Some of our favorite tree peonies we grow here at Cricket Hill Garden are hybrids of the wild species Paeonia rockii, also know as Gansu Mudan. This species of tree peony grows predominantly in Northwest China. The area around Lanzhou city in Gansu province is particularly known as a center for the breeding and propagation of P. rockii. We imported our first rockii tree peonies about fifteen years ago and were immediately enchanted. With their finely cut foliage and erect habit (mature specimens reach to well over 6′), P. rockii hybrids make for quite a regal planting. The blossoms are nothing short of spectacular, large and fragrant they are found in a range of colors, all sporting dark magenta flares at the base of each petal.
Snow Lotus is closely related to the wild species P. rockii.
Cup of Shining Night is one of our favorite P. rockii hybrids developed by Chen Dezhong of the Peony Peace Garden in China’s Gansu Province.
Over the years, we have noticed that our tree peonies with P. rockii heritage are much more likely to go into early dormancy during the late summer. With much of the county experiencing very hot and dry weather this summer, we have heard from many customers who have noticed that their P. rockii tree peonies leaves have turned brown and shriveled. This of course happens to all tree peonies as they drop their leaves and go into dormancy. Typically this occurs in early October here in Connecticut, however it seems to happen much earlier to P. rockii tree peonies during drier years. We have also noticed that P. rockii planted in the full sun loose their leaves much earlier than those planted in conditions of dappled or partial sunlight.
Though we have been grown tree peonies for almost a quarter century here at Cricket Hill, we continue to learn so much about these fascinating plants every season. In the future we plan to recommend that customers site their P. rockii tree peonies in locations that do not receive full sun all day. This is particularity true for growers in regions with hot summers were rainfall can be lacking.