species peonies
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Paeonia peregrina in late May
Cady’s Falls Nursery
Don & Lela Avery
637 Duhamel Rd.  Morrisville, Vt. 05661
802-888-5559    [email protected]
    One of the greatest pleasures of early spring is the emergence of the early species peonies. They often thrust up their shoots before the last winter snow has disappeared and bravely endure crushing, wet, spring snow and hard late frosts. The shoots emerge in shades of red and pink, transferring the color into the stems as the leaves unfold. After the symphony of their emergence, the early peonies put on a spectacular show of bloom in mid-May, well in advance of the popular hybrid varieties. Some of the early species also put on a show in September with their shiny, plump, black seeds, surrounded by bright red, sterile embryos.
    The species peonies are available for sale, year-by-year, on a limited basis. It takes 4-5 years to grow them from seed to flower and seed production and germination are often patchy.
Paeonia mlokosewitschii in late April
Paeonia mlokosewitschii, Molly, in late May
Paeonia obovata var. japonica in mid- May
Paeonia tenuifolia ‘Flora Plena’ in full  bloom late May
Paeonia mlokosewitschii emerging mid April
Paeonia mlokosewitschii flower buds swelling
Paeonia obovata var. japonica seed pods bursting in Sept and Oct
Paeonia x smoothii
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Paeonia tenuifolia ‘Flora Plena’. The double fern-leaf peony pushes fully developed flower buds out of the ground first, followed by already unfurling ferny leaves.
Species hybrid  Paeonia ‘Early Bird’ in late May
Paeonia perigrina emerging in April
Paeonia suffruticosa rockii, pink form, in late May. The legendary tree peony discovered by Joseph Rock in southern China in 1925
Paeonia ‘Fernwood Picotee,’ a one-of-a-kind seedling from Rick Sawyer at Fernwood Nursery
Paeonia vietchii var. woodwardi late May
Paeonia humilis in late May
Paeonia obovata  var. willmottiae in late May
    Paeonia mlokosewitschii is native to the Caucasus, the much fought-over strip of land between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea.  It is often fondly referred to as “Molly the Witch.” Our 20 year old garden specimen is an especially  nice form, with glaucus, early season foliage and soft yellow flowers with dense yellow stigmas. This is the plant  featured on this web-page. Unlike the common hybrid peonies, Molly, and most other species peonies, are not readily propagated by division and must be grown from seed. Wild-collected seed  from the native region is most reliable  but is rarely available. Since numerous other species peonies flower simultaneously with Molly, garden gown seed, being subject to the whim of the bees, often produces a mix of hybrid plants. Unfortunately our old Molly is nearly 100% sterile but the batch of wild collected seedlings we obtained a few years ago are just beginning to produce seed. In recent years, we have been fortunate to have a kind friend whose isolated Mollies produce a high percentage of yellow-flowered offspring. It is too early to know how closely these four year seedlings will resemble our  old stock plants but these are the plants we have for sale this year.
Paeonia mlokosewitschii  and P smoothii in late May
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