Saturday, November 19, 2011

2011 Fall Peony Bloom for My Granny

My great grandmother, Ruth Hill, died this week. She was a loving and patient woman that serves as a great inspiration for me and many others. I cut the fall peony bloom from the 'Yellow Crown' peony today to lay on her casket. May the light from this golden peony bloom be a reminder to us of the light and love and warmth she shone upon us all. I love you, Granny.
Peony 'Yellow Crown'

Peony 'Yellow Crown'

Peony 'Yellow Crown' & Dead Fall Peony Foliage

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

2011 Fall 'Yellow Crown' Peony Bloom

Wow, I am really enjoying my first ever fall peony bloom! It is so beautiful, and it is so much fun to watch it unfold. It seems like it takes forever for the bloom to open! I guess it takes a little more patience for fall peony blooms, but the upside is probably that the blooms will last longer than they do in the spring. Oh, and the scent is heavenly, a sweet and strong floral peony scent. I wonder if the fragrance lasts longer in the fall as well? Hmm... I sure hope this repeats, and is not just a chance occurrence. :-)
Fall Bloom on Peony 'Yellow Crown'

Fall Bloom on Peony 'Yellow Crown'

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

2011 Peony Fall Foliage Colors

The fall colors on the peonies this year are amazing! We've had a bit of a late fall, and the foliage has lasted a little longer than usual this year. Several varieties have long since gone dormant for the year, but there are so many more that are still going and keeping me entertained with their colors this season. From golden bronzes, to brilliant reds, and bright green to lime green, the peonies seem to have all the beautiful colors of fall. Here's a small sampling of the beauty of peonies in the fall...
Peony 'Sequestered Sunshine'
Peony 'Morning Lilac'
Peony 'Seashell'
Peony 'Queen of the Dawn'

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

2011 Fall Peony Bloom

What to my wondering eyes did appear, but a golden bloom on an intersectional peony! In November! Wow, that's definitely a first for me. I had noticed that this particular intersectional peony (Peony 'Yellow Crown') would send out new foliage in late summer for the past couple years, but this year it sent out new foliage and a bloom! Could this be just one of nature's flukes or perhaps the future of a new line of reblooming peonies? This is really exciting. Here's a picture from the plant today, November 8th. I will have to monitor this plant to see what happens with it next year! As you can see below, Peony 'Bartzella' (planted on the left) is nearing the end of its season, and its foliage is starting to look a bit ratty. However the foliage on Peony 'Yellow Crown' (planted on the right) looks brand new because this is its second set of foliage for the season. Its first set of foliage for the year has already died back. More pics to come...
Peony 'Yellow Crown'

Peony 'Bartzella' & Peony 'Yellow Crown'

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

2011 Peony Kincaid Garden Markers and Labels

I planted my peonies a week ago, although I realized I had run out of plant markers for them. For the last few years I have been using Kincaid Gardens 100% Stainless Steel Plant Markers, and they have been awesome. They don't rust, are very sturdy, and definitely last longer than any other plant markers I've tried. So last week I put temporary labels on the new peony plantings, and today I'm replacing them with the Kincaid Gardens plant markers that I just received in the mail this week. They are definitely more expensive than other plant markers, but they also last! Here's a link to their site if you're interested... Kincaid Gardens I also use Brother P-Touch Extra Strength Adhesive Tape for printing the peony labels, which also last for years. I haven't had any of those fade or peel yet, and I've been using those for a few years now as well. Happy planting!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

2011 Fall Peony Orders

Last minute! I guess you get whatever's left when you order last minute. There were several varieties I wanted to order, but have now sold out. I think there was only one variety sold out of those I was interested in when I looked last month. So I thought it would be okay to wait another month. I guess everyone else did too! So these are my final selections for my fall peony order this year. I really like the color and center on Peony 'Ann Berry Cousins'. Peony 'Carina' and Peony 'Nova' are both selections from hybridizer A.P. Saunders and will go in my Saunders peony garden. Peony 'Border Charm' and Peony 'Cream Delight' are both somewhat yellow in color which is a rare color for peonies. Peony 'Buckeye Belle' is an American Peony Society Gold Medal Winner. So all of these flowers should make excellent additions to my collection...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

2011 Fall Is For Peony Planting!

So I got a copy of the Fall 2011 Creative Ideas magazine in the mail from Lowe's home improvement store. There was a page about fall being the optimum time to plant, and peonies were listed as one of their suggested plants (which I think is awesome). However they described peonies as "old-fashioned flowers". I can't decide if this is a good thing or a bad thing as far as publicity for the flower is concerned. There are many varieties of modern peonies and loads more colors to choose from than what people think of as the traditional "old-fashioned" peony varieties i.e. pink, red, and white double style herbaceous peonies. I guess "old-fashioned" could also mean that they can stand the test of time, but I'm not sure that's the idea most people would get from that adjective. The magazine also suggests that peonies be planted in "rich soil with the crowns 2 inches below the soil." However if you plant your peony like that here in NC (which interestingly enough is where Lowe's home improvement is based) you may not get any blooms. I plant all of my peonies with the crowns right at soil level. When I first tried to grow my own peonies, I followed the directions on the box that my peony came in. (I know, I know, the box was a bad sign, but I didn't know that back then.) The box said to plant the root 3-4 inches below the soil. That poor peony. There was never even a chance it would create a bud. It was fighting just to get leaves up to the light! It grew several years and the number of stems slowly increased, but never a bud! Anyway, I guess it's good that peonies are being advertised as one of "the" plants to plant in the fall. I guess I should get busy...

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

2011 Gold Medal Peony Performance

I've been growing a "Gold Medal" peony garden for a few years now. The peonies that I grow in this garden are American Peony Society Gold Medal Recipients. So this year I decided to do an evaluation of the varieties that I grow. I don't grow all of the Gold Medal varieties (there are over 50 of them, of which I grow 30). So I'll just evaluate some of the varieties I do have. According the APS web site, the criteria for awarding the Gold Medal is, "The criteria for recent years was written to emphasize qualities important to most of the peony growing public, which included availability, dependable performance, the absence of the need for mechanical support, good plant habit and good foliage throughout the growing season and reasonably priced in relation to its variety and originator."
Sturdiest (Not Needing Support) - Peony 'Bartzella'

Best Foliage - Peony 'Old Faithful'

I think in my climate (and of the APS Gold Medal peonies that I grow), Peony 'Bartzella' and Peony 'Old Faithful' take the cake. Both of their blooms are gorgeous, plus they stay great looking well into late summer. Peony 'Bartzella' is an intersectional peony and has lovely giant yellow blooms. Peony 'Old Faithful' is of a much smaller stature, but grows beautifully and has red blooms of a color that is hard to find.

Floppiest (Needs Support) - Peony 'Myra MacRae'

Peony 'Myra MacRae' is one of the floppiest peonies I have ever grown. If you want this one to grow without lying on the ground, you'll definitely need supports. Peony 'Salmon Dream' and Peony 'Many Happy Returns' both have foliage that disappears. However I think the blooms on Peony 'Salmon Dream' make up for its foliage, and early dieback is expected as with most peonies with a coral color. However Peony 'Many Happy Returns' really disappoints. Its flowers are nice, but the foliage is always diseased and dies back way too early for a peony of this color. This is a recently honored APS Gold Medal winner (2007) which really mystifies me, considering one of the qualifications for the APS Gold Medal is "good plant habit and good foliage throughout the growing season", which this flower does not seem to possess, at least in my southern climate...
Worst Foliage (Dieback)
Peony 'Salmon Dream'
Worst Foliage (Dieback, Disease)
Peony 'Many Happy Returns'

Monday, August 29, 2011

2011 The Peony & the Praying Mantis

The Peony & the Praying Mantis. It sounds like the title of a book. Hmm... Anyway I was working on collecting more data for 2011 in my peony garden today, and I was thrilled to see a praying mantis on one of my long spent peony blooms. The spent bloom and the praying mantis were the exact same color, dark brown, so the mantis blended in with the bloom stem quite nicely. He definitely kept me entertained for bit in what otherwise can be at times a somewhat dull task. I was privileged to witness these praying mantis acrobatics so I just had to share... :-)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

2011 Peony Experiments - Intersectional Blooms

I think I read somewhere that intersectional peonies would not bloom on old wood, and that the old stems must be cut down every year in order to get blooms. Somehow this did not ring true to me, and I wanted to find out for myself. So for the last 2 years I have left some of the old wood on my intersectional peony 'Bartzella'. The first year I didn't get any blooms on the old wood, but this year I did. Considering that intersectional peonies are merely a cross between herbaceous and tree peonies, and tree peonies bloom on woody stems, it makes sense that intersectional peonies could bloom on their woody stems as well. Perhaps the climate the intersectional peony is growing in will make a difference. I could see how the woody stems of the intersectional peony may not be as cold hardy as the woody stems of the traditional tree peonies. However for my zone 7 southern climate, intersectional peonies can definitely bloom on their woody stems from the previous year.
Peony 'Bartzella'

Peony 'Bartzella'

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

2011 Peony Statistics & Data

I spent some time in my garden today, and boy is it hot out there! I was inspired to gather some data on my peonies. So I printed out a listing of all of my varieties, got my clipboard and pen, and got to work. I gathered some additional data on the colors of the peony blooms earlier in the season when the flowers were still in full bloom. Today I collected data on stem and bud counts. This will help me keep track of which peonies are increasing nicely and blooming successfully in my southern climate. I plan to post this data online to help everyone out there who wants to grow peonies in the south when I've collected enough of it to analyze and trend. I also plan to review peony foliage and diseases soon, so keep an eye out for that!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

2011 Peony for Mother's Day

I can hardly believe the peony bloom season is pretty much over here. It went by so fast this year. The blossoms were so beautiful for Mother's Day. Here is a bouquet I cut for Mother's Day this year. Guess which one my mom selected as her favorite? That's right. The yellow one, Peony 'Bartzella', and what a beautiful blossom it is. Actually it's pretty much the only peony in my collection that is still in bloom today. So not only does Peony 'Bartzella' have a rare form and color, but it also has an extended bloom season! Awesome!
Mother's Day Peony Bouquet

Mom with Peony 'Bartzella'

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

2011 Intersectional Peony Blooms

Well another Intersectional Peony bloomed for me this year, and I was ecstatic. This variety is called Peony 'Singing in the Rain', and wow is it fantastic! The blooms are a peachy yellow color, one you won't find in herbaceous peonies. The color range of the petals is awesome. They range from yellow to almost coral and make for a beautiful blossom. See for yourself...
Peony 'Singing in the Rain'

Peony 'Singing in the Rain'

Monday, April 25, 2011

2011 Peony Propagation

I went to the Carolina spring plant swap this weekend. I got lots of nice plants, but there was only 1 peony there. I guess it inspired me to get some peonies together for the next plant swap. If we want to spread the joy of peonies, it is the responsibility of us peony lovers to share what we have with others. In past years I have brought peony roots to the fall swap. Next time I will be sharing peony plants. Here are a few of the seedlings I potted up yesterday so that I can bring them to the next plant swap. So if you love peonies share them! Give a seedling to a neighbor or a piece of your root to your friend or family member! Help us grow the love of peonies!

Monday, April 18, 2011

2011 Heaven on a Peony Flower

Wow! I just went out in my garden this afternoon, and I saw it. Heaven on a flower! Peony 'Lavender' is actually in bloom in MY garden!!! I have been wanting this peony for quite some time, and it is beautiful. I planted it in the Fall of 2009, and this is the first spring it has bloomed with 3 blossoms - well worth the wait. It also seems to be growing quite well in this climate.

Peony 'Lavender'
Peony 'Lavender'

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Great Peony Massacre of 2011

So today I was cleaning up my peonies (late again, I know!), and I actually chopped off one of their heads. If you look at the pink bud in the middle of the picture, you'll notice that it has been decisively severed from its root. So here's the lesson for all of you. If you haven't cut down all of last year's peony stems yet, do it now before this year's stems and blooms are sacrificed. Don't wait too long so that you can prevent unnecessary bud loss. :-)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

2011 Peonies on Ice

Well, I have heard of some extreme peony enthusiasts putting ice on their peonies in rather warm growing zones, like zones 9 and 10, in order to encourage their peonies to bloom. I guess they are trying to meet the required number of chilling hours needed to develop the blooms. I've never tried that myself, but last night Mother Nature put my peonies on ice. I think this has been the coldest and most snowy fall and winter that I can remember. I am really curious to see how this cold weather will affect the peonies in the spring...