by Leslie Cox; Saturday; June 9, 2018

azalea sawfly larva - closeupIt is so hard to stay on top of one’s schedule when you are a gardener. There is simply too much to do almost all at once. And then there are the interruptions, of course. A pest which needs dealing with…like the hours I spent hand-squishing the hatched azalea sawfly larvae which were consuming two of my favourite azaleas.



Hyphantria cunea - fall webworm moth


Or a mating pair of moths who needed to be properly identified as friend or foe…before the female laid those eggs. (As it turned out, this most recent moth discovery was the adult form of the fall webworm. Definitely a foe! They are now preserved in my growing insect collection.) For more info about this pest, click here.




It has been so busy, the tree peony bloom has come and gone for another year. But, oh my, what a display! My mom’s two tree peonies were resplendent in flowers this year after a disappointing showing last year. (I think the cold February and overly wet March and April in 2017 had a huge impact.) Unfortunately, Mom’s third tree peony did not bloom but then, I had moved it from its former, totally unsuitable location so I was not surprised. I am just thankful that it appears to be recovering by putting on new growth.

Mom's tree peony

The Mandarin peony








But John’s Itoh peony ‘Bartzella’ has finally bloomed this year for the first time since its introduction into the garden at least five years ago! We certainly were beginning to wonder if it ever would. (I think he shook his fist at it this spring.) The flower on ‘Bartzella’ is a gorgeous yellow…and the petals are so tightly wrapped you can only guess at the suggestion of a dark red centre around the stamens. A nice reward for the long wait.

Paeonia 'Bartzella'

Paeonia 'Bartzella' flower








For those of you who have not heard of the Itoh peony (pronounced EE-toe), these are a cross between a tree peony and an herbaceous. Thanks to the breeding work of Dr. Toichi Itoh, a Japanese horticulturalist, this unbelievable crossing successfully produced seven, what they are now calling, intersectional peonies. Other horticulturalists are now continuing Dr. Itoh’s work. I found a list online of twenty cultivars which have been introduced onto the market. There may be more.

Researching ‘Bartzella’ has been interesting and I will be writing about this cultivar and Itoh peonies in general in a future blog. Suffice to say here that the ‘Bartzella’ flowers have been totally worth the long wait. And I strongly suspect there will be more Itoh peonies additions to our landscape in the next few years.

Until next time…happy gardening!