“Heritage Peony -Edulis Superba, 1824”

“Heritage Peony -Edulis Superba, 1824”

“The long roots of the peony strike deep into the past.”
– Alice Coats

Today I’m sharing a peony that I have many of and I don’t believe this is the first blossom either. Several blossoms opened a few days ago, so it’s hard to know. The plant itself came from abandoned (expropriated) farm near my home. The family who used to live there (Spangs) were close friends with my wife’s family and are distant relations.

The land was expropriated (taken by the government) back in the nineteen seventies, with plans to build an international airport. Those plans never materialized and many families were displaced for nothing. Over time, houses and farm building were rented out or simply abandoned to rot. Many of these farms also had beautiful gardens at one point, now overgrown with grasses and thick shrubbery. I noticed the bright pinks of these peonies from the road, as I drove by and asked permission to dig them up. Permission was granted and I proceeded to recover some twenty plants, some of which went to my gardens and others were given to friends, as well as planted in the gardens at my kids’ school.

I have no idea how old the plants are, but peonies can live for close to a century and these have roots the size of yams. I have a touch with peonies and most plants bloomed the next year. These are also prolific bloomers, with each stem producing up to three flowers (you can see two more buds in the photo), making for a terrific display.

As I enjoy them, so do others and I’m often asked about them. It’s nice to be able to tell this story, give a bit of local history, and simply enjoy the lasting beauty of these deep pink blossoms, as they fill the air with their rich fragrance.

This richly fragrant, deep pink relic is one of the oldest peonies of all, and yet, writes expert Martin Page, it’s “still one of the best.” Introduced in France soon after the first lactiflora peonies arrived from China, it has been cherished ever since  for its “good form, strong color, and delightful fragrance” (Boyd, 1928).

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm
2.0 sec, f/32.0 ISO 100

High Resolution image on 500px

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11 Comments on ““Heritage Peony -Edulis Superba, 1824”

  1. Your image finds tears in my eyes. My Peonies are gone for the year. The beauty of this flower you captured to perfection. Thank you for doing this flower justice! 💓

  2. I have some peonies in my yard that are cuttings of cuttings of cuttings, split and dug and shared through 5 generations of my family and at least as many states. They started in upstate NY in my great-great grandmother’s yard, then shared to her daughter-in-law in the Bronx, then shared to my grandmother’s yard in NJ where they were also shared with a neighbor who later passed some of hers to my mother in Kentucky and from there passed to me and planted in my yard in Indiana. My mother has shared some of hers out to her siblings and their children in other states as well. I’m pretty sure this is the variety, just judging from age and their appearance. They have to be a really old cultivar to go back that far, at least 100 years, just in my family. Mine produced their first blossom this year, 2 summers after planting some tubers I dug out of my mom’s yard. I’m so excited to have this small piece of family history.

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