I just can not stop looking at (or taking pictures of) this Peony 'Julia Rose' plant this year. Every bloom on the plant is gorgeous. The colors of the petals are beautiful ombres of pink, orange, and coral. This intersectional Peony 'Julia Rose' was hybridized by Roger Anderson and does not yet seem to be registered. However this plant has been on the market for quite some time. This plant hold the flowers nicely above the foliage and the blooms are spaced evenly around the plant. The blooms open over a period of time, so you get to enjoy the blooms for a couple weeks. If you don't yet grow Intersectional Peony 'Julia Rose', it should definitely be on your list. You can find this peony for sale from several growers on my 2017 Intersectional Peony Catalog Price Comparison List. Good luck!
It was a hard week for my peonies, another week of dry, sunny weather (which makes for great peony photos!). However I can tell the flowers and stems are a bit sad and wishing for rain. Also it seems the foliage and flowers are smaller than usual. I don't think we've made up for our lack of rain in February, and so the ground is still a bit drier than normal. We are definitely down from the average amount of rainfall so far this year. Despite the challenges, the peonies still managed to show up with some amazing blooms. Take a look... I hope your early peonies are growing and blooming for you too! :-)
I finally found a bit of time to cut a few stems for the American Peony Society 2017 Convention. I've been so busy that I've almost let this slip away from me. Most of my early peonies have already opened and are too far past the point needed to cut them for the flower show. So I guess I won't be showing any Saunders hybrids this year. However my mid season peonies are starting to bloom as well as my intersectionals. So there are still several choices left to cut. If you are new to showing flowers and feel a little intimidated about it, don't worry. I made all the mistakes two years ago. Remember the steam bath many of my peony stems needed for my 2015 APS Convention Exhibit Peony Preparation?
Cut Peony Stems with Soft Buds
This year I am cutting the blooms a little less "hard" than I did last year. I guess I was worried if there were any petals showing the flowers would go bad, but now I've learned that if you cut the buds too small and hard, they just do not open. Also single flowers will open faster than double flowers. So you want to make sure your huge double flowered buds are mature enough when you cut them. As you can see this years cuts are a bit larger and showing a bit more petal than the cuts I did 2 years ago, 2015 Cut First Stems for APS Peony Exhibition. We'll see how it works out. Hopefully I don't get any more mold, and the blooms open well without a steam bath!
I'm not sure how, but somehow this week I have managed to get up early enough every day for the last week to get my pollen out of the freezer, go outside with a trash can, scissors, pollen, and bags/tags to work on hybridizing Peony 'Martha W.' - all before getting the kids ready and out the door for school/preschool and then getting myself ready for work! :-D I think my first failure - 2017 Intersectional Peony Hybridizing Failure - has made me even more determined to succeed.
Frozen Pollen and Bags for Protection
The weather has mostly cooperated. It has been quite dry now for a couple of weeks. Doing this hybridzing work to remove the petals and stamens and then applying a pollen to the stigmas for all these days in a row, and has made me come to appreciate the dry weather we've been having. I wouldn't want all of this pollen to just get washed right off! However the non-hybridizing, peony grower side of me keeps wishing for the rain!
First Day Peony Crosses Protected By Paper Bags
Many of the peonies in my garden are still growing leaves and flower buds and need additional moisture to grow well. The pollen I've been using is frozen from pollen I collected last year at the convention during the 2016 APS Peony Convention Tour of Solaris Farms. Nate Bremer very generously told all of his visitors that they were welcome to collect as much pollen as the would like. So I'm hoping that some of this tree peony pollen that has been frozen for one year is still good! Only time will tell.
Second Day Peony Crosses Protected By Sheer Bags
I have been keeping the pollinated blooms protected with a paper bag the first day and then a breathable, transparent bag the second day. I'm hoping this helps the pollination rates. Last year I used only the paper bags, and left them on the plant for much too long. I believe this had a negative impact on the number of fertilized seeds that were able to develop. Let hope this idea - sparked by Nate's mention that he was using cotton muslin bags as an experiment - will work!
I can't believe the intersectional peonies are already blooming! My early intersectional peonies all started blooming in shades of pinks, lavenders, and purples. However that color intersectional peonies are famous for - that rich, golden yellow has not yet appeared. I suppose the yellow intersectionals tend to bloom a bit later in the intersectional season. Peony 'First Arrival' was the first intersectional to bloom in my garden this year, a fitting name for this early intersectional. Peony 'Hillary' has been just gorgeous this year. This plant has really settled in and taken off. Peony 'Sonoma Amethyst' and Peony 'Morning Lilac' are both Southern Peony Best Performers, and they are both living up to their reputations this year as well. If you haven't started your intersectional peony collection yet, now's the time. I can't say enough good things about them! :-)
Wow! What a surprise to find this interesting animal in my peony bed this week. This peony had quite an interesting pattern on it with light and dark pink stripes that extend all the way down the petal. I don't think I've seen anything quite like it. It kind of reminds me of a pink zebra! So for now, I have nicknamed it Peony 'Pink Zebra'. I will definitely be moving this one to my peony seedling test bed to keep a closer eye on it next year. I am wondering if it will keep the stripes next year.
Pink Striped Petal Herbaceous Peony
I'm also wondering if it will be as floriferous as its mother, an unknown white peony that is the most floriferous peony I've ever grown! It was sold to me as Peony 'Seraphim', but obviously it is not. The APS Cultivar Registry for 'Seraphim' clearly states "Less tall than Chalice, with flowers not so huge. Abundant bloomer. White single. Earlier than Chalice." This peony is definitely an abundant bloomer and a white single form peony. However this plant blooms about 10 days later than 'Chalice'. Whoever it is, I hope its babies will inherit that floriferousness that fills that plant like their mother. I will be curious to see how many blooms appear on Peony 'Pink Zebra' in the next few springs!
Unknown White Floriferous Peony Peony 'Pink Zebra''s Mother
I have loved this peony, Peony 'Lustrous', for years now. It is just so hard to get a photo of the plant with several blooms on it all at once! The buds usually open over a period of time instead of all at one time. So you don't get a plant full of blooms effect with this peony variety. However the upside of that is that you get to enjoy them bloom by bloom over a period of time. As you can see two of the flowers have already opened and faded in this photo, several are open, and there are 6 big fat buds on it still waiting to open! Peony 'Lustrous' was hybridized by A. P. Saunders and registered in 1942. It is one of the standout peonies in my Saunders peony garden. It is beautiful for it rare, true red coloring, its early season, and its very full, semi-double flowers when most other herbaceous peonies opening at this time are single petaled blooms. If you haven't yet added Peony 'Lustrous' to your early blooming peony collection, now's the time, so you too can enjoy these luscious red peony blooms!