Early Windflower. Doesn’t that name conjure up a lovely woodlands landscape with little storybook characters pottering around in the brush? I can just see this bloom there waving gracefully in the breeze.
We’ve chosen this whimsically named rare herbaceous perennial as our January Plant of the Month.
One of the first flowers to come out of A.P. Saunders’ breeding program, coming about in 1939, he continues the magic, describing it this way:
"The white flowers, like autumn anemones, nod gracefully above the fern-like foliage. We cannot recommend too highly these lovely garden plants. Vigorous growers, these alas set no seed."
Autumn anemones, nodding gracefully.
More beautiful word pictures.
The Early Windflower definitely has a delicate Japanese anemone appearance. A hybrid between P. veitchii and the Himalayan Peony, P. emodi, this parentage contributes to its wild look.
As you can tell by the name this one is an early bloomer. So early, that even before the woodland peonies have woken up it will be the first type of peony to start flowering in your garden.
You’ll see these single, white, side-facing flowers, complimented by their finely cut pale green leaves, at the first hint of spring and have been know to produce up to 6 or 7 flowers on each stem. Their foliage also makes a very pleasing background for other flowers you may have, so even before it starts flowering it's doing a wonderful job looking great in your garden. Tolerating partial shade, they are happy in any sheltered position in fertile, moist, well-drained soil. They really are not fussy at all.
Vigorous and fast growing into a large clump with many stems and flowers, we highly recommend them for any gardener, old or new, as they have so many good characteristics - easy to grow, robust, unusual and lovely to look at.
You could add this one to your collection along with another that blooms a week later - the “Late Windflower “. Sharing P.emodi parentage, there is very little difference between them besides the timing of their flowers. So they’d be a good pair to have in your garden to bring some continuity to your display.
Saunders continued the magical theme there is even one called “Sparkling Windflower”.
So now that you’ve gotten to know about our January plant of the month, you may want to make sure your peonies are hibernating happily in the winter season.
If you forgot to trim the stems back in Autumn, you can still do that now and as we learnt in our Autumn post, peonies aren't afraid of the cold so as long as you made sure to plant your peony in a well-drained container or area in the garden and are keeping it moist when it isn't damp enough, your peony is slumbering with a great big contented smile on its face.
At times in winter you may see the crown making its way through the soil and showing you some "eyes". Rest assured it's not giving you the stink eye. This is perfectly natural for a mature peony and you don’t need to do anything about it!
If you have a tree peony, you don't need to trim the branches in Autumn. You can leave them to stand bare-branched for the winter. However, if you did happen to have cut it down to the ground it's likely that if the roots are established enough it will be able to produce new branches when spring rolls around, but you will have to wait and see.
Have any questions about Windflowers or caring for your peony during the winter season?
Let us know!