Sunday, May 23, 2010

Aaaghhh! Everything's Opening at Once

Peonies, that is.

With the sudden warmth, the garden has been flooded with the fragrance of the Golden Peony, P mlokosewitschii, (no photo today) which is not as sweet as the later lactifloras, different and distinctive but pleasant. P steveniana might be contributing a bit to the overall ambient fragrance of the yard, but it is mostly mloko. And definitely marvelous! I hadn't noticed mloko's fragrance to be so pervasive before-- used to have to get my nose right into it. Maybe all the fresh air from cycling has sharpened my sense of smell. (Or maybe it just takes 20 years to recover from the miasma of fuel, wet paint and dense cigarette smoke which was the atmosphere of HMC Ships back then (I understand they've done away with the ciggies lately, but maybe not))

Paeonia tenuifolia subsp lithophila, a dwarf form of the Fern Leaf Peony. Single flower, and a group of 4 plants.

Two flowers this year on the newly-named Paeonia x steveniana cultivar "Contador's Triple Crown". You can read about it at the link below; but it isn't for sale... Due to the sudden heat wave the highlight rose edging of the petals is overly faded, and a better look is at the linked page.

A pale-pink flower on mloko-like foliage. This plant grown from seed labelled as "Paeonia mlokosewitschii/ wittmaniana/ caucasica hybrid"

And a white, or at least dead pale, form of P. steveniana.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

More New Openings in the Peony Department

Paeonia tenuifolia, the Fernleaf Peony, has opened in full sun. The dwarf subspecies in a bed which is a bit shaded in the mornings is not open yet. There are 2 plants in this photo; on the left, a dark red proper species; on the right, the larger plant is probably a hybrid (it has yet to set seed) and has flowers with a more magenta tint.

Paeonia steveniana, Steven's Peony if one must put a common name to it, as open as it will get. A cloudy day today, so the colour is intensified; it is never that intense of a yellow here.

And here it is behind a crowd of Paeonia mascula and some Paeonia caucasica (a subsp of mascula and pretty much identical to my eye.

A few more buds of steveniana, behind a few plants of another mascula close relative, Paeonia kesrouanensis. (More information about this plant, or any other, by looking up earlier posts in the index.)

And unexpectedly, a plant of the Golden Peony, Paeonia mlokosewitschii, a couple of days earlier than expected. And filling the yard with it's fragrance at an intensity I've never noticed before.

Good news for customers, there are about 15 potted plants from seed of this species in bud (will probably open sometime in the next week)-- not all will be yellow-flowered which is why I have to see the flowers before I can sell the plants- at least one looks like it will be magenta (mascula cross), and some may be apricot or very pale yellow, almost white. Can;t wait to see it (but have to!!)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Return of the Natives

It doesn't take long for the pollinated flowers of Red Maple to start showing the little winged fruits. The stems elongate significantly and contribute a lot of colour by staying red for some time while the wings green up a bit earlier. Incidently, the tree whose flowering I photographed earlier has no seed set at all; it was the first nearby red maple tree in flower (maybe because of proximity to the house?) and the flowers were open when we had our last (hopefully) snowfall of the spring, accompanied by over 45 hours of very cold temperatures. I have to guess that killed the open flowers although I couldn't tell at the time, while the ones still in bud survived to open later and produce seed.

Red elderberry, flowers and leaves pretty much fully deployed. A very open shrub, even in full sun which this one isn't. Showy enough, and easy care since I don't even have to plant it.

Speaking of native things, this year's black fly thermometer is out of calibration. Usually they only show up when the temperature is at or above 13C (by my thermometer in shade). But we've been seeing that so seldom that they're starting to buzz around at about 10C. The wind has seldom been still this year so they only manage to bug me during occasional lulls, which is good for me in the garden but a drag (one way) on the bike.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Race for Third

Hard on the heels of P. tomentosa comes P. mascula, the Male Peony. Some years there is no overlap, but this year there is. Which means getting out the paintbrush to pollinate the yellow Woolly one before the bees mess up the genetics. However, down in the shady woodland bed tomentosa rules alone with mascula not even showing colour yet (that is, not yet to the stage of the background bud in this photo). This is a late afternoon photo, with the flower just closing up as clouds move in.

Many others of the round-lobed leaf species are showing colour in their buds and are not too far from bursting forth either.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Variation in the Woolly Peony

A plant of Paeonia tomentosa is showing reddish tinges in foliage and in the petals. The foliage tint was more obvious and very attractive earlier in the spring, but even now is noticeable. The buds showed a bit too, but I was curious to see if that remained once the flowers opened. The second photo shows two plants together, for contrast.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Peony Season Officially Comences here (meanwhile in Edmonton...)

Yesterday afternoon (a gorgeous sunny cycling +23C afternoon!) the buds were still tight and showing no more colour than in the photos of 2 days ago. This morning, P. tomentosa the Woolly Peony was a yellow ball but not yet open, but by mid-afternoon the sun (although cooler than yesterday) had worked its magic and the first flower was open. 10 days ahead of 2006, 21 days ahead of 2007 (that's according to the previous entries in this blog).

In other good news on the tomentosa front, seedlings of this species are up so in a year or two I will once again be selling this species.

Meanwhile, P. mairei also opened after having had nicely coloured buds for several days (20 days ahead of 2007). However, we can see in the photos that these have some frost damage from the last snow day, more from the temperatures than from the snow itself; this probably retarded the opening of the buds by a few days. The frost damage is apparent in asymetrical petal shapes and in the outer rings of dead anthers (more noticable in the semi-open flower). Stigmas are very small too, as can be seen vaguely in comparison with the 2007 photo.

Glaucidium palmatum also opened over the weekend; this is considered by some botanists to be a member of the Peony family, although a different Genus. Horticulturally I find few similarities, but my analysis is only skin deep.

Meanwhile my sister in Edmonton posted photos of yesterday's wet snowfall which looks close to 5" deep... Strangely, if I recall correctly (and there's no guarantee of that!) Edmonton was having about +20C temperatures in sun during the last wintery blast here.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Spring Progresses

Indian Pear, Prunus pennsylvanica, a small native tree which usually paints the roadsides red and white with its' new leafs and flowers for a few weeks starting on the Victoria Day Weekend. But two weeks early this year. Its' flowering also usually marks the beginning of blackfly season, and does so again this year. (But I expect a short and sparse blackfly season again this year.) Can be grown as a shrub; it takes well to pruning (an unintended pun on the Genus...)

Flowers of the Cornelian Cherry, Cornus mas. This is the first time I have seen this shrub flower for me, although it is a bit hidden and I somewhat gave up on it years ago so haven't been looking attentively; for a first flowering it has quite a mass (again a naming pun!!) of flowers on it, most of them out of the frame of th camera. Planted in about 1991 or 2, one of the first tissue culture plants I bought through the Rhododendron Society. It's been a bit of a wait.

Red Barrenwort, Epimedium x rubrum, a fine slow-growing groundcover sub-shrub. Most years there is some old foliage which survives to hide the new growth and flowers a bit, but this year for some reason nothing. Maybe eaten by rabbits or something.

Maire's Peony, Paeonia mairei, the earliest to flower for me, but these are still in small pots near the front of a pot farm so maybe they would be later if they were in the ground. Or maybe not. A fairly small plant, but I no longer attribute that to them being in pots, as they are well-rooted through the drainage holes into the soil beneath.

Woolly Peony, Paeonia tomentosa, buds just starting to show some colour. Before P. mairei showed itself a couple of years ago, this was always the first peony to bloom, with no overlapping species. It's one of the lesser-known yellows from the Caucasus.