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Posts Tagged ‘Paeonia delavayi’

There are colors we all want and have been written and dreamed about in the garden world. The purest, darkest black is always being searched for, pure blues are also being dreamed of in its various forms, even green in flowers create envy from those who long for that.  Some colors are few and always a shock or surprise when seen, Maroon is one such color especially when it is matched with the Peony. Delavay’s Tree Peony(Paeonia delavayi stops you to marvel at the depth and purity of the color maroon.

Delavay's Tree Peony - Paeonia delavayi

Delavay's Tree Peony - Paeonia delavayi

(Father)Père Jean Marie Delavay(1834-1895) was a remarkable man who introduced an incredible number of new plants, the count is at least 1500. the 1500 new plants was from over 200,000 specimens  which he carefully collected and documented. Even more amazing is that he did this all by himself with no help from others to carry his supplies and equipment through the many mountainous areas he travelled.  Jean Marie Delavay was sent by the Foreign Missions of Paris to China in 1867 and was first posted at Hui-chou in Canton. While posted there he collected plant samples  from as far away as Yunnan which were sent back to Great Britain by way of  Henry Fletcher Hance who was an important botanist.

Paeonia delavayi was first described in 1892 from a sample collected by Père Jean Marie Delavay.

Paeonia delavayi was first described in 1892 from a sample collected by Père Jean Marie Delavay.

In 1881 he returned to France and met the Père Armand David who convinced him to send future plant samples to the Museum of Natural History in Paris where Adrien Franchet would classify his collections. Père Delavay returned to China and spent his remaining time primarily in Yunnan where in 1888 he contracted bubonic plague which forced him to return to France in 1891 for treatment.  His final trip to China in 1894 was his last, he died in there on the last day of 1895.

Finnerty Gardens show stopper Paeonia delavayi is profusely blooming right now.

Finnerty Gardens show stopper Paeonia delavayi is profusely blooming right now.

Delavay’s Tree Peony is the most widely distributed of the woody Peony species. Paeonia delavayi is found mainly in north Yunnan into south-west Sichuan and Xizang(Tibet). The first sample was described by Franchet in 1892 from Delavay’s samples and notes. It was reintroduced by Gregor Nikolacvich Potanin in 1904 and was often called Paeonia potanini until the taxonomy of Peony species was sorted out. None the less it was recognized to be a spectacular plant well worth inclusion in gardens.

Not only is the maroon color eye catching, so are the leaves of Delavays Tree Peony.

Not only is the maroon color eye catching, so are the leaves of Delavays Tree Peony.

Paeonia delavayi is a plant which is pleasing in leaf and flower. The leaves emerge with red tints and as they expand take on a more blueish cast. The size of the plant overall is large but because the leaves are deeply cut the overall feeling is delicate. The flowers are up to 10.5cm(4in.) wide and have a deep and intense coloring which standout from the foliage. There are several color forms known, best  is  ‘lutea’ which is yellow, white through coppery peach have been found but are not commonly seen here. I recently stumbled upon several of the yellow (‘Lutea’)  form growing in the back of a condominium complex which I am doing a garden design for, what a treat!

The Yellow form of Paeonia delavayi has a more delicate feeling.

The Yellow form of Paeonia delavayi has a more delicate feeling.

Delavay’s Tree Peony is not difficult to grow if you give it what it needs. It like a rich humus soil which is free draining. They will tolerate chalky soils better than other Peonies.  Paeonia delavayi grows well in full sun to dappled shade, I have seen it bloom in quite shady spots. All Peonies hate to have their roots disturbed so make sure that you want it to stay where you plant it.  It should get a servingn of mulch every spring.

Young plants of Paeonia delavayi are said to have more nodding flowers as their woody stems are not so well developed.

Young plants of Paeonia delavayi are said to have more nodding flowers as their woody stems are not so well developed.

Delavay’s Tree Peony take up a fairly large area, they grow 1.5m(5ft) tal and are a simalar width. They can be planted as specimens or in groups and fit well into a woodland garden. Paeonia delavayi come from open forests and grasslands at high altitudes and can take cold temperature well without damage, the one thing which can do harm is late frosts on their early emerging foliage. They are listed as zone 6(-18c or-5f) through 9.

Paeonia delavayi are easily grown form seed but you need time and patience before seeing you first flowers.

Paeonia delavayi are easily grown form seed but you need time and patience before seeing you first flowers.

Maroon colored notes:

Jean Marie Delavay: http://www.plantexplorers.com/explorers/biographies/french-missionaries/pere-jean-marie-delavay.htm

The Paeonia delavayi complex: http://hua.huh.harvard.edu/china/novon/hong85-4.htm

Seed germination information: http://www.plantexplorers.com/vandusen/product_info.php/products_id/782

Museum of Natural History in Paris: http://www.mnhn.fr/museum/foffice/transverse/transverse/accueil.xsp?cl=en

See you soon at this same place and time….

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