Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fresh bowl of Peonies for Lucy

My friend Lucy has timed her birthday perfectly - right in the centre of Peony and Rose season.
Consequently, whenever she has a birthday party, I come along with a big bucket of flowers. To be honest, there is no surprise involved, other than the fact of "fresh flowers" - nothing beats fresh flowers - the sight of them, the perfume, and even the certain knowledge that they are a transient gift, means that one tends to appreciate them while they are fresh, and live.

These are the old-fashioned Peonies - the ones everybody's Grandma loved.

"Sarah Bernhardt"

They are all cultivars of Paeonia lactiflora. This makes them different from the hybrids, such as Coral Charm and Red Charm which I showed a few weeks ago. To be honest, these Old-fashioned Peonies are more popular with the public, because they are "familiar" (even though they gasp at the beauty of the hybrids).

"Festiva Maxima"
One of the first Peonies introduced to cultivation in Europe.
Buds are white, but flecked red on outside.

Give someone a bunch of peonies like this, and watch them. They will stick their nose into the flower, pull their head back - and smile.
Not a bad reaction.

Festiva Maxima - opening up white. Red stigma on carpel.
The first of the Old Fashioned Roses are also open now. This is the lovely and nearly thornless "Fantin Latour". It just forms a thicket. I never prune it, (except to cut some flowers every year). It is perfectly teamed with the Chinese Beauty Bush (Kolkwitzia amabilis) as they both flower at the same time, with soft pink flowers.
I have combined the rose with the lovely Pimelia ferruginea (Pink Rice Flower). This native plant has been flowering so heavily that it nearly fell apart last week when we had several misty days on end. No rain, no wind, just mist. The moisture accumulated on the pink heads of flowers, and caused the plant to flop outwards, as it is quite a soft-wooded shrub. I grow this plant beside my front step, and I walk past it every time I enter the house. It has been flowering for about 6 weeks - amazing. I shall cut it back hard, as soon as the flowers fade. I was never successful in growing it in Canberra, but it is thriving here. A joyous plant.

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