Friday, May 31, 2013

2013 American Peony Society Board Meeting

The American Peony Board meeting was attended by most members this year. I was the newest member, having been asked to replace a member that needed to resign his duties. We approved last year's meeting notes and treasury report. The board decided to approve $5,000 in funding to rejuvenate the American Peony Society web site. There are plans to add lots more pictures for all of the American Peony Society Gold Medal Winners, some other photo galleries, as well as update the layout to make the information more available and friendly to users. The APS also plans to communicate official press releases via its web site. Lore and I also discussed ways to survey our membership to find out what we could offer existing and potential future members as well. The 2013 APS Gold Medal Winner was also selected from 6 nominated peonies: Peony 'Cora Stubbs', Peony 'Diana Parks', Peony 'Eliza Lundy', Peony 'Lucky', Peony 'Mackinac Grand', and Peony 'Mahogany'. The president also announced plans to name a peony after a prominent person and peony lover at tomorrow's banquet, as well as potential future flower naming ceremonies. The location of next year's convention was announced as the Kingwood Center in Mansfield, OH.

2013 APS Peony Convention Longwood Garden Tour

Longwood Gardens Entrance

The 2013 American Peony Society Convention started today, and I arrived to the garden tour a little late since I had an early flight this morning. However Longwood Gardens was magnificent, and their staff took great care of me - arranging someone to transport me directly to my APS group who were enjoying the Longwood Gardens "Behind the Scenes" tour.
APS Convention Attendees Examining the Display Garden
APS Convention Attendees Listening to the Tour Guide

Lunch was in the Longwood Gardens' The Founders Room dining room, and it tasted fabulous. We dined on gourmet sandwiches, salad, pasta salad, fresh fruit, and brownies. Yum!

American Peony Society Lunch in Longwood Gardens' Founders Room

After lunch there was a bit of free time to explore the gardens before the APS Board Meeting. The gardens were awesome. There were endless views of open fields that made you want to just run and sing and play. There was a bell tower with harmonious chimes, a waterfall, a large display fountain, an almost endless conservatory, a topiary garden - the list goes on and on. An entire weekend is not enough time to explore the vastness of Longwood Gardens.

Longwood Gardens Fountain

The Longwood Garden "Peony Garden" was a bit of a disappointment since there were only tree peonies that were past their bloom season. Longwood Gardens did have 3 sections dedicated to herbaceous and intersectional peonies that were donated by the American Peony Society last fall. Surprisingly, many of these plants were in bloom! They also had several wonderful and more mature selections of some existing herbaceous peonies in their perennial border which were just gorgeous.

Me Exploring Longwood Gardens
(I Found the Purple Flowers!)

After the board meeting we enjoyed a "Taste of Philly" picnic dinner with Philly cheesesteak sandwiches and chips for the meal and baked goods and Hershey (PA) chocolate for dessert. All in all, Longwood Gardens is a great place, one I hope to visit again in the future. :-)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

2013 American Peony Society Convention Preparation

Wow, I can hardly believe that another peony bloom season is coming to an end. Also tomorrow I will be in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania for the 2013 American Peony Society Convention. It seems this spring has gone by so fast. There's been a lot to do this spring garden wise and life wise. So things have definitely been pretty busy. I am excited to get to the convention, though. I am curious to learn more about the DuPont family and their estate, museum, collections, art, and especially their gardens. I'm also excited to see all of my peony family, to hear the stories of their bloom season, see some of their favorite flowers from their gardens, and hopefully meet some new seedlings that may be introduced in future years. I'm also looking forward to the APS banquet, seed sale, and of course the APS auction! Hopefully some of you will be there too! :-)

Kennett Square, PA

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

2013 Peony Experiments - Intersectional Divisions Grow

I thought you might like an update on my intersectional peony divisions from my 2012 Peony Experiments - Intersectional Divisions. I was surprised to find last week, that even the division with no roots and old wood has started to grow!!! I am just amazed by this plant's earnestness and vitality. All of the divisions have really taken off. Peony 'Bartzella' has proven to be just a stellar plant in my garden. The tiny red growth from early spring in my 2013 Peony Experiments - Intersectional Divisions has turned into flourishing plants. One of these small divisions even has a flower bud on it! I have since given that one to my grandma, but the rest of them are doing great and still growing! I am also planning to donate another one of these Peony 'Bartzella' divisions to the 2013 American Peony Society Fundraiser Auction. So if you'd like a chance to bid on a stellar peony for Southern gardens, please join us at the 2013 American Peony Society Convention at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania!
Peony 'Bartzella' Divisions
with Small Roots Growing 4/12/2013
Peony 'Bartzella' Divisions
with Small Roots Growing 5/27/2013

Peony 'Bartzella' Division
with Tiny Roots Growing 4/12/2013
Peony 'Bartzella' Division
with Tiny Roots Growing 5/27/2013
Gave the Peony 'Bartzella' Plant on the Right to My Grandma

Peony 'Bartzella' Division with
No Roots Growing (New Wood)
Peony 'Bartzella' Division with
No Roots Not Growing (Old Wood)
Peony 'Bartzella' Division with
No Roots Growing (New Wood)
Peony 'Bartzella' Division with
No Roots Growing! (Old Wood)
Close Up of Peony 'Bartzella' Division with
No Roots Growing! (Old Wood)

Monday, May 27, 2013

2013 Peony Blooms Late - Week 6

This week, Week 6, has been a nice week as far as the weather goes. The rain was sprinkled with sunshine. However most of the peonies have bloomed by now. I think Week 4 and Week 5 were probably the height of my peony bloom season, which was nice since I hosted a baby shower for my brother and his wife last weekend. Lots of friends and family got to see my garden in bloom and everyone was asking what kind of flower they were and how they could grow them. It is always nice to share the love of peonies. They are just such a great plant and beautiful flower! Currently there are only a few plants that haven't opened yet, and some plants that still have some side buds opening. This is one advantage of peonies that have multiple buds per stem. Usually the multiple buds on one stem will open on different days, extending the bloom period of that peony variety. This is especially nice near the end of the bloom season when there are only a few blooms left and the season is almost over. You can still get some small flowers to enjoy or bring inside.
Peony 'Feather Top'
Peony 'Eden's Perfume'
Peony 'La Tendresse'
Peony 'Myra MacRae'

Friday, May 24, 2013

2013 Questions - Herbaceous, Itoh, or Tree Peony

I received this question from Tom in zone 9:
"Hello, Was wondering if you have heard from anyone in the Houston, Texas area (zone 9) that has had success with any of the three kinds of peonies: herbaceous, Itoh, or tree peony. I am experimenting with a couple tree peonies, as well as Festiva Maxima and Sarah Bernhardt. (their second year). Have not tried any of the Itoh's yet, but they are reputed to grow and bloom in zone 9 according to some sources. I had a Duchesse de Nemoir which bloomed for me this past March (10 big blooms) from a field run clump grown and dug in North Carolina. I am presuming it received some winter chill in Dec., early January before I planted it late January. Will see what it does next year since it is a blooming size clump. Any information would be appreciated."

Tree, Intersectional, or Herbaceous Peony

I personally have not spoken with anyone else in the Houston, Texas area. However I did find a question on the Texas A&M web site (which is pretty close to Houston) that seems to imply that some herbaceous peonies can grow there. "Q: Why doesn’t anyone grow peonies here? I just returned from Michigan and while perusing the photo album was reminded of how beautiful and bountiful the peonies are every spring. A: The summer is too hot for most peonies in our area. There are a few heirloom selections that will survive if they are planted in good soil in morning sun. [Note: do an internet search for heat tolerant Paeonia species]" So I feel quite confident that you can grow most peonies there. Herbaceous peonies are usually the least heat tolerant of the three types you mentioned. Tree peonies are generally considered to be the most heat tolerant, then intersectional (Itoh), and then herbaceous being the least heat tolerant. When planting your peonies I would make sure to plant the roots as close to the surface as possible in order to allow them to get as much winter chill as possible. I have had some herbaceous peonies stop blooming for me, only to start again the next spring after I had lifted their roots closer to the surface. It sounds like you are starting quite a collection of peonies. I would definitely recommend adding an intersectional peony as well. I have been very impressed with Peony 'Bartzella'. She is just such a stellar grower, very heat tolerant, loves the sun, multiplies rapidly once established, and divides well too. Also you may want to check out some of my other Southern Peony Best Performers for ideas on other plants that might do well for you. I would love to get a report on your peonies and some pictures too in the future. I would say first and foremost to be patient. Peonies take a long time to establish themselves initially. So give them some extra care and time to adjust to your growing climate. Once they feel at home, they will make a nice plant.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

2013 American Peony Society Fundraiser Auction

The American Peony Society Convention is coming up before you know it! I just paid my registration fee yesterday (and the late fee!) to attend. I'd already booked my travel months ago. I guess my registration just slipped through the cracks! Anyway I got an email asking for contributions for the American Peony Society Convention Fundraiser Auction. I am donating this beautiful Peony Topaz Sterling Silver Necklace for the auction, as well as a 'Bartzella' Peony, which is one of my Southern Peony Best Performers, for fall delivery. So if you'd like a chance to bid on one or both of these items or the myriad of other wonderful peonies and peony related stuff, I hope you'll join us at the 2013 American Peony Society Convention this year! I'd love to see you there!

Peony Topaz Sterling Silver Necklace

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

2013 Peony 'Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt' Best Performer - Week 5

My best performer this week was definitely Peony 'Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt'. I have always loved the shape of the blooms on this plant. They are so symmetrical, and the petals are so rounded and even, making a bloom that is very pleasing to the eye. The color of the petals is a lovely light pink. This peony is also an excellent grower in my southern climate, multiplying easily. This peony is also loaded with blooms, having multiple large full double flowers on each stem. These cloud like, cotton candy blooms are as lovely on the bush as they are in the vase. Peony 'Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt' was also selected as the American Peony Society Gold Medal winner in 1948 for "outstanding merit and excellence in all sections of the country". This selection has definitely proven true in this southern section of the country!

Peony 'Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt'
Southern Peony Best Performer

Peony 'Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt'
Southern Peony Best Performer

Monday, May 20, 2013

2013 Peony Blooms Late Mid - Week 5

Week 5 has been a challenging week for photos without my main camera and so much rainy and cloudy weather. I am going to apologize in advance for the quality of the pictures here. My main camera is currently not working, and I'm waiting on its replacement. In the meantime I am just using a point and shoot camera, unfortunately. All types of peonies continue to bloom, including intersectionals. Even with all of the rain, the incidence of botrytis blight has still been minimal this season, which is great news. The foliage on my peonies has never looked so healthy!
Peony 'Pink Derby'
Peony 'Bartzella'
Peony 'Top Brass'
Peony 'Westerner'

2013 Peonies and Too Much Rain

Wow! Take a look at this forecast! It is already raining today, lots! It also rained yesterday and the day before yesterday. This weather forecast is pretty much a death knell for my peony bloom season - rain for the next 5 days! The peonies have been holding up okay for the last 2 rainy days with some periods of part sun. However most of the full doubles are now open or opening up, and any double peony plant without the strongest of strong stems is laying on the ground or close to it! Wet mushy blooms do not make for good pictures. I guess that's just as well since my Nikon camera stopped working last week. I tried removing the bottom plate of the camera in an attempt to fix the shutter gear to no avail. So I have another camera body on order, and in the mean time I have been using my Canon point and shoot camera, with very sad results. I guess the only way to salvage this week will be to bring the peonies indoors. I have cut so many peony blooms this year for enjoyment inside and to decorate for our reception and my brother's baby shower. All of the cut peonies were very beautiful, and everyone who saw them was so impressed. So if you're facing a very wet week during your peony bloom season, cut away, and bring the joy and sweetness inside!

My 5 Day Weather Forecast

Saturday, May 18, 2013

2013 Southern Peony Best Performers

For the past couple of years now, I have been picking "Best Performers" for each week of my peony growing season. These are peonies that have just really impressed me with their blooms, their plant habit, and most importantly their ability to survive and thrive in my hot southern climate. So I've decided to collect all of this information into one place so that visitors can easily find my Southern Peony Best Performers. Also the great thing about picking a peony for each week of the growing season is that home gardeners can not only find great plants that will grow in their climate, but they can also find great plants that bloom during certain time periods so they can extend their blooming season. I will be dedicating a new Best Performers page to this endeavor that can be found on the main menu. If you are also a southern gardener and have a peony that is simply stunning in your garden, please contact me. I'm always interested in growing and evaluating new varieties that perform well.
Southern Peony Best Performer
Southern Peony Best Performer

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

2013 Peony 'Kansas' Best Performer - Week 4

Peony 'Kansas' is usually an okay plant in my garden, being sometimes susceptible to botrytis blight. However this year, it is really a beauty. Without any long periods of rain in the early peony growing season (when the foliage is first developing) botrytis blight has really been reduced this year throughout my garden. This has given Peony 'Kansas' an excellent opportunity to shine. The blooms are just huge, and even though some the blooms nod a bit, they are not on the ground by any means. So the stems on this plant are really strong because the size of these flowers are just enormous! The number of petals on these very full double peonies is almost unbelievable. Also you can't beat the color of these blooms, a clear dark fuchsia pink, which really stands out in the garden. Peony 'Kansas' is also an American Peony Society Gold Medal Winner from 1957.

Peony 'Kansas'
Southern Peony Best Performer

Peony 'Kansas'
Southern Peony Best Performer

Monday, May 13, 2013

2013 Peony Blooms Mid - Week 4

This week Mid season Week 4, the intersectional peonies continued to bloom along with some anemone, single, and semi-double type peonies. Several of the very full double peonies just began to open this week. The weather has been beautiful this week. There has been quite a bit of rain, but I think it came late enough in the peonies' development so that most of the foliage is already up and more mature and resistant to disease. So, happily, the incidence of botrytis blight has been much reduced this year. With the increased rain this week, I have noticed an increased incidence of botrytis blight on some very late peonies whose foliage is just beginning to break ground. However most of my peonies are up and doing great! Hopefully the reduced incidence of disease will lead to stronger plants that can store plenty of energy this year, which should lead to bigger plants and more blooms next year!
Peony 'Sonoma Amethyst'
Peony 'Gay Paree'
Peony 'Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt'
Peony 'White Emperor'

Sunday, May 12, 2013

2013 Mother's Day Peonies at Juniper Level

This year for Mother's Day, my daughter and I went to Juniper Level Botanic Garden. We've been there several times before, but it is always nice to see how things change and grow each year and in different growing seasons. They are only open 8 times per year, two weekends per season. I thought some time at the botanic garden would be a nice way to spend Mother's Day. We had a great time. They always have all kinds of paths, bridges, waterfalls, gazebos, ponds, garden benches, streams, rocking chairs, garden art, and of course all kinds of plants! We did find a peony or two. I did find one solid pink outer and center anemone type peony they had planted that was labeled Paeonia 'White Cap', and it is nowhere near the correct color of a 'White Cap' peony. I guess small gardeners are not the only ones to get mislabeled peony plants! Also they did have the Plant Delights Nursery greenhouses open as well. However all of the choice peony varieties had already sold out since this was the last day of the 2nd weekend of their spring weekend open house. I guess you have to go early if you want to buy something specific. I was happy just to walk around, traverse the trails, and watch my daughter happily spin her skirt and lead the way in the gardens! Happy Mother's Day!

Juniper Level Botanic Garden

Saturday, May 11, 2013

2013 First Peony Seedling Develops Immature Bud

Sorry to say that the First Peony Seedling with Developing Bud grown from seed in my garden has become an immature bud. This also happens sometimes on divisions that don't have quite enough energy saved up in their storage roots to develop a mature bud. This may have been the case for my new seedling as well. As you can see the bud has turned from green to red, and will gradually shrivel and dry up. Developing buds will stay green and slowly increase in size. Sometimes you just have to wait another year to see your peony's beautiful face. However with another year of growth, your peony should hopefully have the chance to develop even stronger roots in order to grow even larger the next year with (hopefully!) a nice blossom. :-)

Peony Seedling with Immature Bud

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

2013 Peony Single White Best Performer - Week 3

I don't think I can say enough about this peony to convey its value in the garden. However it's true identity remains a mystery to me. I originally purchased it from Gilbert H. Wild in 2007 as Peony 'Seraphim'. However after doing some research, it is definitely not 'Seraphim'. I took a look at Gilbert H. Wild's current catalog, and they only have 3 single peonies offered this year. It's definitely not Peony 'Isani-Gidui' or Peony 'Krinkled White', as these are mid and mid-late season peonies. This unknown variety is definitely early. So the only one it might be from this year's offerings is Peony 'Silver Shell'. I am tempted to order one of these roots for comparison purposes, but I'm quite sure that Gilbert H. Wild would just send me yet another mislabeled peony. I think they just pull their plants at random to fill orders! I will have to check out their catalog in future years for other possible identities. Anyway this particular peony is just stellar. It blooms for weeks, with a multitude of blossoms that are long lasting and gorgeous. The foliage is a lovely dark green, very tall and full. It is also very fertile, producing lots of seed. This peony has loads of buds per stem. So the blooms just keep coming and coming! If you have any ideas about this peony's true identity, I'm open to suggestions! :-)

Peony - Single White (Unknown)
Southern Peony Best Performer

Monday, May 6, 2013

2013 Peony Blooms Early Mid - Week 3

Early Mid season Week 3 blooms are becoming more interesting than the Peony Blooms Early - Week 2 with some anemone types blooming as well as the intersectional (Itoh) types beginning to bloom. The weather has been much more cloudy this week and a little wetter. The temperatures have cooled and normalized back to spring as well, from their brief encounter with summer. However the lack of sunshine has made getting some gorgeous sunlit photos challenging at best. It looks like it is going to be rainy and cloudy for the better part of next week too. The foliage on all of my peonies has been pretty much disease free so far this year. I'm curious to see how the rain will affect the foliage and the spread of foliar diseases next week. I'm sure the blooms will be gorgeous anyway!
Peony 'Rose Garland'
Peony 'Pastel Splendor'
Peony 'White Cap'
Peony 'Morning Lilac'

Saturday, May 4, 2013

2013 Questions - Marvin Karrels' 1975 APS Peony Medal

I received this question from Tracy in zone 5:
"Hello Adriana, I ran across your blog regarding the metal you found on Etsy which was awarded to Marvin Karrels in 1975. My husband and I purchased Marvin Karrels' house last year in Greenfield,WI. This house he grew all of his award winning peonies at. We still have the garden today. We have yet to identify the many different kinds available and have been told there are many exotic and genetically altered peonies. We have never taken care of this beautiful flower before so we are trying to research care info before spring arrives. Our neighbors have talked so highly about the flowers Marvin grew and made it clear that these 75 yr old flowers need to be taken care of and need to remain on the property. :) We are very excited to see what blooms and how beautiful this will be. We have approx 50 some plants! In addition to caring for the peonies, we have intentions to maintain and restore what we can in this beautiful house he built his family back in 1937. I have been researching Marvin and his family to learn more. Finding the award metal on Etsy is amazing and I'm very curious to know if you found out how this person had the coin to sell? According to the Society, Marvin won 7 metals for his amazing peonies. I would love to put this metal where it was earned. If you are interested in parting from this metal, please let me know."

Marvin Karrels' 1975 American Peony Society Medal

How exciting to purchase the home of a great former peony enthusiast, Marvin Karrels. You must be enthralled in watching his peonies grow and bloom this season. I would love to see some pictures and would be happy to publish some of them on my blog if you'd like to send some in. At this time I am not interested in parting with the APS Medal, but I will keep your information in case my plans change in the future. I am a member of the American Peony Society and intend to preserve the medal for the club, as well as take it to the convention for display. If you are interested in attending the 2013 APS Convention to learn more about peonies and the APS in general, I would love to meet you and learn more about Marvin Karrels and his peonies and fine home. If you have some pictures of the restoration work you've been completing, I would love to see those too! Also I did ask the Etsy seller if the coin was real and how he had come to acquire it. This was his response: "Hi Adriana- it is real, I bought it at a coin and token estate. That's about all I know about it. Thanks! Bill" Good luck with your home and peony garden restoration plans!!!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

2013 Peony 'Honor' Best Performer - Week 2

Peony 'Honor' has been a great performer for me for several years now. You just can't beat this plant's combination of an abundance of early blooms, a neat habit, and the knockout color. Peony 'Honor' blooms quite early here, and is the first in its color range to open for me. The color on this plant is gorgeous, a bright pink that fades into various paler shades as the blooms mature, making an interesting show with various pink color combinations. The plant's foliage is on the petite side, usually growing only about 24" tall. The blooms are well centered on the plants and the stems are close together. Although the foliage on Peony 'Honor' is not large, its stems are upright and close together, not spreading or falling over. If you're looking for an early season peony that performs well in a southern climate, Peony 'Honor' is definitely a very honorable pick!

Peony 'Honor'
Southern Peony Best Performer

Peony 'Honor'
Southern Peony Best Performer