Serious gardeners love a challenge, especially when it comes to zones, frost, temperatures and all that boring technical stuff.
Tell a serious plant lover that you can't grow one, and they'll buy two. Tell them it's too tropical or too temperate, and they'll test it. Tell them it's too difficult to grow, and they'll dream about it all night long. Gardeners love to push the envelope.
Peonies growing and blooming in Southern California is precisely one of these local challenges. Just this week I received reports from Kathleen and Katharine, two women who accepted the peony challenge. To my surprise, both reported success with a series of peonies called Itoh Hybrids.
Kathleen moved to north San Diego County several years ago from colder climates. She missed peonies terribly.
"On a whim last year I decided that I really wanted to have one of the new Itoh Peonies, just to enjoy its beautiful blooms," Kathleen said.