Tag Archive: peony

PicPost: Just Wait

Peony flower bud by Ellen Zillin

Peony flower bud by Ellen Zillin

Peony- picture byEllen Zillin

Peony- picture by Ellen Zillin

WP_20150604_14_12_41_ProYesterday’s session at Blickling was spent planting 6 million Penstemons ( I exaggerate)…

Chance would have it that the day I was to spend on my knees in the Long Borders, was the first day I’d wear shorts! Having finished off raking the bare soil, my fellow volunteers and I set to work planting out a large number of over wintered plants, which were brought over from the Walled Garden for us. The system worked well- a couple of helpers bringing plants to the three of us digging holes and planting; fairly close together, as the soil isn’t wonderful here and the plants, apparently, don’t seem to get very large.

Four hours later (and after a mild panic when we thought we’d run out of plants), the job was done. Apart from the sore knees, it was lovely planting out in the sun and with the fragrance of nearby Wisteria and Honeysuckle filling the air. It will be good to see how these mixed plants (some of the pots had been amusingly labelled ‘unkown’), progress in the next couple of months.

I also took a look at the Peony borders I featured a few weeks ago. Surprisingly, they haven’t yet fully opened, but there were a few blooms to give us a taste of what will come- hopefully soon, if the weather warms up a bit.

Over lunch Mike, the Walled Garden Project Manager, showed me a lovely ‘artist’s impression’ of the Walled Garden;  a wonderful vision of how it will look in a few years time and something to spur those involved in pressing on with the regeneration project. I’ll see if I can share this picture with you at some point.

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Further Information:

Blickling Hall website

Blickling Hall Facebook page

A 360 degree tour of Blickling Hall

Old School Gardener


Hyacinths looking good at Blickling

Hyacinths looking good at Blickling

A couple of weeks on from my last stint at Blickling, I joined the other volunteers last week, on a bright sunny day. So warm, in fact, it was the first day in a garden without the need of a fleece, and also my first bit of hoeing too.

We began by tidying up the Peony borders. I hadn’t noticed these before, but they are long and devoted entirely to Peonies, which today had just started their journey upwards, making short red stems with the beginnings of the beautiful leaves that complement the flowers so well. ‘They’re just like Asparagus’ one volunteer remarked, and they do have a resemblance to the spear-like stems that thrust upwards, albeit a bit later on, here in Norfolk.

Anyway, an hour passed and then I was called over to the Walled Garden with fellow volunteer Peter, to do a bit of construction work. Project Manager Mike had gathered some Hazel sticks and asked if we would put together a supporting wall for some runner beans and a couple of ‘Wigwams’ (or should it be ‘Teepees’?) for Sweet Peas. It was really pleasant in the sunshine doing something a little more fiddly for once – it reminded me of how much I enjoy pruning and tying in! Well, that little task, together with a bit more hoeing and earth turning in the walled garden took us to the middle of the afternoon, at which point I needed to leave to pay a visit to the local Nursery- where I bumped into Peter and his wife once more!

I’ve been holding £55 worth of Garden Centre vouchers for a while now (most given to me by my children as a Father’s Day gift last year, the balance as  a prize I won recently for giving feedback on the Norfolk Master Composter Scheme). I’ve thought about getting an Acer to put in the new Wildlife Pond area at Old School Garden and the Nursery in Aylsham has a good selection; I managed to wrestle a 2 metre example into the back of the (open top) car. I’m not sure which variety it is, but it’s young leaf buds are just bursting into a bright cerise followed by paler pink and lemony green leaves. I’ve also wanted to get hold of a Ceanothus ‘Puget’s Blue’ for some time (in the shopping trolley it goes), and they also had some lovely Magnolias in bloom, so I didn’t resist the temptation to take home a lovely example of M. x loebneri ‘Merrill’.

These three specimens plus another, smaller Acer (palmatum), a black Elder and Camellia, already in pots at home, will form the back bone of the planting scheme around the pond. I’ll tell and show you more in due course…..

 Further Information:

Blickling Hall website

Blickling Hall Facebook page

A 360 degree tour of Blickling Hall

Old School Gardener


The Yellow Tree Peony (Paeonia lutea)

The Yellow Tree Peony (Paeonia lutea)

Paeonia or Peony to give this genus it’s common name,  is native to Asia, Southern Europe and Western North America. Boundaries between species are not clear and estimates of the number of species range from 25 to 40. Peonies are the only genus in the family Paeoniaceae.


Paeonia 'Itoh'

Paeonia ‘Itoh’

Peonies can be classified by both plant growth habit and flower type. Plant growth types are Herbaceous (nonwoody), Tree (shrub), and Itoh (or “Intersectional”), which is intermediate between herbaceous and tree forms. In winter herbaceous peonies die back to their underground parts, whereas tree peonies lose their leaves but retain viable woody stems above ground. The Itoh hybrids are intermediate between herbaceous and tree forms. They are named after Toichi Itoh, who first produced a successful intersectional hybrid in 1948. The herb Peony (particularly the root of P. lactiflora) has been used frequently in traditional medicines of Korea, China and Japan.

Paeonia 'Rozella'

Paeonia ‘Rozella’

Paeonia 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Paeonia ‘Sarah Bernhardt’

The name Paeonia derives form the ancient greek physician, Paeon, a student of Asclepius, the Greek god of  medicine and healing. Asclepius became jealous of his pupil so Zeus saved Paeon from the wrath of Asclepius by turning him into the Peony flower. Another explanation is that Paeon was the first to use the plant medicinally.

Other garden Paeony names are:

P. albiflora = white – flowered

P. corallina = the colour of coral

P. lutea = yellow

P. moutan = a japanese name derived from Meu-tang, the King of Flowers in chinese myhthology- the ‘Tree Peony’

P. officinalis = of the shop (i.e. was orignally sold in an apothecary/herbal), still found growing wild in Europe. The European or Common Peony. The variety Rubra is the double red peony of cottage gardens


Paeonia officinalis

Paeonia officinalis

Sources and further information:


RHS- cultivating Peonies

Telegraph – how to grow Peonies

Passion for Peonies blogspot


answers to the two clues given in Plantax 8…

  • Irish singer is growing worse – vanilla
  • Tease Mr Disney – ragwort

..and 2 more cryptic clues to the names of plants, fruit or veg…

  • Substandard animal limb
  • West Indies batsman + Food superstore

(thanks to Les Palmer, answers in the next Plantax!)

Old School Gardener

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