Botanist's Lens: Flowers of Fancy or Petals of the Woods?


Tree Peony, Paeonia suffruticosa var.


Today’s post might leave you torn between the petals of fancy and those of the woods, asking which one is more breathtaking?


Wildflowers are easily mistaken as weeds, not paid heed to as much, and most definitely not common in a bride's bouquet or best sellers in the industry. But for a woodland garden, wildflowers are not just a ground cover, they are an integral part of an ecosystem. “We don’t often realize it, but wildflowers support entire ecosystems for pollinators, birds, and small animals on a micro scale.” (Source: https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/ethics/index.shtml).



Woods Poppy, Stylophorum diphyllum


Woods Poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum) belongs to the Papavaraceae family. It is an epitome of simplicity! Gorgeous yellow blooms all spring and summer.



Woods Poppy, Stylophorum diphyllum filling up a woodland hillside

'Stylos' is in reference to style. Nope, not style as in personal style, but a tube that connects the ovary to the stigma in a flower. An excellent woodland native ground cover. However, Woods Poppy will never even remotely closely receive any attention as the red, commercially successful Papaver rhoeas or the native California Poppy, Eschscholzia californica.



Wild Geranium, Geranium maculatum, thriving in a ravine, prevent erosion.

Similar is the story of the 'Wild Geranium.' Nurseries are packed with Geraniums. But only a handful folks will buy the dainty 'Wild Geranium,' a rather leggy plant of the woods, excellent for erosion control. To me, it is more breathtaking than its bright cousins that will adorn many hanging baskets.

London Town's woods are currently filled with Woods Poppy and Wild Geraniums. Both indicate a rather rich-soil and the dampness of a nearby ravine.



Tree Peony, Paeonia suffruticosa 'Jitsu-getsu-nishiki'

Compare these examples of wildflowers to the bright, large Peonies? There probably is no comparison to their popularity and excellence in trade, for the Peony is considered as 'King of flowers'. Aptly so, because of the size of the flower and its long shelf life after cutting.



Tree Peony, Paeonia suffruticosa 'Companion of Serenity'


Tree peonies, however, aren't as popular as the herbaceous ones. They are actually easy to grow than presumed. London Town has an excellent collection of Tree Peonies that have been in the ground over 35 years!

Large or small, fragile or long lasting, they are all exceptional in their own way. Some are crucial for a habitat and others make businesses richer and a brides bouquets last longer. Flowers of fancy or of the woods, they all are picture perfect!