Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Double Fernleaf Peony: A most unusual paeonia

A hedge row of Double Fernleaf peonies at Fina Gardens Nursery

Rubra Flore Plena Tenuifolia (meaning red, double-flowered fernleaf) is the big name for one of the smaller—but most fascinating—peonies that can be found in gardens throughout the world. It makes our Top 10 List because of its finely-dissected, soft foliage set off by bright crimson blooms that open very early among all the peony cultivars. In fact the delicate leaves and tiny buds often can be seen emerging through the last of the winter snow.
Rubra Flore Plena is just one of the cultivars derived from the species tenuifolia, which still can be found in the wild on the steppes of Crimea, the Ukraine and the Caucasus. Other varieties feature single form flowers in red, pink and white. All are short in stature, ranging from about 1 foot in height up to about 20 inches, depending on where its growing. They are super hardy. Here in Northwest Wisconsin, the fernleafs have no problems with winters that can dip to minus 50 degrees F. Another feature they have in common is their tendency to go dormant in the heat of summer. The foliage then turns brown and can be removed at that time. Savvy gardeners often plant their fernleafs behind late emerging perennials or annuals to conceal the bare spot. They also know to cut back on watering these plants at this stage, because it can lead to root rot. Tenuifolia also have a very different root structure than other peonies, making them more difficult to propagate. That's why root divisions often are smaller in size and may have fewer eyes or buds, but command a higher price than many other more common varieties.

The blooms are small—about 2-3 inches across—and come one per stem. But the waxy quality of the petals make the brilliant red flowers shine in the sunlight, drawing the attention of any who wander through the garden. It's one of the reasons Rubra Flore Plena Tenuifolia is our best selling peony.
Do you grow this peony? If so, please share your experiences.
For more information or to obtain a red double fernleaf peony go to finagardenspeonies.com

Friday, March 3, 2017

Roselette: The Ice Queen

Gorgeous delicate blossoms belie the tough-as-nails hardiness when it comes to spring freezes
Roselette makes the list of my Top Ten peonies in part because of the ability of its buds to weather
spring freezes without damage, despite the fact that it is among the earliest peonies to bloom. In fact, it's nearly always our first tall bush variety to open in May up here in Northwest Wisconsin. 

In these times of fickle weather, we seem to be getting more late spring freezes that can cause peony buds to fail to open--a condition commonly referred to as bud blast. But we've never seen this on Roselette, which seems to have anti-freeze coursing through the xylem in its stems. Bud blast can also be caused by other factors--most commonly by botrytis or grey mold--but here, too, Roselette seems to possess greater immunity than many other peonies. Some of this toughness may be related to its breeding. Roselette is a triple hybrid that came out of the work of one of the world's most renowned peony hybridizers, A. P. Saunders. Its lineage includes the Albiflora, Mlokosewitschi and Tenufolia species peonies.

But Roselette has much more going for it than hardiness. The soft salmon-pink cupped blooms atop 34 to 36-inch stems provide an elegant accent to the beautiful green green foliage, which remains attractive throughout the growing season. Combined with sturdy stems, these factors earned it a place among the varieties given the Award of Landscape Merit by the American Peony Society.

Roselette has it all: hardiness, beautiful blooms and great garden presence.

For more information on Roselette or to buy a root division go to finagardenspeonies.com