Molly the Witch

By March 22nd things were beginning to happen in the front border that showed that Molly was on the move once more. The “molly” I’m referring to is Paeonia mlokosewitschii, commonly known as Molly the Witch. When the leaves first break through the soil, they are the most beautiful burgundy colour.

Hellebore with M-the-W

The foliage of Molly, matched exactly, the colour of the backs of the sepals on the hellebore planted in front, I think I forgot this when I planted the hellebore.

10 days later

Just 10 days later the foliage is already opening out and showing the touches of green/grey that the leaves will end up.


Just 6 days later and what a difference in growth and colour. Buds have formed and are looking very promising.

Flower buds

While we were away on holiday, the buds grew and the first hints of yellow could be seen.


10 days later, the first flower opened, thank goodness we were back in time to see it!


Once again we are able to enjoy the beautiful pale yellow flowers of this lovely plant. I’ve noticed over the years that the flowers close when the weather is cold or wet, protecting the pollen inside – clever.

Fully open

Getting paler and paler as the days go by…….

Beautiful Molly

………so pale now but so very beautiful.

Molly with forget me nots

I’m not sure how long the flowers will last now that we are having one or two sunny days with quite a bit of wind, but it has been the first plant that I have looked at each morning for quite some time now. Molly hasn’t finished yet, eventually her seed pods will open and the seeds will be bright fuchsia pink or black, depending on whether they are viable or not, only the black ones will be  worth saving.




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26 Responses to Molly the Witch

  1. What a beautiful transformation Molly the Witch makes, from dark leaves to pale flowers. The Helleborus and newly emerged peony foliage make a wonderful combination of purple colours. Then the pastel yellow flowers of the peony start a completely different pretty colour scheme.

    • Pauline says:

      She is lovely in all her stages isn’t she NS, I think my favourite peony!The newly emerging leaves keep me fascinated as they change shape and colour over the weeks, then such beautiful flowers to round it off, amazing!

  2. debsgarden says:

    Wow! I really enjoyed seeing Molly the Witch through the different stages. The emerging shoots next to the hellebore is a wonderful if serendipitous combination. I also think the blooms are totally charming. Most peonies don’t do well this far south, but my heart wants to try!

    • Pauline says:

      Deb, I have to be honest it was a complete fluke that the purple colours match so well, I had forgotten about the colour of the early shoots when I planted the hellebore, a happy accident. Maybe if you planted Molly in dappled shade she wouldn’t get too hot in your summers, where she comes from originally, the Caucasus Mountains, they grow in shade. I tried her in shade here knowing this, but she has only flourished since I put her in the sunshine, she’s not likely to get too hot here!

  3. Liz says:

    Hi Pauline,

    Lovely bloom indeed! I do hope she lasts a little longer for you, but Peony blooms are always too short-lived!

    • Pauline says:

      I’ve noticed Liz, with Molly that she shuts her petals if it is cold or raining, I imagine to keep the pollen dry, this way the flowers last a long time as long as it isn’t too hot, not much chance of that at the moment!!

  4. Cathy says:

    What a fascinating transformation – imagine if you were able to do a time lapse video sequence of it …. The leaves in the first picture look like pink raffia, don’t they?!

    • Pauline says:

      It is amazing isn’t it Cathy, such a change, a time lapse video would be super, such a transformation from purple to grey/green. I went back and had a look at the first leaves and you’re right, they do look like raffia.

      BTW I’m having problems with WordPress at the moment, I’ve tried to leave a message a few times about Firelight but no joy, they won’t accept it!

  5. Wendy says:

    How fascinating to watch Molly’s transformation through the growth and blooming stages. She’s a very striking flower!

  6. pbmgarden says:

    Enjoyed seeing the various stages of growth. Love the pale yellow of this beauty.

    • Pauline says:

      She is lovely at every stage Susie, a real wow plant! The flowers are about 5 inches across and so beautiful, but will they stand up to the wind?

  7. What a beautiful plant – at every stage. I must get one. Dave

    • Pauline says:

      Thanks David, I’m glad I persevered with her, this is her third spot in the garden and straight away she looked so much happier! Do try her if you can, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

  8. Gitte says:

    What a wondeful transformation. Truly amazing colours of both leaves and flower.

    • Pauline says:

      Even though the flowers don’t last very long Gitte, the plant is interesting as soon as it starts to grow in early spring, I just love the burgundy shade of the new leaves!

  9. I love peonies, and Molly looks beautiful with her pale blooms. She looks great against your Forget-Me-Nots too.

    • Pauline says:

      Molly is a lovely peony Paula and the flowers such a delicate shade of pale yellow. I think forget me nots make anything look even better!

  10. Christina says:

    Lovely Pauline, it is great to have a special plant to visit every day! Christina

  11. kininvie says:

    I wish I could grow proper peonies – mine are always pretty feeble. I put it down to the soil, but maybe it’s just that I don’t have time to look after them properly.

    • Pauline says:

      Kininvie, mine are so neglected, I always feel that they are one of the plants that can look after themselves, they get no extra treatment at all. They don’t like being buried too deep, just an inch if that, of soil over their roots, mine were pathetic until I realised that.

  12. wellywoman says:

    How incredible that those stunning pale yellow flowers appear from a plant with those colour leaf buds. There is something a little sinister about them when they first appear. I love peonies but they are so short lived I can’t really justify having them in my garden when space is so tight. They are such gorgeous plants though.

    • Pauline says:

      How strange WW, I’ve never thought the leaves as sinister, I’m just so thrilled that they have started growing again. I will admit that the flowering time is rather shorter than other plants, but from the leaves emerging to the fantastic seed heads, I feel they give months of interest and certainly earn their place in the garden.

  13. Anna says:

    What an absolutely beguiling plant Pauline from those gloriously flushed early leaves through to flowering. Did you grow her from seed and what does she looks like as she ages? The forget-me -nots are the perfect companion.

    • Pauline says:

      No Anna, I bought her as a small plant, it has taken quite a few years for her to reach this size, possibly because I moved her twice before finding that she needs a bit of sunshine. In her native habitat, in the Caucasus mountains, she grows in woodland, but maybe they have much higher temperatures than we do! The strong winds that we have had lately have blown all the petals away and the seed pods are left which will eventually split to show the seeds, it is interesting from the moment the leaves first pierce the soil.

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