June 10, 2008

Come look at the photo gallery I created of the beautiful peonies at my farm!

I simply adore tree peonies and have been collecting them for quite a long time.  This was an especially good year for my tree peony border and even though their flowers have faded, I thought I’d give you a glimpse of their extraordinary blooms.  There is an entire photo gallery I captioned on the next page!


The Chinese have been cultivating tree peonies, or mudan, for 1,500
years.  But these fabulous flowering shrubs are still a novelty in
American gardens because Chinese garden nurseries have been off-limits
to gardeners in the West, until recently.  Close relatives of the
familiar herbaceous peonies, which die back to the ground every fall,
tree peonies, on the other hand, are woody-stemmed.  In addition to
producing the garden’s largest, most glorious flowers, the plants are
also hardy and attractive shrubs.

The Japanese were introduced to tree peonies when seafaring monks
brought them to Japan more than 1,000 years ago.  The Japanese
developed their own hybrids.  Many are extremely fragrant, and some
bear flowers up to twelve inches in diameter.  A third group of tree
peonies was created in the United States during the twentieth century.
Known as American hybrids, their blossoms are generally smaller than
other peonies, but the colors are extraordinary.  The wonderful thing
about the three different groups is that they have different blooming
periods.  In my garden in Westchester County, NY, the Chinese mudan bloom
first in mid May, followed by the Japanese hybrids, about two weeks
later.  My American hybrids bloom last, giving me a full month of
incredible blooms, some as large as dinner plates.  And each year the
prolific peonies produce more and more gorgeous flowers.

I took these photos with my Canon.