Peonies. I love peonies. There is no other flower you want to nestle into and actually go to sleep on.
These are my favourite peonies for pillowy billowiness.
‘Barbara’ has been the queen of my rose garden this week.
‘Barbara’ exudes competence and confidence. She knows how to be a peony.
And here she is after the main blooms have been removed, leaving the secondary, smaller flowers. They are less ‘double’, and have spikier petaloids.
We inherited this next peony, which I think is ‘Festiva Maxima’. Never was a name more apt. I love the picotee edging of deepest magenta on this peony. It reminds me of raspberry ripple ice-cream. Or to bring it up to date, a huge meringue with a swirl of blackcurrant.
This peony is huge, and produces a mass of flowers. It needs heavy-duty staking, and tends to still fall over into its neighbour, which may be Peony ‘Edulis Superba’. These peonies were flowering when we moved in. Every year I wonder if I should dig up ‘Festiva’ because it is too close to ‘Edulis’, but somehow I never get around to it, and four years on, here they are, still in a tussle.
I need to indulge my fetish for magenta peonies. These are all in my bright border. First ‘Karl Rosenfield’. This photo was taken two years ago when it was just casually chatting to Geum ‘Hilltop Beacon’.
Oh! That colour combination still gives me a thrill. And the juxtaposition of delicate little geum with its bowed head, just whispering, and big blowsy peony, all ears.
I couldn’t quite reproduce that combination this year, because the geums were almost over before the peony popped its pods. But no matter. Here it is with Geranium ‘Brookside’.
Do you want to get closer? Just look at those softly scalloped petals. The tumbling silken folds!
Now here for a spot of confusion. I have mixed up my ‘Kansas’ and my ‘Inspecteur Lavergne’ You know how it is, you plant out, you make a note, you lose the note, you pencil it in on your plan, what you think you planted where. Then you doubt yourself and rub it out. And before you know it, you’ve rubbed it out and re-written it so many times there is no way of tracing your original, probably accurate, hunch.
So I think this is ‘Kansas’.
But it could be ‘Inspecteur Lavergne’. It is the silver edging that is confusing me, because Inspecteur is supposed to have the silver-edging, but I’m sure I didn’t plant it here.
Whatever it is, let’s just adore it. In the morning dew,
In the afternoon sunshine.
Now I think we need a palate-cleanser. Peony ‘Duchess de Nemours’.
Oh, I love that lime green at the centre.
The Duchess was growing under our lime tree until last winter. She was stoical, and I was loathe to move her because she looked so fantastic with all the other zingy greens under the tree. But she could only muster a handful of flowers there, and really was roughing it with the roots of the lime tree. So out she came, and she is now thriving.
‘Duchess de Nemours’ has the most perfectly white buds you ever saw. Here is one, just opening out. I’ve had to be very patient with this peony (not my forte) because she is almost the last to flower. But she is worth the wait. She smells lovely too. Which not all peonies do. There are only one or two which are offensive, and only then if you really stick your nose in. Most have a sort of peppery, gingery, sometimes pungent spice-mixture smell. I find that it blends well with roses if you pick them together. The peony’s spiciness balances out the roses’ sweet fruitiness.
The very last peony to to flower in my garden, is ‘Paul M. Wild’. He too has marvellous buds.
They are tantalisingly slow to unfurl. I love the notching on the petals of this peony, like they have been laser-cut.
Here he is on the kitchen table, his petals just opened out a little more, to reveal some little whitish tendrils of petalloids just nestling between the petals.
Right. I need my morning coffee to wake me up after all this lounging about with the peonies.
Which are your favourites?
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