The Darling Buds of May.

Paeonia ‘Gansu Mudan’

Paeonia ‘Gansu Mudan’

The fabulous Paeonia rockii now has to be called Paeonia ‘Gansu Mudan’ which means tree peony from the Gansu district of China.  For details see my post Paeonia suffruticosa ssp. rockii. The most desirable one is the white one with the maroon blotch. I grew the above two from seed bought from Chilterns and I was quite disappointed  when they turned out to be pink and magenta. But still they are wonderful and this year at nine years old, they have about twenty buds each.  Watching them unfold is a source of utter delight.  Still, I longed for the white one and all my hopes were pinned on my six year old plant which has two buds for the first time this year. The seed came from a scion of Stern’s plant at Highdown and was given to me by Ivan Dickings who propagated the Highdown peony and returned a plant to Stern’s garden at Highdown after the original died. But Ivan grows a lot of tree peonies and the bees have obviously been busy and this one is going to be pink too. As it takes tree peonies at least six years from seed to flower you have to wait a long time to see what you have… Blow.

Paeonia ‘Gansu Mudan’ from seed of scion of the Highdown Peony rockii.

I have been away and every day I was anxious in case I missed the the tree peonies which really deserve a party and fireworks when they are full in bloom. But we gardeners are always worried about missing something when we go away. I have been absent from the blogging world for a while too, because of a malfunctioning tablet but I have a new one now and I hope to catch up with everyone soon.

We have been visiting family in Cornwall and the wonderful ravine gardens of Trebah and Glendurgan never fail to delight. They are tantalisingly full of plants which I can’t grow. For instance, you can walk through the gunnera grove at Trebah which is like walking through a forest.

Gunnera manicata at Trebah

I wish I could grow rhododendrons, enkianthus or Chilean Fire Bush.




Embothrium coccineum

The succulents at Trebah are amazing. I wish I could leave mine outside to grow as big as this.



At Glendurgan,  amongst other delights, there is a maze and the biggest, oldest tulip tree I have ever seen.

Maze, Glendurgan

Lirodendron tulipifera

At Cross Common Nursery on the Lizard, I saw plenty more plants which I can’t grow. What fun it would be to grow a Wong Wonga vine or a Banksia.

Pandorea pandorana ‘Golden Rain’


But I have lovely things too which I didn’t see in the West Country. As soon as I saw it last year, I put my name on the waiting list for this fabulous new clematis which won Plant of the Year award at Chelsea last year.

Clematis koreana ‘Amber’

Gladiolus tristis comes from South Africa and is not reliably hardy, it gets its grassy leaves in the winter and then in late spring the lovely flowers appear. I took a risk and planted it outside and it is rewarding me with its  pale yellow, scented flowers which don’t look at all triste to me. I wonder how it got its name.

Gladiolus tristis

I have a late flowering Magnolia laevifolia ‘Gail’s Favourite’ with pretty little lemon-scented flowers emerging from cinnamon coloured buds. It used to be a michelia but has been reclassified. I don’t know who Gail is but I admire her taste.

Magnolia laevifolia ‘Gail’s Favourite’

They say that crime doesn’t pay but a stolen cutting of the shrubby Lonicera tatarica is doing well. Stop tutting, it was a huge bush and a tiny cutting. I had never seen it before but I read that it is invasive in some parts of the world. It will serve me right if it takes over the garden.

Lonicera tatarica

The apple blossom is always a welcome sight but even lovelier in my eyes is the quince, Cydonia oblonga ‘Vranja’.

Cydonia oblonga ‘Vranja’

I don’t want the lovely month of May to go too fast but the first roses are always a joy. ‘Canary Bird’ has been blooming for ages and this year is the best it has ever been.

I love single roses and last year I bought Rosa ecae ‘Helen Knight’ which is similar to ‘Canary Bird’ but has darker, buttercup- yellow flowers and ferny leaves.

Rosa ecae ‘Helen Knight’

Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’ is another yellow early flowering rose. It is a rambler and boy, does it love to ramble. Mine which was grown from a tiny cutting has now reached the top of the apple tree where I expect the flowers are delighting the pigeons but I can’t see much of them. It is now heading for the garage roof and on to  the next village.
More manageable are the lovely roses with chinensis genes, Rosa ‘Mutabilis’ and Rosa chinensis ‘Bengal Beauty’. They both bloom for weeks and weeks and the first buds have just opened.

Rosa odorata ‘Mutabilis’

Rosa chinensis ‘Bengal Beauty’

I just managed to catch the camassias before they went over, they are lovely but they bloom so briefly that blink and you will miss them.
There are so many buds of promise still to come and some pretty groups of plants that have kept looking good for some time. The white flowers in the next picture are the late flowering Narcissus  triandrus ‘Petrel’. The euphorbia is Euphorbia griffithii ‘Fireglow’.

Here we have sky-blue Brunnera macrophylla with white Dicentra spectabilis and white-flowered variegated honesty.

It’s really good to be home to watch the rest of the darling buds of May unfurling. And I am looking forward to catching up with my blogging friends.

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38 Responses to The Darling Buds of May.

  1. pbmgarden says:

    Some wonderful plants. Glad you had some time away. The Gladiolus is beautiful and I would love to walk the maze.

  2. susurrus says:

    So many beautiful plants here. The clematis and magnolia caught my eye, but most of all the gladiolus. It may not be sad looking, but it is elegant.

  3. Liz – I, for one, have missed you. I may never get over that Liriodendron photo- having seen a zillion of them and they do not look like that in their native habitat, at all. Ever. Everything else, marvelous. Please continue. Amy

  4. Kris P says:

    You may not be able to grow everything you desire but you can grow a LOT! Peonies – *sigh*

  5. I really enjoyed your post. I think we all have a list of plants we can’t grow. I would love to have peonies.

  6. germac4 says:

    Lovely to see such a wonderful selection of plants and spring flowers, I am slightly envious as we are in the middle of autumn here in Australia.

  7. All the plants look so lush and healthy! All those roses are gorgeous. I don’t have any tree peonies, but my herbaceous peonies are just about ready to bloom. That’s always such a wonderful highlight of the garden year. Thanks for sharing your beautiful springtime images!

  8. What patience you have but well rewarded as your tree peonies are very beautiful, will you try again for the special white one? A lovely post and good to see your garden’s many springtime treasures.

    • Chloris says:

      My daughter has just bought a white Gansu mudan , oh my goodness they are expensive. If it flowers next year I shall certainly try again.

  9. Bodger says:

    Lovely post, thanks Chloris. I’m green with envy over your Cydonia and utterly jealous about the tree peonies. Perhaps I’m growing up, since I’m coming to accept my limitations and enjoy the displays in the gardens of others. I can’t manage the splendour of Cornwall; just as well since my plant budget isn’t bottomless.

  10. Tellement de belles fleurs que je ne sais dire qu’elle est ma variété préférée. J’aime beaucoup les pivoines et à priori, elles ne vont pas tarder à se déployer 😉 Magnifique jardin où il doit être agréable de se promener 🙂

  11. Sam says:

    It’s always a treat to read your posts and see your gorgeous plants. I think we must have that white narcissus here because we have one that is still blooming and looks very similar – thanks for the id. Going away is difficult when there’s so much going on in the garden but it’s good you didn’t miss the tree peonies or the camassias completely and it looks as though you saw some wonderful plants in Cornwall. That gunnera is magnificent.

    • Chloris says:

      Belated thanks for your comment Sam. I am slowly catching up with my blogging. Springtime in Cornwall seems a long time ago. Going away is lovely but my own garden in June is the best time of all.

  12. Cathy says:

    Oh what an abundant post with blooms from home and away 😀 Hope all is well with you both

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Cathy, we are both really well but life and technology have rather got in the way of my blogging. Hence this very late reply. But I am back on form now I hope. Hope you had a wonderful time at Chatsworth.

  13. mrsdaffodil says:

    Wonderful photos! The tree peonies are coming into bloom here and it is a thrill. Question for you – there are herbaceous peonies coming up at the base of one of the tree peonies. I guess it is a graft? I think I should have cut back the herbaceous growth, but now there are a lot of buds and it seems a shame to cut them back now.

    • Chloris says:

      Sorry to be so late replying Mrs. Daffodil, I have had technical problems. Yes tree peonies are grafted on to herbaceous peonies, you need to get rid of it if you want to keep your tree peony. I had one that took over and the tree peony died.

      • mrsdaffodil says:

        Thanks! I’m thinking I’ll tackle that in August? I let the herbaceous peonies bloom this year and they’re quite pretty. I’d like to salvage some of them and plant them elsewhere. Hope it won’t be too late for the tree peony, which bloomed well this year.

  14. sueturner31 says:

    Wow. A stunning collection of pictures. Some beauties that I would definitely make room for in my garden. 🌹🌼🌻

  15. Brian Skeys says:

    Quince blossom is beautiful. I saw ‘Canary Bird’ in a garden for the first time last week. I thought it was lovely although it had some evil looking thorns.

  16. Cathy says:

    Welcome home! And thanks for another inspiring post. As usual, there is too much to comment on. Your Canary Bird made me blush with the thought of my titchy little plant, however! Gorgeous peonies too – did they take a couple of years to germinate? And what do you think of Lonicera tatarica. I’ve been puzzled to see that in the catalogues of companies I buy from mail order (in France), the ‘usual’ (to me) honeysuckles – Lonicera periclymenum etc. – are really hard to come by, but L. tatarica is freely available. I’ve avoided it after googling. Would you recommend? Oh for a walk in your garden!

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Cathy. Tree peonies take a year to produce a root and the following year a shoot appears. It will take another 4 or 5 years for a bloom to appear.
      Lonicera tartica is blooming for the first time for me grown from a cutting. It is quite a pretty shrub but not much fragrance. It is not nearly as good as climbing fragrant honeysuckle.

      • Cathy says:

        Good to have your expert opinion on the honeysuckle. I have avoided L. tatarica so far because it seemed a bit weedy to me – the ‘good’ ones are not as easy to find with French nurserymen, so I get tempted, from time to time, by something that’s readily available. You are so patient with your peonies. I love propagating and was very good at it in the past. Here, I am a total failure, because I always have too much digging and strimming to do to give baby plants enough time. I really hope the happy propagating days will come back for me. It’s real gardening, the other is just housework.

  17. snowbird says:

    If you could grow all the plants you desire you would need another twenty acres! Good to have you back, I’ve missed your posts!
    Oh those buds, I would worry about missing them too, works of art for sure, shame you didn’t get your white one, oh…still waiting for your seeds to germinate, fingers crossed eh?
    How lovely to walk through a Gunnera Grove, and what a magnificent Tulip tree, amber is just gorgeous, especially decorated with that tiny white feather, certainly worth the

  18. Chloris says:

    Thank you Dina and no sooner was I back than I disappeared again. But I hope I am sorted out now. To be honest I find that brand new tablets resent being thrown down stairs. Specially 16th century wooden ones. If your seeds don’ t germinate you must try again this year and sow them strsightaway. They germinate better if they are fresh.

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