Monday, June 1, 2015

Elegant and Eccentric

'Buckeye Belle'
The peony show is nearly over for this year, but due to sold out crowds, I have booked it for another showing next May.  In the meantime, I'd like to present Her Royal Highness, deep burgundy 'Buckeye Belle', and her two playful courtesans 'Bric a Brac' and 'Pink Spritzer', for your attention and pleasure.


'Buckeye Belle' is still rapidly expanding for me, and I don't feel she is anywhere near her full potential, but I'm completely obsessed by the rich color of those blooms.  An old peony, introduced in 1956,  I previously noted that she found new life as the 2011 Peony of the Year and 2010 Gold Medal Winner.  She put forth a total of 5 of those big sumptuous blossoms for me this year, a modest number, but the total display she put on is out of proportion to her floriferousness.

Sultry, seductive, bold, majestic, and opulent are all words that I would use to describe her.   Everyone who sees her wants to know who she is and where to buy a piece of her.  Honestly, look at that color.  The closeup to the left is true to the real color of the petals.  Doesn't it evoke a deep, full chord inside you, just begging you to sing of royalty and richness?

'Bric a Brac'
Her two weird distant Paeonia lactiflora cousins, 'Bric a Brac' at the left, and 'Pink Spritzer', below right, evoke a totally different set of adjectives.  Strange, oddball, kooky, peculiar, and even "eerie" come to mind.  Both peonies are both daughters of famous hybridizer Roy Klehm, 'Pink Spritzer' in 1999, and I couldn't find the birthdate of 'Bric a Brac'.  Whoever chose names for Klehm's peonies was inventive; 'Brac a Brac' referring to collections of curios, and 'Pink Spritzer' referring to the German spritzen, to "spatter, sprinkle, or spray."  I bought both peonies after seeing slides of them at a Roy Klehm lecture, because of my love of striped plants.  Neither are very vigorous peonies, in fact I worry about their health each spring, but they are certainly conversation starters.

'Pink Spritzer'
'Bric a Brac', particularly, requires a certain aesthetic set to appreciate.  A poster named "tehegemon" on wrote, "I definitely think Bric A Brac has its place, although as I previously mentioned, not in my garden."  The website "" states "There has never been such a frazzled, fringed, ferociously twisted Peony as Bric a Brac!"  I admire the alliteration, but I don't agree with the sentiment.  That creamy background, maroon-striped, green-tinged petals and contrasting bright yellow stigmas and styles just does something for me.  I don't know what, but it does something.

Writing about striped peonies is a dangerous activity for my garden and pocketbook.  In my search for information about these peonies, I found Klehm has another striped one, 'Circus Circus', for sale.  That one just made an order list for fall.  I'm weak, yes, but I'm at least I'm predictable.

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