MR. HUNTINGTON'S GARDEN | Peonies in Bloom

Posted on Wed., April 13, 2011 by James Folsom
Peonies in the Chinese garden

Another post in a series about Mr. Huntington's Garden by the botanical director of The Huntington.

In the event they never bloom so beautifully again, it is worth posting a photo of a very nice clump of herbaceous peonies that exploded in bloom this week in Liu Fang Yuan. And perhaps with a few words of encouragement, any readers who plan to visit the Gardens in the next day or so should make a journey to the Plantain Court (the main courtyard) in the Chinese garden for the simple pleasure of viewing this minor spectacle.

So what is it about peonies? Why are people so fond of them? It's not the fragrance, for sure. And it is not the foliage, which has little play in the landscape. It's just those massive, overblown crepe paper flowers in luscious colors that steal the show. And how perfect to have flowering peonies in this garden since they are flowers of such legend in China.

Setting around the courtyard also are some pots of tree peonies with buds that are beginning to open, but this natural bouquet of semi-double pink flowers steals the moment. Granted, what you will encounter is a pittance compared to the wealth of flowering people enjoy in cooler climates.

For a gardener, peonies alone could justify moving to the Midwest. But this is a decent showing, and encourages us to plant more here in San Marino, staving off the desire to head for Peoria.

Jim Folsom is the Telleen/Jorgensen Director of the Botanical Gardens at The Huntington.