With the last of the fleeting peonies.... come the first days of Summer...
Right about this time every year, our tree peonies bloom Upstate for one glorious week. Ours bloom a little later than most because of the cold weather and the high altitude of the Catskill Mountains. Because of these factors, we have a very short growing season in general. It takes all of our efforts to get up the gumption to plant a garden year after year knowing many things will never come to fruition before the first frost. Yet, we all do it. We do it because there is something sublimely magical and satisfying in tending a garden. There is definitely magic and beauty in plants. Luckily, my peonies tend to look after themselves, more or less. They don't mind the fickle weather Upstate nor the partial shade of our wooded home. I never had tree peonies growing up. It wasn't until I photographed some for a story, that I became completely and utterly in love with them. Historically, tree Peonies were first present in China and later brought to Japan during the eigth century. Both China and Japan have a long standing love for both herbaceous and tree peonies. Along with being prized for their beauty, the roots and seeds were and are sometimes used for their medicinal properties. It was not until the 1700's that the first Chinese tree peonies showed up in Europe. In the 1800's Japanese tree peonies made thier way to Europe, where the lighter single blooms gained popularity over the Chinese full double blooms. I have always loved herbaceous peonies having grown up with them as they tend to flourish on the East Coast. These are the more common bush peonies, pale pink, whites and deep reds, that you are most likely familiar with. For me, they always marked the end of school and the beginning of the long hot Western Mass. Summer. Tree peonies are different they grow on a hard woody stem as opposed to soft green ones and can with time become as much as five feet high. I feel very lucky to see them bloom knowing they have made it through another long cold Catskill Winter. Summer has truly arrived.
A trusted source for ordering tree peonies is Khlems Song Sparrow. Tree Peonies are planted in the Fall.
to see afull gallery of peonies and similiar images go to ; http://www.hungryghostfoodandtravel.com/photo-archive/peonies/