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Wednesday, April 15, 2020

2020 Chinese Tree Peony Seedlings All White

I just wanted to report back on some Chinese tree peony seeds I purchased and planted back in 2013 Chinese Peony Seeds from Ebay. These have been growing 7 years now, and I am sad to say they are all blooming white. The foliage of the plant and the pink and yellow centers of the flowers all remind me of my Tree Peony 'White Phoenix', 2018 Tree Peony 'White Phoenix' Best Performer - Week 2, which is just a named P. Ostii variety. The first of these tree peonies started blooming 2 years ago, just a single white bloom. Now 2 years later, there are several more blooming white, and all of them are growing with the same foliage.


Chinese Tree Peony Seedlings All White - 3/24

Maybe it is just me, but I am becoming a bit more distrustful of tree peony seeds sold from China. It seems like most of them are just common P. Ostii seeds (which are mostly white). None of them are actually from the bold, beautiful, brightly colored tree peonies they claim to sell you seeds from. I suppose many of those very fully double tree peony varieties pictured are probably infertile anyway, not actually producing seed. It all seems to be some sort of marketing scam to take your money and then send you some very common, cheap peony seeds instead. :(


Chinese Pink Tree Peony Seedlings


Chinese Pink Seedling Sign


P2 Black Tree Peony Seedlings


P2 Black Seedling Sign


P3 Blue Tree Peony Seedling


P3 Blue Seedling Sign


Chinese Tree Peony Seedlings All White - 3/26


Chinese Tree Peony Seedlings All White - 3/27


Chinese Tree Peony Seedlings All White - 3/27

Saturday, March 14, 2020

2020 Tree Peony Seeds from Luoyang, China Grow!!


Tree Peony Seedling #2 on 3/9

I was beginning to give up on those tree peony seeds from China, 2018 Planting Tree Peony Seeds from Luoyang China, but it looks like they are starting to germinate this year! I stared at some empty dirt and kept picking weeds out of the area last year hoping to find a sprout, but never did. After not seeing anything pop up yet this year, I thought there was no hope for them this year, until I saw a seedling pop up in that area a week or so ago. Even then I was suspicious whether that seedling came from one of the seeds from China or just some random lost or rogue seed in the bed. When I looked for that first seed a few days later the bed was empty - no seedling. I began to wonder whether some underground (or above ground?) critter got the roots and/or seedling. I imagined some animal just sucking it underground, since the tree peony seedling was nowhere in sight.


Tree Peony Seedling #1 on 3/9

After spending some time pulling some miniature weeds from the seedling bed, I finally discovered that first seedling (Tree Peony Seedling #1 pictured above). As you can see it was either killed by some low overnight temperatures (which we did experience) or some kind of fungal wilt. The cold temperatures can also cause the wilt. So it is really hard to say what the culprit was in this case (but some corroborating evidence may exist for the cold theory, as I've noticed some selected tips of other new plants with burnt - dried & blackened - tips). So I think this tree peony seedling may have experienced cold burn/freeze damage. That's very sad. This is the first year this peony tried to grow a leaf, and it got knocked down. I don't think this one will be able to come back next year. I guess that is just part of nature's selection process.


Tree Peony Seedling Signs


Tree Peony Seedling #2 on 3/12

I guess you could say the biggest fail with these seeds are the signs. I took a lot of time to figure out how to plant these seeds with their signs since the peonies I purchased had no names on the flower only pictures. I even purchased some special Black & Decker UV plastic laminate to laminate them with. As you can see that laminate was not really UV protected. Too bad about the false advertising on those laminating sheets. These signs didn't even last 1 full year before fading. The flowers photos were all so beautiful and colorful when I put them on there. Oh well, at least I took a photo of them and scanned them into the computer before I put them outside in the sun to fade! LOL


Tree Peony Seedling #3 with Signs

These tree peony seedlings are definitely having some challenges. As you can see Tree Peony Seedling #3 (pictured below) looks like it had 2 tiny stems originally, and one of them looks like it has already been bitten off. I hope some of these Chinese tree peony seedlings make it through Mother Nature's wrath into adulthood in a few years, so that I may see their beautiful blossoms. I'm just hoping that they aren't all single, white Paeonia ostii seeds/seedlings. Only time will tell...


Tree Peony Seedling #3

Saturday, February 29, 2020

2020 Peony Hybridizer Interview - Joshua Scholten

Joshua Scholten is a 5th generation farmer, and a 4th generation flower farmer from Holland. Their family farms originally grew vegetables, then later flowers (including tulips, irises, and peonies at times). Joshua, along with his father and brother, were the first ones to the focus the family business entirely on peonies in 2005. In 2012, Joshua and his brother established the name of the family company as Peony Shop Holland. If you haven't had the opportunity to purchase a peony from Peony Shop Holland yet, I'm sure you'll be rethinking that decision after you see the beautiful, mouth-watering peonies Joshua's been creating over in The Netherlands. :-)


Peony Hybridizer - Joshua Scholten

Here's Joshua's story on his family peony business:

"We've started the family peony business as 'Scholten-Keeman' together with the 4 of us, in the early years my father (Theo) and my mum (Tini) built up the peony farm from 1989, when Jeremy and I were old enough we joined the company. As that time we had Tulips, Irises and Peonies. In 2001 we were known as Peony Nursery Paionia (paionia.com) but the firm name was officially 'Scholten-Keeman. When my mum in 2005 died we continued the firm with only the 3 of us but only with the focus on Peonies. In 2009 we changed the name of 'paionia' into Peony Shop under the officially name scholten-keeman. (peonyshop.com) In 2011 my father Theo died and Jeremy and I took over the company. And then re-named the firm after 25 years of 'Scholten-Keeman' in 2012 into 'Peony Shop Holland' because that has a more international name for the Peonies."

"My older brother Jeremy Scholten (born 2-2-72) deserves some credit in the article as well, even though he's on the background. He's testing everything with the new seedlings and is responsible for the dividing of these seedlings. Together we're a great team!"

"Nothing better than a family company :)"

1. Did your early life give you an introduction to the world of plants and flowers?

"Yes, as a young kid I was always busy with flowers. We grew up with Tulips, Irises and Peonies."

2. What year did you start hybridizing?

"I think around 2001 for fun and more seriously in 2003."

3. What made you want to get into peony hybridizing?

"Just to create unusual colors and very early peony hybrids for cut-flower production."

4. Are you self trained, or have you taken classes or read books on hybridizing before you started?

"In the first years, I was inspired by Don Hollingsworth, and he helped me to understand the first baby steps. Later on I developed my own path."

How did Don Hollingsworth help you understand the baby steps?

"Helping to understand the process of germination."

5. How would you characterize your breeding program?

"Creating of very early peony hybrids for cut-flower production in all kinds of colors & types. (pastel, powder color, yellow, white, pink, lime-green, red)."

6. What kind of peonies do you specialize in?

"Mainly herbaceous hybrids for cut-flower production"

7. How has your "eye" for evaluating peonies changed over the years?

"Peonies really need to add something to the existing palette of colors, time of flowering, size of the flower, production, growth habit and the last year checking for fragrance."

8. When you look at a plant as an experienced hybridizer, what do you see?

"Color, size of the flower, flower bud size, production etc."

9. When you evaluate your seedlings, what are your major criteria?

"Color, flower season, doubleness, fragrance, production"

10. What are your aspirations for the future of peonies?

"Creating earlier double peonies to extend the season, and or unusual color combination, (blue peonies)"

What is the closest peony you have to "blue" so far?

"Nothing yet to be close to 'blue' - just this is a real challenge!"

11. What is your favorite named and registered cultivar so far (of your own) and why?

"'Maximus', because of the giant double blush/white flower. 'Maximus' is very early ready for cutting and has a lovely fragrance!"


Joshua Scholten's Peony 'Maximus'

12. Which of your peonies are your oldies but goodies?

"Red Charm as cut-flower producer, Lemon Chiffon for both cut-flower production & breeding purposes."

13. Which of your new and/or upcoming registrations are you most excited about?

"The new registrations to come. We will introduce many, many good varieties but 'Tini Keeman' (named to my mum) is one of the specials.""

Why did you name 'Tini Keeman' after your mother?

"'Tini Keeman' was named after my mother, as she was an inspiration for us all. She loved the old English tea roses so much. At her doorstep there was one English tea rose growing as well. 'Tini Keeman' peony was a surprise because of the rose-shape on opening and its beautiful color. My mum really loved the old English tea roses. So it was exactly her peony. (She died in 2005)."


Joshua Scholten's Peony 'Tini Keeman'

14. What is the story behind the first peony you ever registered?

"'Maximus' - as we love the rich Roman history, and the famous movie 'Gladiator' where Maximus is the 'Gladiator'."

Why did you choose to register this one first?

"'Maximus' was one of the first, as we registered a few at the same time. But for me 'Maximus' because of the very early double white, giant flower ready to be 'cutted' far before others in our cut-flower schedule."


Joshua Scholten's Peony 'Maximus'

15. What is the average length of time you evaluate a peony before you put it on the market?

"6-8 years"

16. How do you come up with the names for your peonies?

"95% Inspired by the Roman History"

17. Which of your peonies have proved to be the most popular with the public? Were any of these a surprise?

"'Maximus', 'Luna Fortuna', 'Valentine's Kiss' - they were all surprises! in color, flower types and time of flowering."

Why were they surprises?

"'Luna Fortuna' - early, lots of full double yellow flowers
'Maximus' - because of the very early giant white flower, never seen before such early double white flower
'Valentines Kiss' - the sometimes unique rose-shape of its flowers"


Joshua Scholten's Peony 'Luna Fortuna'


Joshua Scholten's Peony 'Valentine's Kiss'


Joshua Scholten's Peony 'Valentine's Kiss'

18. What excites you about other hybridizers programs?

"New colors and or time of flowering."

19. Has the pleasure you have taken from the world of peonies changed and evolved over the years?

"We're every day full with passion busy with our 'babies' and enjoy it as the very first day."

20. What would you like to say to newbies just getting into the world of hybridizing peonies?

"Have fun with the very first Peony to flower, as this feels like a 'new love' ;) everyone can do it, but you need a lot of patience!"

All Photos Courtesy of Joshua Scholten @ Peony Shop Holland

Monday, January 7, 2019

2019 Planting Chinese Peonies from Ebay


Chinese Tree Peony Order on Ebay

So I ordered these tree peonies on Ebay last August, and I just got around to planting them on the first of the year. I guess you could say I'm thinking these probably won't be correct. There weren't cheap, but they weren't that expensive either. Each of the orders was for 2 roots and it was $22.99 with free shipping. So I ended up with 4 roots altogether, but after opening the box and looking at the roots, I wasn't very motivated to plant them since they didn't really look like tree peonies to me. They looked like herbaceous roots. Also all 4 roots were in the same bag, and none of them were labeled for variety. I figured these were probably too good to be true, but I haven't seen anyone else offering tree peonies like these, and I actually did see the purple tree peony on my trip to China, 2018 Southern Peony Visits Shenzhou Peony Garden 神州牡丹园, (and it was my most favorite peony that I saw on the whole trip).


Chinese Purple Tree Peony

The color of the purple tree peony I photographed is not quite this blue toned (so obviously this photo was altered), but it was a lovely shade of lavender-pink-purple and it has this same "bomb" type peony flower form. So I had to try anyway since I really, really want one of those purple tree peonies. Who knows if I will ever find one, though? The roots however were a solid mass of crown with tons of eyes on them, no woody stems, and very little to no feeder roots. I'm sure they will live, but they will probably take many years to flower, and most likely they will be some type of herbaceous peony. I feel a little disappointed already, but my quest for the purple bomb type tree peony will go on, and I will just add the results of these roots to my 2018 Ebay Peony Seller Reviews, whenever they bloom and show their true colors!


'Qui Ball' Light Pink Tree Peony


Tuesday, December 11, 2018

2018 Planting Tree Peony Seeds from Luoyang China


Peony Seeds from Luoyang China with Garden Stakes

It took me a lot longer to figure out how to label these 2018 Tree Peony Seeds from Luoyang, China than it did to actually plant them. I did get them planted last week though, before our big snow, 2018 7 Inches of Snow on Southern Peony Gardens! (just in time, I guess!) I don't know what if anything they will do, but we shall see in the spring, if not spring 2019, then spring 2020, I suppose. I ended up laminating the photos of the seeds and attaching those to some copper garden stakes I had on hand. Since they didn't have an English name printed on them, I couldn't easily print a Brother label for them. Just in case they don't do much, I didn't want to have my husband go to the trouble of trying to figure out the translation for each of them.


Chinese Tree Peony Photo Garden Stakes

So what I did to create these garden stakes was first write a number on every paper and every plastic bag (1-20) so I could keep straight which picture went with which bag of seeds. Then I scanned in all of these tree peony photos in case I need to reference them later. Then I laminated each photo with some UV resistant laminating material. Then I used gorilla tape to affix each laminated photo to the copper garden stake. I'm kind of curious to see how these hold up. Even if these peony seeds don't do much, it will be an interesting experiment to see if the photos fade or not, whether the gorilla tape withstands the elements well, and how these "photo" garden stakes hold up outside.


Copper Tree Peony Garden Stakes


Saturday, November 24, 2018

2018 Tree Peony Seeds from Luoyang, China


Tree Peony Seeds fron Luoyang, China

So there's one thing I didn't mention much about my trip to China this year, the peony seeds I purchased! I got a few here and a few there. Most of the seeds I purchased were just outside the garden gates during my 2018 Southern Peony Visits Luoyang National Peony Garden 洛阳国家牡丹园 (North). The seeds in the tiny plastic zip bags are the ones that came from the Luoyang National Peony Garden. You can see the table they had set up to sell the seeds below. I felt a bit skeptical as to whether these tree peony seeds actually came from the varieties pictured in the packets, but for 1 yuan (17 cents) for 10 packets, how can you go wrong? So I bought two different sets of them. My guess is they may be all the same variety, maybe even herbaceous or p. ostii. Who knows? I must say I am very curious, though to find out. Of course, it will probably take me five years or more to see any blooms from these.


Table of Tree Peony Seeds for Sale


Woman Selling Tree Peony Seeds

The photo above it the woman who sold me the seeds. She told my husband (in Chinese) that she and her husband have their own peony farm. I have no idea if it is true, but it sounds neat. They were also selling several varieties of potted tree (and herbaceous) peonies in full bloom as well. I wish I could have purchased a few of those tree peonies to bring back home! They also showed us how to sprout the tree peony seeds. They just used a plastic water bottle with and inch or inch and a half of water in it. I'm not sure if they put the seeds in the fridge to get them to sprout their roots first or just sprouted both the roots and the leaves in the bottle. That was certainly wild. I wish I could have found out more about how they did it. Maybe I will try a few of my seeds that way just to see what happens. I usually don't have much luck sprouting seeds that aren't in the dirt. I guess I just haven't tried or practiced it enough. I usually end up with mold of some sort.


Peony Seeds Sprouting in Water Bottle


Chinese Tree Peony Seeds

Here are a few more close up photos of the seeds I purchased (front and back of the packaging). You can click any of these photos to see a larger version. I don't know what any of them say. I guess I need to enlist my husband to help me translate them. I just can't decide if it is worth the time and effort to do so. The last time I had him take the time to meticulously translate each and every variety (and make a separate label for each), 2013 Ali Express Chinese Tree Peony Seeds, none of them sprouted!!! (I've placed more than one order for Chinese tree peony seeds in the past, and the other one from Ebay did sprout, 2013 Chinese Peony Seeds from Ebay , 2014 Chinese Tree Peony Seeds Starting to Sprout.) So who knows what these tree peony seeds will do, if they even sprout (I hope so!), or what color they will be, but I am definitely interested to find out!


Chinese Tree Peony Seeds


Chinese Tree Peony Seeds


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