Albiflora X Emodi
P. emodi appears to be the only peony to grow wild in the Himalaya mountains. This is a tallish plant with many nodding small white flowers and rather fernlike foliage. Here is a page from the notebook, on the long-drawn-out effort to establish this species in the garden "One plant from Botanic Gardens of Dublin, spring 1928. It ultimately died. One hundred seeds from the Superintendent of Hyde Park, London, in spring, 1928. Sent some to the Harvard Botanic Garden. Most of mine rotted; none came up, and Harvard also had none germinate. Twelve seeds from Hyde Park again, in February, 1929. They gave in 1930 eight plants. In 1932, I let it bloom undisturbed so as to get a crop of seeds, and this was the result: 24 big, flat, dark blues, all soft. No germination. In 1935, the same: 8 seeds, all soft. Seems to be quite self-sterile. And it crosses unwillingly with albifloras. I have made a good many attempts and have only two or three hybrid plants."
From 48 crosses in 1931, two-thirds were failures, and the remaining 17 gave only 65 seeds. Fourteen plants ultimately resulted, and one plant has been introduced, named White Innocence. It bears a number of flowers on each stem, of which only the laterals produce seed, and these but few. This plant grows to almost five feet, and is the tallest, and latest to bloom of the Saunders hybrids.
Emodi fathered two other beautiful hybrids, which we shall meet near the end of this chapter.
And so we come to the end of all those hybrids which resulted from combining albiflora with some other species.
Some eighty per cent of all Dr. Saunders' herbaceous hybrids have now been discussed, and within that four-fifths are many of his most significant creations.
There still remains, however, a number of interesting and beautiful races.
But before going on to these, mention should be made of a heroic attempt, and tribute paid to the originality and persistence of another peony originator.
In mlokosewitschi, the only truly yellow herbaceous peony, would seem to lie the most alluring of possibilities for a new hybrid race; its flowers are a delicate pale almost lemon-sherbet sort of shade, nonetheless a true enduring yellow; the leaves a dull jade gray-green without sheen or gloss, slightly rounded at the tips; purplish-crimson stems complete the picture of what is after all one of our most beautiful garden plants.
Alas, it has proved for many gardeners too difficult to grow. But "mloko" in bloom among a clump of Narcissus poeticus in May is a lovely sight, and those who wish to add distinction to their gardens should try at least once. [54:] It has strong pollen. All in all, the hybridist fairly drools when he thinks of a possible hybrid race with "mloko's" color, foliage, and season, and albiflora's double flowers and greater hardiness. "Mloko," however, was to prove a cruel disappointment; it crosses not at all with albiflora, and only grudgingly with other species that one may offer as eligible partners. "In the earlier years, 1918-1924," runs the Notebook, "I used to make this cross almost every year, and certainly, in the aggregate, I made several hundred. Occasionally, I would get some seed, but all plants from it were pure "Albis"; the result of accidental selfing. I therefore gave up this cross. Tried once again in 1929. All failures. This ought to be enough."
Dr. Earle B. White, a former Washington dentist now living in Florida, was working on the cross during this same period. Dr. White persistently made some five hundred crosses a year between "mloko" and albiflora, and did this for eight years before finally getting one hard hybrid seed. Then he had what is almost unknown in hybridizingone hundred per cent germination! It came up! It came up, grew to maturity, flowered, and was unmistakably a hybrid. With pale ivory-yellow flowers, and foliage midway between the two parents, it blooms in early June in Clinton, and is truly a distinct and beautiful addition to the peony world, quite aside from being a hybridist's triumph. Named Claire de Lune. the stock is now owned by the Gilbert Wild and Son Nursery in Sarcoxie, Missouri.