Fancy Plants: A Woodland Tree Peony, 3 little Anemonopsis

and a couple – well ok, three – new clematis from Brushwood Nursery  are this year’s proof that no matter how much I grouse about the proportion of antiques to rare plants at Trade Secrets, it’s still all too easy to find things you didn’t know you needed until you were standing there needing them.

 Paeonia japonica ( which will hide the empty bleeding heart space, come midsummer.)

Paeonia japonica ( which will hide the empty bleeding heart space, come midsummer.)

I blame it all on this woodland peony  from Hillside Nursery. When I bought it four years ago it was nothing but a robust little popkin with about 3 leaves. Each spring it comes up larger and larger, more and more glorious, (in)conveniently blooming abundantly right before T.S., the only retail show Hillside  attends.

So of course more shade loving species peonies have come to live with us and this year it’s P. lutea, a Chinese tree peony that will (if happy) make a small shrub with beautifully cut leaves and – briefly, as usual –  in spring, bronze throated pale yellow flowers.

I seem to be on a kick. The late blooming , lavender-white flowered Anemonopsis macrophylla  I just bought from Opus is also a rather demure item primarily valuable for its beautiful leaves.

But Ed Bowen, Opus’ presiding wizard, doesn’t always snag you with subtlety.

The coral tree,  Erythrina x bidwillii

The coral tree, Erythrina x bidwillii

I got from him 3 years ago as a roughly 2 foot stripling now makes a 4 x 5 foot bush, each branch tipped with those amazing flowers – and covered from stem to stern with vicious, downward hooking thorns.


It’s not hardy; we have to bring it inside.

But unlike the lovely

Melianthus ‘Purple Haze’,

Melianthus ‘Purple Haze’,

another must-have from Ed I must have been out of my mind to buy, the coral tree can winter in the cellar more or less out of sight and mind. The melianthus refuses to go dormant and hogs up precious greenhouse space, looking rattier and rattier, until it goes back out in May to recover its summer glory.


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