A Brief but Brilliant Show-The California Peony

This year I made it. I made it out to the Elfin Forest in Baywood to see the California Peony, Paeonia californica in bloom. Last year, I missed their bloom period (only a few weeks) by about two weeks. All that was left were green seed heads, although interesting in their own right, but not what I came to see. What I came to see was a peony. Most peonies don’t grow well here. Lacking the required hours of cold chill in the winter they fail to bloom and often stop returning at all. The California Peony, however, comes back every year. It’s emergence from it’s dormant state coincides with our late winter rains and this year, we’ve had quite a lot. You can find themĀ  in many places along the California coast, but they can take a bit of searching. Preferring to grow in dry brushy places it can be lost amongst the shrubs. But in the Elfin Forest you’ll find them popping up right next to the boardwalk. I had pondered trying to locate seeds online to grow, but passed after reading about how difficult they were to cultivate. Instead I’ll let Mother Nature do the work and just marvel at her efforts. Beautiful, isn’t it?

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8 comments for “A Brief but Brilliant Show-The California Peony

  1. at 7:20 am

    I had no idea we had a native Peony. I like the sound of “Elfin forest”. Sound mysterious. Like so many natives they grow where they want, no mater what we want. Thanks for sharing.

    • Kat
      at 7:17 pm

      Trey the Elfin forest is so named because of the pygmy oaks. Due to a lack of nutrients in the soil, the oaks grow to only about 10 feet. The area is also home to many Chumash shell mounds. It’s a nice bit of history and nature rolled into one.

  2. Patrick Yasu Huther
    at 8:39 am

    Lovely photo Kat, near here at the Root Glen Botanical Garden, Clinton NY (Z5) they have an extensive collection of beautiful and unique-rare peonies that I try to see bloom every year. They are magnificent and fragrant and make great photos.

    • Kat
      at 7:16 pm

      Thanks for stopping by Patrick. I can imagine that peonies make wonderful photography subject. They are so lovely.

  3. at 12:49 pm

    It is a beautiful color Kat. When I lived in Connecticut eons ago, I always coveted their Peonies… they were grand!

    • Kat
      at 7:15 pm

      I covet them too. I’ve never smelled one, but I understand it is a wonderful scent.

  4. at 3:45 am

    I think those might be just the thing for my sandhill garden…
    Sorry to hear that you were put off by the difficulty… We need a link to read more….

    • Kat
      at 11:12 am

      Actually I’m not at all upset that I can’t grow. I think difficult to cultivate natives should just be left to Mother Nature to grow. That makes them even more special when they appear.

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