Thursday, August 30, 2018

2018 Peony 'Pink Double Dandy' aka 'Keiko' for Sale at Song Sparrow

Klehm's Introduces New Itoh Peonies for Sale

Finally! My favorite intersectional peony so far, Peony 'Pink Double Dandy' also known as Peony 'Keiko' is for sale at Klehm's Song Sparrow. They just sent out a note this afternoon saying that they'd just added it to their catalog. This is the first time in 5 years that a peony grower has offered it in their catalog. I've been doing my intersectional peony Price Lists since 2013, and this is the first time it has ever been on the list. (I just updated the list today to include these 2 new offerings.) This peony is a Southern Peony Best Performer, 2015 Peony 'Keiko' (Adored) Best Performer - Week 4, and several people have asked me how to get their hands on one. Before now, you would have had to purchase your plant from a local nursery that carried Monrovia plants and found it for sale as Peony 'Keiko' (that's how I got mine) or been lucky enough to purchase it at an APS auction (ultra-rarely offered there either).

Peony 'Pink Double Dandy'
aka 'Keiko'™ 愛幕 (Adored)

While the photos of the peony in Klehm's email are very pretty, they just don't do the flower justice. Take a look at the photo above of Peony 'Pink Double Dandy' aka Peony 'Keiko'™ 愛幕 (Adored) that was taken in my garden this year. If you're still looking for this peony, now's your chance to snag one. I really think this peony has the potential to become an APS Gold Medal winner. It blooms for weeks, has very full double flowers, and holds its color well. In addition to 'Pink Double Dandy', it looks they are offering another selection by hybridizer Don R. Smith. (Read more about Don in my interview with him here, 2016 Peony Hybridizer Interview - Don R. Smith.) Klehm's Song Sparrow is also offering intersectional Peony 'Yankee Doodle Dandy'. According to my Price Lists, this one has only been offered once in the last 5 years, in 2013 by Peony's Envy. So this is another rare opportunity to snag another one of Don Smith's gorgeous Itohs. I just might have to snag this one myself. ;-)

Sunday, August 19, 2018

2018 Southern Peony Visits China National Flower Garden 中国国花园

Me in a Field of Red Peonies at China National Flower Garden

Gate of the China National Flower Garden 中国国花园

Of all the gardens we visited, the China National Flower Garden was definitely the most expansive and the most well cared for. It was probably around 4 miles round trip from one end to the other, and we walked the whole thing. I guess that's why they had motorized carts at the front of the garden that you could ride for 10 yuan. This garden had only a few structures - a Chinese gazebo, and a long wooden bridge over a sea of peonies, a small outdoor amphitheater, and a few bathrooms along the way. This garden focused mostly on nature and plants. It was a very long oval or rectangular garden with two very wide hardscape paths made of cement or stone or block lining each long edge of the garden, with medium sized paths winding in and out and around of the middle.

China National Flower Garden Map

Chinese Peony Art in the Garden

As we entered the garden, these Chinese peony art panels were set up along the walkway. I loved the eye-catching yellow scroll work on the top and bottom edges, and they had planted some brightly colored blooming annuals around each art installation as well. Each art panel had cut outs in it to incorporate the backdrop - the natural surroundings of the beautifully landscaped garden - into the art. All of the tree peonies in this garden had completely finished blooming which was a little sad, since there were miles and miles of them. However the garden was still a lovely place to visit with each section beautifully landscaped. There were lots of trees of all types, even lots of palm trees, which helped convince me that the climate here in Luoyang is even warmer than my own.

Peony and Palm Trees

Anemone Peony Flower

They also had the largest herbaceous peony display in the center of the garden, which appeared to be in full bloom (lucky for us). There were lots of varieties and colors of herbaceous peonies, however they were all red, dark pink, light pink, or white (mixed or somewhere in between). Absent from this garden and all gardens we visited were coral herbaceous peonies, yellow herbaceous peonies, and peach herbaceous peonies. It appears that US hybridizing of herbaceous peonies has far exceeded the Chinese color range. Also absent from their garden were intersectional peonies. I did not see even one intersectional peony anywhere, and they should have been in bloom at just this time. I guess they just haven't caught on here yet. We also found this peony garden photographer waiting to capture your photograph surrounded by all of the gorgeous blooming peonies!

Peony Garden Photographer

Field of Red Herbaceous Peonies

Isabella in a Field of Red Peonies

Peonies with Rock

I also found this pretty pink peony blooming amongst the architectural looking grass with a nice rock backdrop, just like art waiting to be photographed. It was just too perfect looking to pass up photographing! Then when I saw this wave of hot pink peonies contrasting with the taller white grass, it felt like I was just looking at nature's art studio. Surrounded by glorious masses of peonies blooming everywhere, I really felt like I was in peony heaven. What a compliment to the landscape designers of this beautiful Chinese peony garden. I really felt like I was taking mental notes (and photographs) to help me incorporate at least some of their uses of peonies into my own garden.

Hot Pink Peonies with White Grass

Peonies with Small Flowering Plant

Landscaped Peony Beds

Peonies with Rock

Gazebo and Peonies on Hill

When we came upon this gazebo, it was just breathtaking. A small place to sit and rest in the center of a garden filled with herbaceous peonies. The gazebo was sitting atop a small hill. The sidewalk leading up to the summit was lined with eye-popping pink peonies, creating a wave of pink going up the hillside. All around this gazebo were just masses of peonies in all different colors in every direction. There were pinks, hot pinks, multi colored peonies of white & yellow, pink & yellow, double reds, and double whites. There was eye candy everywhere you looked, and everything just. smelled. so. good. I just wished I could stay.

Red Herbaceous Peony

White Peonies with Yellow Center

White Herbaceous Peony with Yellow Center

Masses of Peonies

Another thing that struck me as odd was how many peonies I saw growing in the shade. They weren't just growing leaves in the shade. They were growing flowers, and lots of them! How in the world did they do it? Many of the trees here were also very mature (towering), and not just one tree, lots of trees! Perhaps the key was the watering system they had set up in the garden. Maybe peonies (even herbaceous peonies) are able to tolerate shade as long as they have an adequate water supply. Perhaps the largest danger of competition from trees is not the access to sun, but the access to water? The tree roots just consume so much water. If you can keep the peonies and the tree well watered, that's the key?

Peonies Growing in Shade

Peonies Growing in Shade

Peony Watering System

They seemed to have a watering system set up for the entire garden, even the tree peonies, which seemed odd to me since I've always been told the fastest way to kill a tree peony is to over-water it. Now I feel like perhaps I have been under-watering my tree peonies, and I need to go home and water them! The soil that they grew their peonies in seemed to be like wet mud. From what I could tell, they seemed to water the garden often enough to always keep the soil moist. The soil was not black or red or white, but appeared to be mostly an even brown color, with perhaps the slightest hint of red. It seemed like a mix of all soil types - clay, humus, and sand. The texture of the soil was very thick, much like the red clay soil of my own growing area, however not as red.

Wet Dirt for Growing Peonies

Wet, Irrigated, Clay-Like Soil

Hot Pink Full Peonies

Sea of Pink Peonies

Peony Walkway Stone

Rose Garden Statues

They did also have some roses in this garden, but I didn't spend much time photographing them (because, of course, peonies are much more lovely). They even had peonies planted in their rose gardens. (That tells you exactly how much they love peonies in China.) We did see this nice art installation in the rose garden. There were 7 columns of varying heights, each one painted with a different color rose. The column itself was painted with a giant rose, and there was also a small square cube on the column that had a smaller work of art with each rose color. Past the rose garden I spotted this awesome pagoda. It had so much detail all over it. It featured a different painting under each eave, so many multi colored patterns, and Chinese characters painted in gold.

Me with the Garden Pagoda

Palm Trees and Peonies

Gorgeous Hot Pink Herbaceous Peonies

Hot Pink Peony Flowers

Peonies with Garden Rock with Chinese Inscription

After leaving the pagoda, we walked along inside it's pavilion until we came to a bridge. The bridge was a very long walkway over a sea of peonies. There were both tree and herbaceous peonies under this bridge. The tree peonies had finished blooming, but the herbaceous peonies were in their prime. On this long bridge walkway we saw a rock with an inscription in Chinese. Also along this bridge, we came upon this one herbaceous peony in this sea of herbaceous peonies. It was huge, with probably 50 or more stems, and 75-100 blooms on the plant, but the number of stems or blooms was not the most amazing thing about this peony. It was the height. This had to be the tallest herbaceous peony I had ever seen in my life! I just had to jump off the foot bridge to go stand beside of it and take a picture. It was up to my chin, and I am 5'7. So this peony had to be 5 feet tall or more! Wow! Just - WOW!

Me Standing with the Tallest
Herbaceous Peony I've Ever Seen!

Me Smelling the Tallest
Herbaceous Peony I've Ever Seen!

Isabella Standing with the Tallest
Herbaceous Peony I've Ever Seen!

The tree peony blooms had all been removed right away in this garden. There was no hybridizing happening here, from what I could tell. I suppose they want to make sure the peony plants save all of their energy for growing a larger bush and making blooms for next year. The only tree peony plants I found in bloom in this garden that were planted in the soil, were about 3-4 yellow tree peonies that probably sent up a late bloom. Most of their tree peonies were grown in the open sun. However I was quite surprised to see quite a few of their tree peonies and herbaceous peonies were grown under a bit of tree cover, mostly from very petite trees. However occasionally some were grown under much larger trees as well. The majority of the peonies grown in the sun were also protected here from large metal structures with greenhouse type glass at the top, which the garden workers were in the process of taking down, since all of the tree peonies were finished blooming here.

Yellow Tree Peonies Under Greenhouse Like Cover

Yellow Tree Peony Blossom

This garden also contained a giant netted butterfly house with a small koi fish pond and waterfall inside. There was also a bird garden with outdoor structures built to house, feed, and water some special green and yellow birds. These large round shaped wire structures were made of a metal wire similar to chicken wire, but with squares instead of hexagons. They were kind of like odd garden art - houses for birds built in different globe shapes with climbing roses growing on the sides of the cages. There was also a small Inscription Museum, which contained some old Chinese books and artifacts containing Chinese characters.

Yuanlai in Butterfly Garden Koi Pond with Waterfall

Bird Garden Sculptures with Climbing Roses

This garden also contained vendors set up under square tents all in a line, selling toys, peony scarves, hats, umbrellas, peony cakes, peony tea, peony seeds, peony paintings, peony fans, peony t-shirts and peony cheongsams. Everything peony you could think of. I did not buy any peony art work on this trip to Luoyang, since I just wasn't fond of the art style here. It was a unique art style, expansive paintings with wide brush strokes, almost making the paintings seem like they were shaded. It was quite the contrast to the smaller scale, more delicate paintings of Souzhou, which were more detailed, with fine lines and beautiful intricacy. I did find a few peony scarves, a peony UV umbrella, a peony bracelet to take home with me. We also stopped for a few treats on our way out of the garden - a large chocolate shell covered croissant-like bun filled with red bean paste and a grapefruit tea - both very delicious! Yum!

Garden Vendors Selling Peony Merchandise

Chinese Pastries for Sale in the Garden

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

2018 Fall Peony Sale @ Song Sparrow

Klehm's Song Sparrow Peony Sale

It's that time of year, fall peony sale time. If you haven't ordered any roots yet this year, now's the time to squeeze in your last minute orders. I got an email yesterday with information on Song Sparrow's fall sale. It looks like they have 7 peony cultivars on sale this year. Of the 7 cultivars on sale, I only grow 2 of them - Peony 'Scarlet O'Hara' and Peony 'Green Lotus'. Both of those peonies are actually stellar growers here in the South. Peony 'Scarlet O' Hara' makes a nice bush with nicely distributed bright red single blooms, named after the famous Southern belle of Gone with the Wind. You have to really love wild and crazy and/or unusual blooms (which I do) to love Peony 'Green Lotus'. Peony 'Green Lotus' makes a nice bush that is covered in green and white (with hints of pink), irregular shaped blooms with crinkled petals.

2018 Song Sparrow Peony Order

I had just actually placed an order with Klehm's a few days ago. I ordered Peony 'Ursa Minor' because of how beautiful it this year when the 2018 American Peony Society Tours Oregon Perennial Company. Seeing as Klehm was the original hybridizer of the plant, I figured Klehm's Song Sparrow was the best place to buy it! I've also been wanting Tree Peony 'Joseph Rock' for a while now, and I decided that now was the time to order it.. I really love how double the blooms are, and I'm really excited to try growing it. Another one of the 7 cultivars on sale their fall sale caught my eye as well. It is Peony 'Glowing Candles'. The color of it is just gorgeous, and I also love the symmetry. The small puffs of pale pink in the center of the flower are a nice bonus too. I'm hoping I can add this one to my existing order. :-) Let's see...

Peony 'Glowing Candles'