Paeonia anomala - anomala peony

The Finnish name of this peony refers to the Kola peninsula where it grows as a rarity. The first documented collection expeditions to the peninsula were made at the end of the 1800s by A.O. Kihlman (Kairamo) and J. Montell, who also brought seeds to Finland. The anomala peony was then divided from one garden to another, and plants were also reproduced at some nurseries. As a result, the anomala peony grows as a rarity in old gardens throughout the country. At the end of the 1900s, interest towards this spectacular and hardy natural perennial was reawakened in Finland. In other Western countries it is extremely rare.

The wild habitat of the anomala peony is immense, stretching from the Kola peninsula far into Siberia, and the Altai mountains in the south. From there, the gardening teacher Seija Lehtinen brought the seeds, canoeing on the Katun river back to civilization, and the Mustila Arboretum. The Altaic anomala peony is identical with our traitional perennial but the leaves and flowers open even earlier in spring due to the continental climate of its origin.

The anomala peony tolerates dividing, but does not require it. If it may grow undisturbed at the same spot it becomes showy and wide. The single, red, slightly nodding flowers open in early June. Occasional early hot spells accelerate the growth of the flowers and the show is over much too soon. In the autumn, if the weather permits, the leaves turn into a vivid red autumn colour at the end of the growth season.