Another mystery of my garden was revealed last night when a volunteer peony seedling (sapling? stalk? plant?) opened for the first time. Until I first noticed this little gem in 2012, growing where it shouldn't be, I was unaware that some peonies would self-seed if they weren't deadheaded. There were 6 or 8 ancient peonies near the orchard where I was raised, and I never noticed any distant seedlings, but perhaps that was because we mowed around each peony and never gave them a chance. In contrast, my cypress-mulched and partially shaded front garden must be perfect for peony babies, because I've now got three small new peonies where none was planted.
My natural approach of live-and-let-live for self-seeding plants paid off perfectly this time. This little girl is presumably a self-cross of 'Kansas' or 'Inspector Lavergne', or a cross of the two, since there are several of each in the bed. Regardless of the parentage, I'm pleased at the almost bright-red coloration, the prominent yellow stamens, and the semi-double form, and I think I'll keep this one around under an appropriate study name such as 'Roush's Red'. The blue foliage at the top of the picture, if you're wondering, is a blue-green sedum, 'Strawberries and Cream'.
If you recognize the foliage of a volunteer plant, and it isn't a weed, don't pull it up. You just never know the gifts you've been given until you, in turn, give them a chance to shine.