· r e j i q u a r · w o r k s ·
the various and sundry creations of sylvus tarn
2022 White Tree Peony
now has a name...?

I've known for years that one of my three tree peonies is the Japanese cultivar ‘Shima Nishiki’. Presuming all were bought at the same time,[1] my best guess for this peony is Hakuo-jishi or White Jade Lion, right down to the stray petaloid amongst the stamens, as you can see in the third photo.

But the gorgeous translucency—also a signature quality of the best jade—is certainly on display, and the name for this beautiful plant makes perfect sense to me.

white tree peony blossom with rain; sony A7c, sony 90mm macro, f/2.8, 1/100s +0.3ev, ISO 200, WB cloudy 21may22:10:00 (approx); lightly cropped & scaled

Cricket Hill Garden seems to have the best info on these, and they claim this older (pre-1910) introduction features a ‘lion's mane’ conformation, that is, the ruffled petals. They note:

There are some peony shapes which do not fit neatly into the above categories. An example is the “lion’s mane” form of tree peony blossom which was very popular in Japan in the 19th century. These flowers are typically semi-double and ruffled. These shaggy flowers are not as popular today and rarely seen in commerce. (!!!)

white tree peony blossom just opened; sony A7c, sony 90mm macro, f/8.0, 125s, ev +0.3, ISO 100 WB cloudy; 20may22:13:00 (approx) lightly cropped & scaled

I have few kind things to say about the former owner of our house, who enraged his realtor,[2] cheated tradesmen, left behind live wires and batches of nails buried in the ground (really), but I'm pretty sure they planted the three tree peonies: a white, and red and white stripe, and a magenta (red).[3]

White tree peony blossoms, one showing petaloid typical to this plant, 24may22, approx 18:00; f/4.0, ev -0.3, focal length 110mm, 1/1600 ISO 50, tamron 70–180mm lens on sony A7c; scaled to 4000pixels, otherwise unchanged.

I've never appreciated the all-red one as I perhaps should (not helped by the fact that it's exiled towards the back of the garden) but the two by the deck have given me years of delight.

[1]and that this was another relatively old, common, and inexpensive cultivar 20+ years ago

[2]By taking some lace curtains after we'd given them permission to take the far more expensive drapes, typically a no-no

[3]They were pretty clueless homeowners: besides leaving live wires in the ground, they took such poor care of the silver maples I had to have half of them removed before they fell down the first year we moved in; and I'd find clumps of two or three garden markers for sun-loving perennials—the plants were always long gone, but it was clear the guy's MO was to buy a visually appealing flower, plop it into the ground with no prep whatsoever, and after it died, put in another. I have been amending the hard pack clay on this property for nearly two decades now, and still feel like I've barely made a difference, so I s'pose I'm being a bit harsh. At any rate, of all the flowering plants that came with the house only the tree peonies have survived.


[garden] [2022] [peony]