I've been on dedicated plant watch the past couple of weeks. With the temperatures rising here in the Hudson River Valley, my garden has just started to emerge from its winter rest. This past winter may not have had the arctic blasts and epic snow storms of the previous two years, but it was still long and dark like a typical northeast winter. So it's always with giddy anticipation that I obsessively check in on the garden in the early spring for the first signs of green!
The Woodland Peony has been one of the first plants to push through the garden with its rosy, brownish-green leaves. I mistakenly planted it last year near the hose bib, watched it bud up and then quickly get trampled by my two littles who have a frenetic passion for all things water. After I got over my sudden loss, I relocated the bare roots last fall under our old Crabapple tree at the front of the house. Unlike the more common peonies that thrive in full sun, the Woodland Peony is a nice, compact selection for the woodland shade garden. These peonies naturalize in deciduous woodlands where they can get early spring sun and summer shade. I'm hoping that our Crabapple's canopy will provide just the right amount of filtered sunlight.
The Woodland Peony, as with all peonies, is also reliably deer resistant, which always makes for attractive plant in my eyes. We live on a little under two-and-a-half acres of land surrounded by properties that find themselves somewhere between meadow, woodland and marsh. Needless to say, the deer are king here and our gardens suffer. I'm pretty positive they hide out in our meadow waiting to devour anything and everything the minute we step inside the house.
My peonies were a gift, but came from Peony's Envy, a nursery located in Bernardsville, New Jersey. Their website is a great resource for all things peony. I'm hoping one day to make it out to their nursery, otherwise known as "peony heaven," and walk among their eight acres of tree, herbaceous and intersectional peonies.
Stay tuned for this beauty in bloom. Fingers crossed they don't meet the same fate they did last year!
Type - Herbaceous Perennial
Hardiness Zone - 3-8
Height - 1.0 - 1.5'
Spread - 1.0 - 1.5'
Exposure - Part shade
Bloom Color - White single flower with yellow stamens
Bloom Time - Mid-late April
Flower - Fragrant
Features - Scarlet and indigo seed pods, Deer resistance
**For more information on Paeonia japonica see the Missouri Botanical Garden's Plant Finder.