Catching Up with the Baby Tree Peonies

It’s been more than a year since I last reported on my seed-grown baby tree peonies that made their surprise appearance in May 2017 …. shame on me, and I am appropriately red-faced! My “helicopter Peony Mom” post was uploaded a month later, and followed up with a mini-drama during the ensuing winter (February 2018.) So its clearly time for an update.

I do have some sad news, though: Only these four babes managed to make it all the way through that winter, their three less-robust siblings having given up the ghost whilst still in the relative protection of the unheated garage. In late May I gave them a temporary in bag/in ground home in soil because the garage was slated to become a temporary remodeling/construction zone during the upcoming months and I wanted them well out of harm’s way. Their big sister ‘Kamata Fuji’ was planted in a (supposedly) permanent location in the front yard.

The baby tree peonies in their temporary home in October 2018. A stash of wrought iron hose guides came in handy as makeshift guard rails to protect the babes against the depredations of the lawn cutting service’s riding mowers and inattentive drivers. As you can see, we are now down to only three – I had qualms about the fourth one ever since May but adopted a Darwinian approach.


The following spring (April 2019) all three were putting up delicate bronzy new growth! But with yet more work needed to so many garden areas, I needed to decide ASAP where the three of them should go for their “forever home”!


After much thought I opted for the recently-cleared out west facing side of the sunroom, which is one of the slightly-raised beds with better soil than in my difficult heavy grade-level clay. After a little amending with compost and Azomite, in they went. Normally I would not have put them in such a blazing full sun location but it happens that the adjacent ‘Kwanzan’ flowering cherry gives this spot some welcome relief from the worst effects of the afternoon sun by providing some shifting dappled shade. (The peonies are not as close to the house as they appear from this camera angle.)

Now of course the time had come to give the seedlings a name, since they’d graduated from their grow-bag “cribs” to a real bed with room to stretch out and play. It was an easy choice, really, because there are three of them and they’d all managed to come through some adversities together, just like the Three Musketeers. So let’s meet them individually!

Here’s Athos, whose position is on the left when looking at the planting. Like his namesake who was the noble aristocratic Musketeer, he wears a tasteful array of foliage.


Porthos is the largest, beefiest one – just like in the novels and movie adaptations! He’s in the center, as befits the big guy with the imposing physique.


And lastly Aramis whose slender, almost ascetic, profile is right in keeping with the Dumas character who was once a member of a religious order before going in for the swashbuckling life.

It will be interesting to see how these now-almost-teenage tree peonies prosper after their first full year in the wide, wonderful world of the garden!

  5 comments for “Catching Up with the Baby Tree Peonies

  1. June 24, 2019 at 3:57 am

    Well done to you and your intrepid three. You are on the home run now, only another four or five years and you will be rewarded with flowers.

  2. June 24, 2019 at 11:30 pm

    Did they succumb to the cold weather or something else while in the garage?! I do not grow the other peonies because our climate lacks sufficient chill. In other words, it does not get cold enough for them. Some people grow them, but they do not do well for many of us.

    • June 25, 2019 at 8:48 am

      There was at least once instance (that I know of) when the soil in their grow-bags froze solid while in the garage that winter. I honestly didn’t realize that the garage ever got that cold but obviously it did. At the time there was a window in one of the garage walls, and when the interior of the garage was redone earlier this year (eliminating the window, among other things) it was found that a section of that same outer wall had gaps in the fiberglass batt insulation. I suspect that the tree peony seedlings that had less well developed root systems were probably fatally weakened by the frozen soil incident(s) whereas the three largest/strongest ones were able to withstand that stress.

      • June 27, 2019 at 2:30 am

        Oh my; that is a good reason to stay in California.

  3. June 28, 2019 at 6:51 am

    Fabulous! And wonderful names 🙂

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