Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Molly the Witch Peony by Duane Davidson

Last year I wrote about an unusual peony, the fernleaf peony, that makes its appearance earlier each spring than its better-known cousins. Growing nearby, and blooming even earlier, is another little-known member of the peony family. This one bears the nickname "Molly the Witch," a rendering of its unpronounceable botanical name Paeonia mlokosewitschii. A half-dozen flowers began opening last weekend to join the tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and other spring bulbs blooming on my street.

Like all peonies, Molly was slow to establish. I found her as a young seedling at the Denver Botanic Gardens spring plant sale about ten years ago. For several years I wondered if she would survive, and then nearly forgot her. Four years ago she surprised me with a bloom.

Molly is one of the first plants to send up shoots in early spring. This year they weathered at least two snowfalls. Her flowers are less resilient, of course, but are holding up well this year.

Molly the Witch originated in the Caucasus and is also known as the Caucasian peony.