May 31, 2011
Itoh Peony 'Keiko' aka 'Pink Double Dandy'
Intersectional peonies - crosses between tree peonies and herbaceous peonies - are becoming very popular of late. Here are some photos of 'Keiko' (otherwise known as 'Pink Double Dandy'), which I bought this spring from my local nursery in a 5 gallon Monrovia pot.
These intersectionals are ridiculously expensive. Most catalogs and websites seem to price them around $100, which is about what I paid. At least I brought home a seriously big plant (above) for that seriously big price! Although my peony was in the same size pot as several other Itoh hybrids, it was two or three times as large. Who knows whether my plant was just older than the others or if 'Keiko' is especially vigorous.
Here is a series of photos showing how the flowers progress from bud to full bloom. You can see above that the buds aren't perfectly round balls like herbaceous peony buds. One nice thing about these Itoh types is that their stems are strong enough to hold the flowers aloft without staking, even when in full bloom.
The color changes as the flower develops. Here it's a vivid cool pink, but it soon fades.
The flowers on my new plant are not as full as the ones pictured on the Monrovia website here. It will be nice to see how they fill out in coming years as the plant settles into its spot and develops plenty of roots.
The color of the flowers is sophisticated and not easy to describe. Maybe vivid rose fading to tapestry or vintage rose would be the best description. There seems to be just a hint of pale yellow underlying the pink, which becomes more apparent as the flower ages.
The stamens are bright golden yellow and are very prominent when the flower is fully open. The flowers on my plant seem to open and close through the day, depending on how sunny and warm it is.
I've read comments from other gardeners about how it is difficult to place pinkish Itohs into the garden because their color is different from the clear pinks of herbaceous peonies. I agree with that assessment.
It's a very pretty pink though, and would make sophisticated floral arrangements (if one can figure out what other flowers to put with it). I'll probably cut some to bring inside now that I've taken pictures for this post.
Soon I will post about my 'Kopper Kettle' Itoh peony, which has just one bud waiting to open. If you find yourself wanting more information about Itohs, check out Monrovia's collection here or the Intersectional page from Swenson Gardens here.