Ge Jin's Purple, Chinese tree peony
Name in Chinese and pin yin: 葛巾紫 Ge Jin Zi
Notable characteristics: Deep violet purple double blossoms. Very fragrant. A slow growing tree peony. Very rare.
We have previously sold this variety under the name "Purple Kudzu Scarf." While this is the literal translation of it's name, we have since learned that Ge Jin is the name of a peony fairy, whose story we relate below.
Cultivar group, hybridizer and year introduced: Central Plains cultivar group, this classical variety originates from the famous peony growing city of Luoyang, in Henan province.
Growth habit and size at maturity (10 years old): Low and spreading habit, grows to 2' tall and 3' wide. Relatively slow growing.
Flower form and size: Full double form, 5''.
Flower fragrance: Spicy-sweet, very fragrant.
Bloom time: Late season Chinese tree peony, in our USDA zone 6A garden, usually blooms in the last week of May.
Zone hardiness: Proven in USDA zones 4-9.
Plant size: 1 year old tree peonies have at least 1 woody stem and a proportional root system. This size plant will most likely flower its second spring in the ground.
When we ship: Order now for FALL 2017 shipping.
The story of Ge Jin and Yu Ban
Tradition tells that Chang Dayong, scholar and government official who lived in Luoyang, was much taken with tree peonies. Though his hometown was itself renowned throughout China as a center of peony cultivation, he once took a journey to the city of Heze, in Shandong province, to view the tree peonies in bloom. There, he stayed with a high ranking official who had gardens devoted to tree peonies. Chang spent days on end in these gardens, writing poems to honor the beauty of the tree peonies. During this time, unbeknownst to Chang, a peony fairy named, Gejin, was also in the garden. She was so overcome by Chang's adoration for the peonies, that she turned herself into a beautiful maiden so that she might marry Chang. Her transformation worked and shortly hereafter she married Chang. Her sister, Yuban, also a peony fairy, transformed herself into human form and married Chang's brother, Chang Daqi. Both couples soon had children and were happy beyond description.
Gradually, though, as the years passed, the Chang brothers thought back to how they had first met their wives and began to wonder if they might be fairies. They asked their wives what family they came from, and they would only say that their mother's name was Caoguo. Now worried, Chang Dayong hastened back to the the garden in Caozhou where had first met his wife. There he asked the lead gardener if he knew of any families in their area with a matriarch named Mrs. Caoguo. The old head gardener laughed at this and led Chang to a spectacular old tree peony. "This" the gardener said "is Mrs. Caoguo." Now convinced that his wife was indeed a peony fairy in disguise, he hurried back to his home. Confronting his wife, she admitted that she had been moved to marry him all those years ago by his love for the tree peonies. Chang Dayonh also told his brother that his wife, Yuban, was really a peony spirit. The two couples tried to live as before, but mistrust poisoned their relationships. It soon became intolerable for Yuban and Gejin to stay with their husbands. One day, when they could take it no longer, they transformed themselves back into peony spirits and flew into the clouds, leaving their husbands and children behind. As soon as their mothers disappeared, the two children also vanished. Needless to say, both Chang Dayong and Chang Daqi were heartbroken and stricken with grief. However, the next spring, in the spot were the two children has last been seen, two tree peonies grew. One, with purple blossoms, was named after its mother and is today know as 'Gejin's Purple.' The other had white blossoms, and is the cultivar 'Yuban's White.'