Plants: Paeonia emodii – Himalayan Peony

November 3, 2010

I can’t beleive it has been ten years since I made a career change to become a landscape designer.  I pulled out this book from my library this morning becasue I haven’t looked at it in years.  Odd, since when I lived, worked and studied in England, it was my bible, I couldn’t have got through school without it and it informed my plants choices regularly.  But now, I seem to rely on nursery catalogs and my memory, for my plant choices and I always feel like that is limiting and perhaps even a little irresponsible.  As a designer and garden writer I feel like I should be helping to push the industry forward and inspiring people to new levels and if I am not doing that, I feel like I am not being the best I can be….

RHS Garden Plants Christoper Brickell

There are only a few nurseries that I have come across in my travels that have truly inspired me.  One of them is a place called Coblands which I first visited while in design school.  They have all the expected plants that nursery goers in their region would expect, but they also have something else.  It was a special section, that only could be accessed by designers and it was called ‘designer plants’.  It is full of the one off’s, uniques, surprises, challenges, and the relatively undiscovered of the plant word.  Perfect for helping a designer bring something really special to a project.   I miss that place, and I miss this book — for the same reasons…my palette is a little dull lately.  Dull uninspired-ness is an easy rut to fall into…one I expect many gardeners and designers do.  My resolve: I am going to start re-visiting the book and digging up some special things to try and perhaps inspire you to try.

Here is what I came up with today — literally by letting the book fall open to wherever it wanted to…

paeonia emodi himalayan peony

image from Kalle-k

Paeonia Emodi – Himalayan Peony

Here is a description from Pacific Bulb Society website:

Paeonia emodi is named after the latin for Himalaya, Emodi Montes, whose western range is its home. Very early blooming, the foliage is often damaged by frosts in my Zone 8 garden. It forms a large (90-100cm), lush plant of shiny, cut foliage, often tinged in red. Flowers are crisp white and appear from the axis as well as terminally. The Highdown clone, raised at the Royal Botanical Gardens Edinburgh, Scotland is a very fine form with heavy floral substance. Recently, seedlings and collected material from China have appeared on the market. My plant is markedly red in foliage and the flowers less waxy, but tends to be more floriferous than the Highdown plant. It is, also, at least two weeks earlier in bloom. It should be noted that P. sterniana is similar, differing in bearing single flowers with 3-4 carpels.

paeonia emodi
image form Gardens and Plants

Why grow this over the many other choices in peonies? — Simply, it is more delicate than most other single peonies and it is reportedly one of the tallest standard peony varieties and P. emodi’s pure white flowers can also reportedly measure up to 7 inches across.

If you are in the UK — you can buy it through Rare Plants or Pioneer Nurseries.

If you are in the US you might be able to buy it from Seneca Hills Perennials (though it appears this place is soon to be closing out completely)– but they are offering their stock to other growers for further propagation– I am struggling to find it elsewhere.

It is also the one of the parent species of White Innocence a popular hybrid.– so I am not sure why it is not more readily available….if you know a source, please share in the comments.
Do you grow this?  Please share your experiences!!

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  1. Shellene says:

    I can rember dragging that hudge book around with me to clients home, it weigh a ton! Thank goodness for Plantmaster!

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