peony? 🙂