Two years ago, when my mom and I went to the Cleveland Flower Show, we both bought a Japanese tree peony (Paeonia Suffruticosa). She already had a yellow one at home, which she loved, but now she was smitten with another. 'Shima-nishiki' stole her heart and threatened to do the same with everyone that came into contact with it that day in May when we first set eyes on it.
'Shima-nishiki' means 'Fire Flame' in Japanese and it is aptly named. Its bloom is red and white striped and as she carried it to the car to take home, it commanded the attention of just about every one that passed by. Mom overheard two women talking as they were admiring the peony - "You knock her down and I'll grab the peony and run with it." It really was just that eye-catching.
And of course, there was only one.
But there was a beautiful pale pink one that I knew I could be happy with. I didn't own a Japanese tree peony at all, so I was pretty excited just to get one, no matter what color it was. It was called 'Sahohime' which mean 'Princess Saho' in Japanese. I bought it, took it home, and planted it in my Japanese Garden.
While peonies can live 50-100 years and are very hardy souls, transplanting in the fall is preferable to spring. And you likely won't get any blooms the first year after planting. It just takes awhile for them to adjust. But Japanese Tree Peonies are a little different, in that they many times do bloom the first year. They have woody stems, unlike garden peonies, and they don't die back during winter, so you shouldn't prune them unless you want to control growth or change the form. I made sure to plant the 'knot' a couple of inches below soil level (because I live in a relatively cold climate) and mulched really well up around it that first winter.
Despite the TLC I gave it, I didn't get any blooms the following summer. Lovely lush foliage, but no blooms. Mom's 'Shima-nishiki' bloomed though. Figures.
This year is different. I came home from work last night and The Princess had flowered for the first time for me. Three blooms now with the promise of two more. The petals remind me of Oriental Poppies, in a way, with that tissue paper look to them. The pale pink color coupled with the multiple layers of petals and having been just kissed by a spring shower elicited oohs and aahs from me, one after another.
I now present to you, 'Sahohime'. . .
... and taken about 1:00 this afternoon, fully opened ...
I wish you could smell it, too. This is really just about as close to floral perfection as it gets!
EDIT: A picture of my mom's 'Shima-nishiki' tree peony is here.
Thursday, May 10, 2007