Tuesday, 31 May 2011

There's a buzz about Paeonia lactiflora

The Trailfinders/Fleming Nurseries Australian Garden, designed by Ian Barker, won a Silver Gilt  at Chelsea. It was inspired by the journey made by Captain Cook and Sir Joseph Banks on the Endeavour as they mapped the Southern hemisphere (1768-1771), and featured plants found by Banks on the journey.

One of the most interesting discoveries, for us, were the bee friendly flowers of Paeonia lactiflora Krinkled White, which had bumblebees flying in and out of them almost continuously.

Paeonia lactiflora is also known as the Chinese Peony and is a herbaceous perennial in the family Paeoniaceae. It is native to central and eastern Asia, from eastern Tibet across northern China to eastern Siberia.

We've never considered peonies before, as many of them are double flowered (which isn't very useful to bees as it prevents them getting at any pollen). 

There are lots of varieties of peony, in a wide variety of colours, but the original, simple white peony plants (similar to these) have single flowers and many stamens, so bees have a lot to feed on.
Happy in shade or full sun, with a height and spread of around 80cm

Fully hardy - they will flower from June to July

Another, even larger, white peony found in the Great Pavilion

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