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I think you are right about Blushing Princess.  The thing tends to make very vigorous seedlings and large plants.  My sense is that it’s children often carry these same qualities.  Bill used it a lot, so his things carry it too.  BP tends to “grow old” in my sandy soils though, and over time I’ve had to get rid of a few of them, and at this point I only have one of them left.  It’s also fairly frost sensitive (but not as bad as some) so getting seeds off of it has always been dependent on the sort of spring we have here.  At this point I’ve been trying to replace it as a breeding plant with some of it’s seedlings I’ve grown.  Which is the same thing that Bill did over time, I think ?

I continue to use Lemon Chiffon, as it’s a good seeder here.  If it’s terminals freeze out, then it’s side buds often will want to make seeds.  The seeds are small, and often the seedlings are small as well, but once they get out in the field, they proceed to make large plants.  I avoid using other yellows on it, as I’ve got enough yellows to last me forever, it seems.  Otherwise it tends to make pinks, and the very occasional nice red, if red pollens are used on it. To be honest, I don’t think of it as a source of yellow anymore – I just think of it as good seeder.  Everyone has already made the LC x Mac Grand cross years ago I suspect, but I just got around to making a big push with it myself  several years ago, and was able to get a row of 100 into the fields this fall.  LC can produce some very full doubles as well, much more double than LC itself, so I still consider it a good breeding plant, and keep several plants of it at my home.

I finally dug out Bill’s Best Yellow ( VS) this fall.  I had it for quite a few years, and it grew well for me, but I simply could not get seeds on the thing. It’s carpals were just too frost sensitive here. My room here at home is limited, so I’ve used it’s location for something else.  Something equally as interesting I hope.

I became fascinated with plant vigor a few years ago, after seeing some frighteningly large plants among my seedling, and so I would hold back the very largest seedling of any interesting cross that I made, and kept them here at home for an additional year in pots, instead of taking them over to the nursery. My soils are so poor that I figured I’d have the best growing luck with the most vigorous things here at home, no matter what their flowers should happen to look like.  I’ve been getting several of these 3 year olds out of their large pots, (some of which would bloom in 3 years in pots) and into the garden over the last few days.  I did the same with a few things last year, and the results this spring were promising. I probably should be more patent, and wait to see what the rest of their siblings at the nursery look like, and then select the best of them to use, but at least I’ll have some of their genetics to use here at home *soon*, rather than waiting a few more years to get divisions back from the nursery.

Plant vigor is not always a positive though.  Many of these giant things will sprawl, and will be unable to hold their stems up. Rapid spring growth can apparently make them susceptible to botrytis as well.  But like any other seedling, sometimes they’ll have good plant habit too. I’m not sure that they always pass their vigor on to their seedlings, but for now it seems like a reasonable thing to experiment with, and over time I hope to cross these various “monsters” among themselves.

And then see what happens.

Still nice weather here thank goodness, as often it’s turned cold and ugly by now, so I’m trying to make the best of the time while we still have it.

Bob Johnson

2023, The Peony Society - https://www.peonysociety.eu

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