The Itoh Peony Bloom of 2022


One of spring's magic moments

The stumps are all out, finally.  Time to plant.  'Springfire' where the shovel is, Hakea, the pick. 

 There we go.  A maturing 'Springfire' is visible on the other side of the wrought iron fence, planted in September 2014 from a one gallon container.  It is now about 15' (4.5 m) tall.

Still need to mulch the area.  I was able to pull some of the Agaves.  Many more need to come out.  The jumbled mess of them are why I far prefer non-offsetting Agaves and Aloes:  non-offsetters create so much less green waste, need so much less labor. 
Elsewhere in the garden, Aloe pseudorubroviolacea's bloom signal the end of rainy-season Aloe flowers. 

Admiring the beauty, distracted by the roar of power tools.  Too often there's a worker on our street making a whole lot of noise and air pollution pruning shrubs into unnatural shapes.  One of them likes to shear certain Bougainvilleas every week.  Is that to prevent them from ever flowering?  Because Bougainvilleas are so awful in flower.  Those sheets of brilliant color--yecch!

(For the worker's privacy, face obscured.)

The Acidanthera (now Gladiolus) murielae bulbs purchased back in February finally woke up.   They are planted in a bulb pot because in the ground they can spread aggressively.  I've learned my lesson about Gladiolus--they are difficult to eliminate. 
Clematis 'Wisley' was too late for April Bloom Day.
So too, the Itoh Peonies.   Here is 'Misaka'.  I moved 'Misaka' last year.  It survived and has improved in its new location.    'Bartzella' will flower in a few days for a few days.  Both cultivars have a distinct, musky fragrance unlike the sweet scent of herbaceous Peonies.
This is proving to be the "leap" year for rose 'Princesse Charlene de Monaco', two flowers of which are seen here with a single 'Sunbelt Savannah'.
Very disappointing here for its first two years, 'Princesse' this spring has been impressive.  The flowers have for the first time produced the strong rich rose fragrance advertised by the seller.  Very, very nice!

In this photo, I was taken by the contrasting sizes of the lizard and the Agave.  

Sounds like it is hailing or pouring rain outside, at 2:26 AM Friday morning.  I can hear dear husband upstairs, shutting windows.  The heavenly music of rain, all too brief and rare here.  There's one barrel out to catch some of it.  If I'd put out every bucket and tub available, we'd have gotten not a drop.  

Leucospermum 'Blanche Ito' (or is it 'Blanchito'???) flowers age to very strange, weirdly wonderful UFO like shapes. 

Rose 'Burgundy Iceberg' continues to establish.  Still a youngster. 
From above, the Hippeastrum flowers look like people all chatting at a crowded party. 
Gully looks good, at this magic moment in April.
The music of rain fading away, at 2:36 AM, PDT.  

Update:  0.21" (5.3 mm) of rain overnight!  Hooray!


  1. Gorgeous photos! Spring has definitely sprung. Marvel at Hippeastrum planted in the ground. They have way more impact planted en masse. The photo of the lizard and Blue Glow is great. Contrasts in scale.

    1. Here Tulips are hopeless--a heat wave always arrives just as they open--ruining them in an hour. Plus the mandatory chilling bulbs in the fridge thing. Hippeastrums are a great substitute.

  2. Oooo, that peony is beautiful (and all the other plants and blooms, too)! Slopes can be challenging, can't they? Maybe more so in gardens that get heavy rains. I'm glad you've gotten some beneficial rain, though, too.

    1. We don't seem to get enough rain to damage the slopes at all lately. Last night was a little miracle!

      Slopes are challenging but good, too. You can see all the plants at once from the right vantage point.

  3. Congratulations on getting the last stumps out and the 2 shrubs in the ground! The roses are spectacular. I'm so envious I can't even bring myself to comment on the peony blooms - this year, my Itoh hasn't even produced foliage. However, I discovered a couple more Hippeastrums I planted in the ground are sprouting, so that offered a salve.

    Yay for the rain!!! I got a similar amount - 0.18/inch. I put out just one 7-gallon trug on the assumption that any rain was unlikely. It was full this morning and I was irritated that I hadn't dragged the barrel out but at least my 50-gallon tank filled up on its own ;)

    1. Yay for the rain, yes, yes! I keep a barrel under a downspout diverter "just in case" and it filled. All the new or sensitive plants got some extra of the good stuff.

      No foliage on the Itoh??!!?? :( There wasn't a gopher in the area, was there?

      Thanks, the last stumps out was such a relief. It was tough going.

      Garden Hippeastrums--so easy, so rewarding.

  4. My peony buds are promising beautiful blooms like your soon.

    What is the agave (?) in the photo after you talk about the Friday 2:26 am rain? It's stunning.

    1. Enjoy your peonies!

      That's a striated 'Blue Flame'. Not common.

  5. Hi Hoover Boo, I found your blog via Late to the Garden Party, where Kris informed me of your success with Itoh peonies, in what I would have thought was hostile peony territory. Impressive!

    It makes me wonder if I can grow them too.

    Do you mollycoddle them? Ice cubes in winter etc? Any magic tricks?

    Your comment about the hippeastrums chatting at a crowded party made me chuckle - that’s exactly what they look like.

    1. Hello Horticat, the Itoh peonies unlike herbaceous are able to flower without winter chill. They are a cross of herbaceous with tree peonies first developed over decades by Dr. Itoh, a Japanese horticulturalist. He performed 20,000(!!!!!!!) crosses before he was successful in getting a few seeds, and did not live long enough to see the first flowers. Others since have used his work and developed more hybrids.

      Some of these crosses will flower here in Southern California. No ice cubes, mollycoddling, or magic tricks. Rich soil that stays somewhat moist year round. They can't compete with tree roots. Fertilizer when the new leaves emerge. Morning sun, shade after about 1-2pm. That's about it.

      Thanks for stopping by!

    2. Thank you for the detailed info Hoover Boo. Next time I see one, I’ll snap it up.

      Poor Mr Itoh - so much dedication and he didn’t get to see the fruits of his labour. But what a lovely legacy he left behind.

    3. Many wonderful legacies left for us by many previous gardeners. Truly lovely!


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