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Paeonia obovata - woodland peony


The woodland peony is an elvish woodland plant that has quite different attractions than the familiar garden peonies: the foliage consisting of rounded ovate leaflets are arranged in graceful whorls and above them the cup-shaped flowers are flaming either in white or rosy pink, depending of provenance.

The autumn brings another display of yellow autumn colour in the leaves and the showy opening of the seed pods. The pods are bright red from the inside, as are undeveloped seeds, while mature seeds are black and shiny. Later in the autumn the stems collapse to the ground. If the seeds are not gathered or the ground turned, the seeds easily germinate at a stem’s distance from the parent.

The woodland peonies do not develop into wide verdant bushes but their stems grow singly and stout, needing no support. Peonies are generally grown in a sunny location, but the woodland peony which originates in forests may be planted in a shadier site than other peonies. The woodland peony grows in two different locations in the Mustila Arboretum: The peonies at the west end of the Etelärinne (Southern slope) originate from the Sakhalin island, and those at the edge of Alppiruusulaakso (Rhododendron valley) from Manchuria. The first group blossoms significantly earlier due to the different climate of the two provenances


Paeonia anomala - anomala peony


The Finnish name of this peony refers to the Kola peninsula where it grows as a rarity. The first documented collection expeditions to the peninsula were made at the end of the 1800s by A.O. Kihlman (Kairamo) and J. Montell, who also brought seeds to Finland. The anomala peony was then divided from one garden to another, and plants were also reproduced at some nurseries. As a result, the anomala peony grows as a rarity in old gardens throughout the country. At the end of the 1900s, interest towards this spectacular and hardy natural perennial was reawakened in Finland. In other Western countries it is extremely rare.

The wild habitat of the anomala peony is immense, stretching from the Kola peninsula far into Siberia, and the Altai mountains in the south. From there, the gardening teacher Seija Lehtinen brought the seeds, canoeing on the Katun river back to civilization, and the Mustila Arboretum. The Altaic anomala peony is identical with our traitional perennial but the leaves and flowers open even earlier in spring due to the continental climate of its origin.

The anomala peony tolerates dividing, but does not require it. If it may grow undisturbed at the same spot it becomes showy and wide. The single, red, slightly nodding flowers open in early June. Occasional early hot spells accelerate the growth of the flowers and the show is over much too soon. In the autumn, if the weather permits, the leaves turn into a vivid red autumn colour at the end of the growth season.


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