This Week In My Garden - My Love of Tree Peonies

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I'm not certain exactly when we first "met". I was in my early 20's, fresh out of college, and living in the suburbs. I worked in advertising at a local newspaper and I was able to walk through the neighborhood on my lunch hour. One spring day, I stopped, dead in my tracks, on the side walk, in front of a house that while I'd passed it dozens of times, I'd never noticed.  It wasn't the house that caused me to create what would have equated to a "gaper's delay" on the sidewalk that day;  it was a plant that I soon found out would steal my heart: Paeonia suffruticosa, "tree peony".

The garden of my friend and neighbor, Pat.
 It still happens every spring. But sometimes, now, it's in front of my house. I have a few these beauties and I've given them to garden friends as gifts. They aren't plentiful but they do grow in northern Illinois, in protected locations with 3-4 hours of sunlight and well drained soil.

They come in wonderful colors and you can find them at better nurseries and garden centers in the early spring. These are not the same as "regular peonies". Don't ever prune them or cut them down. Treat them like a woody shrub and they'll change garden forever.