Black Dragon Holds a Splendid Flower …

Paeonia suffruticosa ‘Wu Long Peng Sheng’: Black Dragon Holds a Splendid Flower

Wu Long Peng Sheng. Translated from Chinese, the name means, ‘Black Dragon Holds a Splendid Flower’. I haven’t seen the black dragon, but I keep looking. Maybe he’s hiding in the fern covered ledges; waiting to pounce if I pick this beautiful, magenta blossom? I wouldn’t blame him for being upset. His flower is, without a doubt, the most splendid in the early June garden. So if I’m found later this week —smoldering near the Japanese maple— you’ll know why. I couldn’t resist. The fragrance is incredible…

P. suffruticosa ‘Wu Long Peng Sheng’ blossoms late May through early June

Paeonia suffruticosa ‘Wu Long Peng Sheng’ is a glorious tree peony from China. Hardy in USDA zones 4-8, it will grow 5-6 feet tall and slightly less wide over as many years. Tree peonies bloom about a week before most herbaceous peonies, but I have a bit of overlap in my garden with many of the early blooming, P. lactiflora cultivars. Tree peonies are among the longest-lived garden plants, and have been cultivated in China and Japan for centuries. Unlike their herbaceous relations (Paeonia lactiflora), tree peonies will tolerate a bit of light shade. In fact, they perform best and their delightfully fragrant blossoms last longer, with protection from hot afternoon sun. Be sure to prepare the soil well, with plenty of compost, and site all tree peonies in moist, but well-drained locations. Pruning of winter damaged wood should take place in very early spring, and pruning for shape should happen immediately after the blossoms have faded. P. suffruticosa ‘Wu Long Peng Sheng’ makes and excellent cut flower, and when I look closely —deep inside the petals— I can almost see the Black Dragon’s fire…

Fiery Heart of the Black Dragon’s Flower

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7 Replies to “Black Dragon Holds a Splendid Flower …”

  1. Jen

    That third photo? Ah-mazing. I felt my heart skip a beat or ache or something weird when I looked at it. I don’t really do the seated meditation thing but I can imagine all my frivolous thoughts getting subdued while observing this close-up photo.

    Stunning. Eye-popping. And as usual, I want to taste that color!

    A former bar tender at McNeills used to make a funny pink girly drink this time of year out of the peonies someone would bring in. She’d stick a peony petal on top and serve it to the regular burly boy customers. They thought it was hysterical.

  2. Michaela

    Thanks Jen. And, I agree completely! The inside of Wu Long Peng Sheng looks just like a glowing Cosmopolitan. Mesmerizing indeed. And the fragrance? It’s so delicious, I can’t even describe it. Mmmm. xox

  3. Jen

    btw, the drink wasn’t literally made out of peonies…just had a petal for decoration. I don’t even know if peonies are poisonous or not!

    Also, this photo and post was a nice boost to my afternoon of being stuck inside in front of a computer at work with my long sleeves, long pants, wool socks and leather boots to keep me warm int the overly-conditioned air.

  4. Michaela

    @ Jen – Peonies were used medicinally in many cultures and aren’t considered poisonous to humans. But, if ingested in large quantities (why on earth would anyone do that, except maybe a dragon?) they can be toxic. Peonies are poisonous to some animals though. I believe they are toxic when eaten by cats, *and just checked, yes all parts are also toxic to dogs. My dog eats everything, but he has never eaten my peonies. Maybe he knows that he would have to fear me more than the poison. ;)

  5. Terry Covington

    Absolutely brilliant! What a beautiful post. I only discovered your blog a few months ago, and eagerly follow it now. I don’t have a garden of my own, but wander nearly every day in a local botanical garden taking photographs. I have to say, your creativity, photography, and insights inspire me. Thank you! And that dragon’s fire photograph at the end — it took my breath away.

  6. Michaela

    @ Terry, Thank you so much for the sweet words. I’m so glad you found this blog and that you enjoy it! I love that you wander through your local botanical garden and take photos there on a regular basis. Public gardens belongs to those who visit. I’m working on a community garden design right now, and I hope that all who visit will see the space as their own. So happy to know you are out there, following along. xo Michaela

  7. Deb Weyrich-Cody

    Hi Michaela, Jen said it: I could literally feel my heart lurch, brain cells give a huge sigh of relief at the instant of focus – irresistibly drawn into the current of her fiery breath. Fancy that, just wafting away on sweet exhalation… xo D

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