Friday, November 30, 2012

Molly the Witch

 
We are now less than half a year away from the time when Molly the Witch (Paeonia mlokosewitchii) casts her spell: she almost always blooms for Mother's day--or even a tad earlier in these days of earlier springs. As you gain your horticultural stripes in colder regions, you must somehow get your mitts on this subtle queen of wild peonies.
 
 
Here are the shoots in March and early April...emerging in my home garden...even at this early and rather provocative stage, Molly is arresting! 
 
 
Here she is in her full glory, this clump happens to be at Laporte Avenue Nursery in Fort Collins--one of the few nurseries that regularly grows this gem. Although I can't guarantee they always have it in stock (it does tend to sell out quickly)...
 
 
Here's a fine specimen on Ridge Road in Littleton--at the Snyder garden. I suspect more than one passing motorist has swerved...
 
 
Even in seed it is a wonder in the garden. Why am I writing now, in the early days of winter about this glory of early spring? Well, friends--when Molly is blooming I am bewitched by a thousand or more gems that are popping up everywhere (and this coming year I am likely to be in Sweden)...that's what blogs are for, silly: a chance to linger over the year and glom on to a few gems like this that enrich our lives so much. We have one specimen of Molly at Denver Botanic Gardens that must be 30 years old and just gets better and better. Every year I find my way down to it and spend a few minutes enthralled: that sort of ritual fills the life of a gardener with magic moments. If you've found your way to Prairiebreak, I know you know!
 
I think that botanists have recently lumped this into some other Caucasian taxon. We horticulturists are not apt to change too quickly! It does get better: at Gothenburg Botanic Gardens almost twenty years ago I saw a tiny form of this that was deep golden yellow from Iran...it did not survive the trip back back then: time to write Zetterlund and beg some more seed!

2 comments:

  1. I planted a ITOH Yellow peony this year I picked up on sale. I wonder if it has Paeonia mlokosewitchii blood. It honestly looks very similar, but has fuller blooms. I like the plant but hate the name. It is called Bartzella.

    James

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  2. I have seen some of the ITOH types--they are pretty splendid: I don't know if they use Mlokosewitchii. It's pretty distinctive and a very early bloomer. I shall have to try them some time!

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