OK, travelling around, going on hols, and the rest is great fun.  But one misses things.  A week of warmth in Venice was wonderful, but back in Scotland it had been hot too.  So we missed all the erythroniums.  The hepaticas were finished.  Even the wood anemones were beginning to close down.  And the earliest of all the paeonies to flower was in full fig when it should still have been in bud.

Paeonia veitchii, if you don’t have it, is very nice indeed.  It was discovered in southern China by the famous collector by E. H. Wilson in 1907, when he was there collecting for the even more famous London plant nursery of Messrs Veitch and Son.  That firm, founded in 1808 and flourishing throughout the 19th century had an absolutely huge effect on how British gardens looked, and indeed, still look.

It’s a very tolerant paeony too; it got dumped in a patch of spare border at the base of a tall, west facing wall.  Getting virtually no attention, it increases each year, glossy scarlet buds emerging from the soil even while it can still freeze solid at night.

It does produce seed pods though I’ve not managed, so far, to get any seed to germinate.  A shame; I’d like a whole border of it.

Next paeonies to flower, and which I intend not to miss, are Paeonia tenuiflora, then a most lovely thing whose name escapes me (and the label is fifty miles away), and the the lovely yellow P. mlokosewitschii (often thought of as a subspecies of the easier to pronounce P. daurica).  And then…  well, Paeonia peregrina is pretty special too.

Incidentally, Paeonia Veitchii, and no doubt all the others, are much used in Chinese medicine, for the usual astonishing range of ailments.  Medieval European doctors used the European P. mascula.  All species, so far as I know, are poisonous.



About david stuart

garden writer and journalist, and occasionally a designer, with a garden in the Scottish borders, and his pal's gardens in Edinburgh, London, and Lincolnshire. They keep both of us very, very busy. Books I've written listed on my website, and dozens of articles and garden and plant pictures. Currently working on several new projects. One of these was to return to painting - see the blog - and which is proving exciting! www.david-stuart.co.uk or, more fun, have a look at www.pinterest.com/davidcstuart
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