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Paeonia japonica

Paeonia japonica

Common name peony
Family paeoniaceae
Life cycle perennial (Z5-8)
Flowers white (mid spring)
Size 12-18"
Light part shade
Cultural notes rich soil, not too dry

Herbaceous species peony, native to woodlands in northern Japan. It grows smaller than typical garden peonies, with three-inch single fragrant blooms (white petals, yellow stamens). The gray-green and divided foliage stays attractive throughout the season. The seed pods that develop after flowering split open in late summer to show their blue seeds.
In its first year to bloom in our garden, I completely missed the single flower, finding only its aftermath. I thought that was a fluke, but the next year, when two flowers appeared, I hardly fared better. The photo at right, before the flowers fully opened, was taken on May 12th; the aftermath photo at right on May 15th. I never did see the flowers fully open, and I guess they will be forever short-lived. The next year I finally was vigilant enough to see the flowers in their full glory – see the photo at top.

Paeonia japonica
Two weeks after petal drop, the developing seedpods resemble a jester's hat
Paeonia japonica
A close-up view of the boss of stamens reveals the origins of the burgundy and yellow bits that give the flower such a striking color composition
Just two days later, a different appearance

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