Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Wednesday Vignettes: Spring jewels

Last week, the morning after it rained (yes, we got 0.53 inches of rain last week!), I looked out the window of my office and my heart almost stopped.  I saw a small but bright pink ball of color.  Could it be?  It had been nearly 2 years.  I'd pretty much given up hope.  Maybe the same delusions that had me imagining snow when I saw the flower petals of our Pyrus calleryana falling had returned in a different form?  But no, a closer look proved that it wasn't a figment of my imagination.

The bloom I spied through the window


This is Paeonia cambessedesii, also known as the Majorcan Peony.  The first time I tried to get this plant, available as part of a limited supply offer from Annie's Annuals & Perennials, I pushed the "submit" button a moment too late and lost out.  The second time I received notice of its availability, I didn't dilly-dally with other selections - I placed my order immediately.  I planted it from a 4-inch pot in March 2014.  It didn't flower that year or in 2015 and I frankly held out little hope.  My history with peonies is a sad one.  Many years ago, I tried planting a herbaceous peony.  Knowing that our winter chill was probably insufficient to satisfy the plant's needs, I tried fooling it by depositing ice on top of the soil at periodic intervals throughout the winter months.  I knew it was harebrained idea but I really, really love peonies.  Needless to say, that experiment was unsuccessful.  Next, I planted a tree peony.  After 3 or 4 years of nothing, I got one flower, then years and years of nothing.  After we moved into our current home in 2010, I planted another tree peony.  Nothing.  Then, in 2013, I planted an Itoh peony, an intersectional hybrid advertised as suitable to warmer Southern California areas.  It came with buds but it hasn't bloomed since it was first planted.  For a tiny specimen, the price for the Majorcan peony was relatively high but I had to try, didn't I?

This photograph was taken 2 days after the bud opened


So, maybe this will be a repeat of my tree peony experience but, as the saying goes, hope springs eternal.  The plant is still dinky - no more than 4 inches in diameter - but it's alive and it's produced a bloom!  I put my name back on Annie's wish list to receive notice when more of these plants become available.

Unlike the peony, the other spring jewels in my garden this week are not at all shy, although they can be difficult to photograph.  But the other day when I was on the back patio cutting my husband's hair, a job I somehow got drafted to perform many years ago and, despite my best efforts, haven't been able to pass off to a more qualified party, I was repeatedly buzzed by the local hummingbirds.  Standing between them and their feeder, they apparently decided that I posed no threat - or they were simply too embroiled in fighting with one another to worry about me.  So, when I finished with my chore, I sat down with my camera aimed at their feeder.  Mine is a point-and-click camera so the quality isn't great but I was still pleased to get such close shots.

I believe this is a female Rufous hummingbird.  Unfortunately, the colorful male Rufous that visited the feeder several times during my husband's haircut chose not to return once I had my camera in hand.

I believe this is a male Anna's hummingbird.  Anna's are residents here year-round but Rufous, described by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology as the "feistiest hummingbird in North America" are short-term visitors.


My last shot is fuzzier still but I thought you might enjoy it.  It's the first time I've been mooned by a hummingbird.



For more Wednesday vignettes, visit Anna at Flutter & Hum.


All material © 2012-2016 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

30 comments:

  1. I'd say being mooned by a hummingbird must be a very special kind of honor! So very happy you got some rain, and a much awaited sign of peony goodness! :)

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    1. In truth I don't think the hummingbirds care a wit about me so long as I fill the feeder on a regular basis.

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  2. A PEONY?? Wonderful Kris! Love your hummingbird shots; they can be so bold yet so camera shy, can't they?

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    1. My hummingbird shots don't hold a candle to yours, Amy! They do seem to be camera shy - they were bolder in visiting the feeder when I had scissors in my hands.

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  3. I wish you luck with your peony. A Majorcan variety does seem like a good possibility for success. I really like the Itohs, but I don't have any myself--I just enjoy them in other people's gardens. :-)

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    1. Every year when those Itoh peonies appear in the local garden centers, my fingers itch, but I refuse to buy another until the one I have blooms again and my guess is that's not going to happen this year with the heat on and the rain off.

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  4. I think I envy you your hummingbirds almost as much as your view. It's a close call. Worth being mooned for!

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    1. I count myself very lucky to have resident hummers, Jessica!

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  5. Ha! And what a cute little "moon" it is... Peonies don't even pretend to cope with central Texas weather so I'm not tempted to try, but those gorgeous large flowers are certainly worth taking a shot if there's a variety that will cooperate. Happy that you got some rain at last - we did too and it is sorely needed.

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    1. Technically, according to the Sunset Western Garden Book, I'm on the cusp of zone limit for tree peonies, although not, contrary to the hype, in the right zone for the Itoh peonies. There's not much of any information to be found on the Majorcan species and my little specimen is still a long way from looking like the grower's photo but, where there's a flower, there's hope.

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  6. Beautiful flower and most excellent hummingbird photo, an angle we never see! I did have to chuckle at your putting ice on your herbaceous peony. Kind of like me making a PVC hut to cover a large potted (can't be moved undercover) agave. We crazy gardeners will do anything to get what we want right?

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    1. I'm glad to know I'm in good company, Loree!

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  7. Pretty vignettes for spring cheer!

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    1. They made me smile and I'm glad to find that readers enjoyed the photos too.

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  8. Wow, a peony bloomed there. I'm going to have to look that up, but then we get more summer heat. It's a nice bright spring flower.

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    1. I probably should just confine myself to buying a bouquet of peonies annually when the flowers become available in the local markets, Shirley. It would certainly be cheaper and less frustrating.

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  9. The hummingbird is cute, and the peony bloom both beautiful and a beacon of hope. I hope you get as many peony blooms as you have hummingbirds!

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    1. That would be a LOT of peonies, Renee. You'd be surprised how many hummingbirds we have.

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  10. We all do it, don't we? Persevere with a plant that blatantly doesn't want to grow for us - I've had similar experiences with peonies and I should be able to grow them, there's a whole farm of them just a few miles away! I love your hummingbirds, I'm so glad you decided to share them with us.

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    1. Gardeners can be gluttons for punishment, Christina!

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  11. I'm so glad you posted this. I love peonies as well but of course they don't grow here either. I will look for Paeonia cambessedesii the next time I'm at Annie's. The nursery often has plants available that are out of stock on the web site.

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    1. It'll be interesting if you find the peony on the shelf, Gerhard. The first time it was offered on-line after I put it on my wish list, I plunked it in my "cart" as soon as I opened my early morning e-mail but before I could complete my order, the supply was poof!

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  12. Beautiful birds, beautiful peony. Congratulations on the flower. I love them too, the flowers are so fleeting but so exquisite.

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    1. For my sanity's sake, I probably should stick to buying cut peonies but I can't seem to give up the fight, even if all I have is a minuscule chance of success.

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  13. Both hummingbird IDs are correct. Congratulations on the butt shot, it's always a challenge to get a good butt shot! I've found Calypte Anna (both male and female) to be the most cordial about photos of all the SoCal varieties. Selasphorus sasin (Allen's) are the most uncooperative.

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    1. I was disappointed that the male Rufous didn't return - he was a handsome fellow.

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  14. Congratulations on your peony flower; it's a beauty. I'll keep my fingers crossed that your peony plant settles in and thrives. A Mediterranean peony seems like a good choice for your Mediterranean coastal California climate. -Jean

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    1. I was pretty excited that the peony actually bloomed, as you could no doubt tell. It feels like a minor miracle even if the plant and the flower are still very small.

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  15. The hummingbirds are adorable! The jewel pinky red on the male hummingbird's throat is gorgeous.

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    1. It's really too bad I didn't also manage to get a photo of the male Rufous hummingbird - he's also a very handsome fellow with altogether different coloring.

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