Paeonia humilis 'Flore Pleno' = Juhannuspioni (in Finland) = Kirjapaupan pioni

type: [herbaceous peony] – [species cultivar] – [historical cultivar of uncertain origin]



Vesa Koivu 2006

Dear Carsten, we are working on our manuscript of peony book. I would like to ask you two questions.

I would like to ask you about one peony cultivar, as well. Years ago I was presenting a picture of peony I called "Kirjapaupan pioni", and you asked me, if it was some Finnish cultivar. I answered to you that it was just some old unknown plant without any name.

Commercial nurseries were established in Finland after 1860, that was the time as The czar of Russia allowed "freedom of economy" for Finland. First peony cultivars with name offered for anybody to buy were put to the market around 1910. I have been reading a lot of those old price lists, and there is no such a peony that I am talking about. So it looks like that it has never been in commercial distribution at all.

Anyway, around 1890 there was an inquiry about plants in culture in Finland, and it is telling that peony was used in gardens as an ornametal plant in Southern and Western parts of the country. We know that those peonies were not P. lactiflora cultivars but some of those "old ones", maybe Mollis-group, 'Rubra Plena! and others, and this plant that I am interested in just now.

I have been making some inquiries about this "Kirjapaupan pioni", and I know that this peony is still used as an ornamental plant in Southern and Western parts of our country. Only now we do not speak any more about "Kirjapaupan pioni" but about "juhannuspioni" (peony of Midsummer festival). There are no official name for this cultivar. It has been called with various names but name "juhannuspioni" is old one and suitable because it does not include any gardeners name or district name but is telling the time of flowering season.

So I am asking you, do you know this cultivar or do you have any suggestions what it might be? The plant is about 50 cm high, about as high as 'Rubra Plena', 'Rosea Plena' or 'Mutabilis Plena' and it's flowering time is about the same. Leaf of "juhannuspioni" is dim, greyish green and the tip of the leaf is pointed if the leaf of 'Rubra Plena' and it's companions' is glossy, bright green and "blunt". The flower is double, like Rosa-rugosa-red and the plant is carrying the flowers about 10-15 cm above the leaves, this latter is a very easy way to identify this cultivar even if you just passing by in a car. You can dublicate it through little pieces of roots. I add here some photos for you. Yours, Vesa

Dear Carsten, I would like to suggest to you that you, or we together, would open an inquiry or a Search for Lost non-lactiflora Cultivars on your Web Site or some other proper place. There have to be in European gardens some of the old cultivars left, if we only have time to search after them. It was a quite eyes opening for me - while searching for 'Juhannuspioni' to find out that there have been so many different cultivars before P. lactiflora cultivars arrived. Maybe people should go back to the countryside or some old and rejectet gardens to see them.

'Juhannuspioni' is the same cultivar that I have been writing to you first with the name 'Kirjakaupanpioni' (along the place where I first noticed it). Last summer we found those about 50 gardens (page 122 in our book) that are still growing this old cultivar. The cultivar had lost its name but we picked up this 'Juhannuspioni' as one of the most convenient names used by the growers. Many gardeners called it just "peony" because they had no other peonies and no plans to get other peonies!

I do not want to be rigid in how to call or classify the cultivar, but I suppose that you can find the species of this cultivar in your own garden. I have enclosed a picture from your home pages, if I recall it right with name P. officinalis ssp. microcarpa. If you want to use pictures of 'Juhannuspioni' or something else on your pages, just let me know.

Vesa Koivu 2007

As we have been visiting Finnish home gardens we have been wondering a low growing peony that has mat green leaves, that are kind of hairy and light coloured from below. The peony blooms with double, red flowers a week or two earlier than P. lactiflora cultivars. We did not find this peony in any nursery list, peony book or data base and the gardeners themselves did not know the name either. Some gardeners said to us that it is called just a peony because there are no other peonies in their garden.

As we were collecting materials for our book, we were lucky to find out that there has been a Finnish nursery, Finska Trädgårdsodlings Sällskapets Trädgård å Kuppis, that has been selling the peony in the year 1847 with name Paeonia humilis Flore Pleno.

Later we found out that there have been group of cultivars that have been put under the species name P. humilis or some times under the species name P. paradoxa but almost all of them have been "fazed out" (?) of commerce - and out of the memory of the gardening world. We do not know if the name Paeonia humilis Flore Pleno is accurate for this cultivas because there have been numerous double flowering cultivars, too, in this group, for example 'La brillante', 'La Negresse', 'pulchella plena',' violacea sphaerica' etc. For the present we here in Finland are calling it 'Juhannuspioni' along old local Finnish name - it is still gowing and flourishing here and there in Finnish gardens. Yours, Vesa Koivu, Finland

Carsten Burkhardt's Web Project Paeonia - The Peony Database