June 28, 2011
Itoh Peony 'Kopper Kettle'
Like 'Keiko' (see post here), 'Kopper Kettle' is another intersectional or Itoh hybrid peony. These plants have large flowers held up on strong stems like their tree peony parents, but their foliage dies back to the ground each winter.
My plant was purchased last spring without any flowers, and it gave three blooms this spring. At first I thought there'd just be one, but two more buds were hiding under the foliage.
You can see the interesting color combination of peach, rose, copper and cream that gives this flower its name.
While visiting my local nursery a couple of weeks ago, I heard the owner mention that they would no longer be carrying 'Kopper Kettle', since it has proven to be less vigorous than hoped. He said Monrovia will be introducing a newer Itoh with similar coloring called 'Picasso' or 'Picassa'.
So here's another lesson on the virtue of patience - it's always wise to wait a few years to see how a new introduction does before buying it for your own garden. But us gardeners (ahem) sometimes have more enthusiasm than wisdom.
I'm certainly not ready to rip out this plant and replace it with another expensive Itoh hybrid. I'll just give it some bloom booster fertilizer and enjoy the flowers it puts out, even if there aren't as many of them as one would like. In the photo above you can see how the color has faded after several days in the sun.
This photo shows one of the blooms that showed up under the foliage. Its coloring is especially vivid since it didn't receive any direct sun.
I cut the flower and enjoyed it inside for several days. The color didn't fade, and the bloom put out a spicy fragrance. When 'Keiko' was blooming (it bloomed earlier since it had been in a greenhouse all winter), I cut a bunch of flowers and was impressed with how well they held up in a vase (see below). Their color holds up much better inside, so in future springs I'll probably cut most of the flowers from my Itohs for vases and show them off indoors.
Recently I have also been researching tree peonies and have decided to try a few in my yard. I placed an order from Cricket Hill Gardens for a couple of red-flowering tree peonies to arrive this fall. I was very impressed with the gorgeous photos of both tree and herbaceous peonies at the Peony's Envy website - check it out if you have time to enjoy some vibrant, luscious flower images.
ADDED May 2012 - 'Kopper Kettle' has 20 buds right now, which is nothing to complain about! 'Keiko' has fewer than last year, maybe 10 total. One long-time grower of intersectionals suggested that these plants can be inconsistent with their flowering while young. They live for a long time, though, so there's plenty of time ahead for more flowers.