A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


Mystery Peony
Friday, May 19, 2006

In the mid 1990s my neighbourhood was in flux. Older people who had gardened for years sold their houses which were then torn down to be replaced by bigger houses with smaller gardens that were supposed to be maintenance free. In those days contractors did not understand the value of the old plants in the gardens so I was able to remove many of them (with the contractors' blessing)and bring them home in a wheel barrow. There are many plants in my garden that remind me of the houses they came from or of the people who lived in them. I have a spirea from the garden across the street, where Mrs. Alm used to live. In hot summers, when the crows would make noise during her siesta, Mrs. Alm would come out and clap in a futile gesture as the crows never paid attention to her. My first hosta ever, a huge green one, came from a house on 43 Avenue and Hudson that had one of the most beautiful blue spruces I had ever seen. Since I have never found out its cultivar name of the hosta (probably Hosta 'Elata') I have always called it Hosta '43d & Hudson' For about 5 years an orange and red rose from Cartier Street had the name Rosa 'Cartier' until one day Brad Jalbert (from Select Roses in Langley) identified it as Rosa 'All That Jazz'. Rosemary has come to love it in spite of its lurid orange/red colour. Rebecca wants one. But one of the mystery guests of my garden is a peony tree that has very fragrant and large dark red flowers with white streaks. I know nothing about peonies so I have never identified it. In good years we got one to three blooms. A couple of years ago we had to remove a dying juniper hedge from the lane wall and since there is now a lot more sun coming in, the mystery peony is in full bloom today. I counted 12 flowers.

I find that I don't grieve for that beautiful blue spruce on 43d and Hudson Street. The new owners(who must have been young and patient) planted a Magnolia grandiflora. It has taken 10 years for the tree to grow and to finally bloom. The scent of Magnolia grandiflora's (called the Southern Magnolia) very large and very white flowers is sublime. Other scents I love are:

1. Rhododendron luteum
2. Rosa 'Fair Bianca'
3. old fashioned sweet peas

Select Roses


Previous Posts
Rhododendron luteum

The Toy Boat and the Manila Doll House

Martin Sheen

Jane Austin Coop - Muse

Hydrangea quercifolia 'Snowflake'

Madeleine Morris's Mouth

Marthe's Lovely Foot

Vancouver - Post Nuclear

John Hurt In Bed

Miss Havisham & Isabel

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