by Ray Allen
Have you seen them? We have an expanded selection of "Tree peonies" in this year's perennial sale, now on the site. As lovely as regular peonies are, these really make them ordinary. I've personally grown tree peonies, and I remember how exciting it was to see them bloom the first spring. They are really like no other plant in the garden. Unlike their sprawling cousins, they are simply well-shaped little "trees" that look elegant and unimportant until the flowers begin. And then it's like floral fireworks. They open flowers so large, so beautiful, so gaudy--they don't seem real. (In fact, when friends would see mine, they'd often ask, "Are they real?" As most gardeners know, these plants have been cultivated in China and Japan for centuries, and they are garden treasures anywhere. Only in recent years have American gardeners enjoyed them, and the delay was for one big reason--their rarity, thus their cost. But over the last few years, America's best nurseries have begun offering them, and American gardeners have given them the places they deserve in their gardens. Take a look at all the ones we have this year, and I'm anxious to describe how they'll arrive if you decide to grow one. I've personally seen the plants as they come out of the shipping cartons from China. Each one is bareroot, a fully branched plant with leaves in full bud. They are about 2 ft. tall, and are already shaped like little trees. The stems are tough and about 3/4" thick. Once I saw how vigorous and healthy these plants looked upon arrival, that's when I decided to add them to our offerings. If you invest in them, remember they're guaranteed, and I'd appreciate knowing how they do for you. I couldn't be more enthusiastic about them.