Friday, April 29, 2016

2016 Peony 'Sonoma Amethyst' Best Performer - Week 4

Peony 'Sonoma Amethyst' was hybridized by Irene Tolomeo and registered in 2001. So in the world of peonies, it is fairly new. However, with its unique coloring and numerous side buds, this plant is rapidly becoming a favorite garden specimen. This peony is a consistent performer growing larger and larger each year, with more and more blooms each year too! I am in love with the color - the clearest lavender colored peony in my garden. Peony 'Sonoma Amethyst' is even more lavender than Peony 'Lavender'! Also see all of those gorgeous lavender colored side buds on the plant? Those are more blooms that haven't even opened yet! This peony just keeps blooming and blooming! So if you like any shade of purple or lavender and you want to keep the blooms coming, Peony 'Sonoma Amethyst' is definitely a must have!

Peony 'Sonoma Amethyst'
Southern Peony Best Performer

Peony 'Sonoma Amethyst'
Southern Peony Best Performer

Thursday, April 28, 2016

2016 Intersectional Peony Blooms Mid - Week 4

The intersectional peonies have really started to open this week. These peonies have a much more limited range of bloom times. While this is Week 4 of peony blooms in general, this is only Week 2 of the intersectional peony blooms. Something good to work on in intersectional peony hybridizing would be to expand the bloom time range of the intersectional group. Here is a group of pretty pastel colored intersectional peony blooms that were my favorite this week. Peony 'Keiko' is a Southern Peony Best Performer 2015 Peony 'Keiko' (Adored) Best Performer - Week 4, and she blew me away again this year! Peony 'Copper Kettle' really hit its stride this year, developing many bright copper orange colored blooms. Peony 'Callie's Memory' bloomed for me the first time this year, and has a pleasing combination of pastel colored shades, opening a pale peach. Peony 'White Emperor' has made a huge plant covered in giant white colored blooms - a rare color for intersectional hybrids!
Intersectional Peony
'Keiko' 愛幕 (Adored)
Intersectional Peony
'Copper Kettle'
Intersectional Peony
'Callie's Memory'
Intersectional Peony
'White Emperor'

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

2016 Peony Blooms Mid - Week 4

The peonies are really getting going this week. There are so many varieties opening. Here is a selection of my favorites this week. We got some rain after a dry spell, and the foliage and flowers look lovely. Likely due to our confusing spring warm up then cool down, some early season peonies are opening a bit later this year in the mid season. Peony 'Lavender is always one of my favorites because of its unique color. Peony 'Pink Kisses' and Peony 'Mahogany' are both new to my garden this spring, and they are both lovely Peony 'Mahogany' being the 2015 American Peony Society Gold Medal Winner. However, 'Pink Kisses' blooms are very impressive. Peony 'Golden Frolic' is always a very attractive plant both in flowers and in its 2016 Colorful Spring Peony Foliage.
Peony 'Lavender'
Peony 'Pink Kisses'
Peony 'Golden Frolic'
Peony 'Mahogany'

Peony 'Lovely Rose' usually blooms a bit earlier. However, it is always lovely in my garden as a Southern Peony Best Performer 'Lovely Rose', and it did superbly again this year. Peony 'Cream Delight' has a lovely elegant and timeless bloom with a nice hint of cream to the petals. I just love the shape of Peony 'Green Lotus' and Peony 'Pink Spritzer'. They both grow so well in my garden, and the petal and blooms last much longer than any other peonies in my garden. They hold their petals, and the blooms will still be on the plant weeks later. So as more and more blooms open, they just increase in number instead of a turnover where some blooms fall off over time (like most other peonies).
Peony 'Lovely Rose'
Peony 'Cream Delight'
Peony 'Green Lotus'
Peony 'Pink Spritzer'

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

2016 $20 Tree Peonies on Ebay from Hirt's Gardens

Tree Peony 'Hanakisoi' 花競 (Floral Rivalry)

I couldn't resist buying one of each of these $20 tree peonies on Ebay from Hirt's Gardens, Tree Peony 'Hanakisoi' 花競 and Tree Peony 'Houki' ('Hoki') 芳紀. Unfortunately some of the tree peonies I've purchased in the past on Ebay (from different sellers) were not the variety advertised. (Ebay peony seller's reviews still to come!) However, after receiving these, I could recognize immediately upon receipt that these were much better quality and seemed to be packed in a professional environment. Both of these are Japanese tree peony cultivars. They appear to be imported from overseas, and they come with a high quality garden tag with a nice color photo on it. So hopefully these tree peonies will be true to name. There are still a few left if you're interested in getting one or both of them at this awesome price point. Also the combined shipping for both of these together was only around $12.50 (about $6 each). You just can't beat that price point! If you are looking to expand your tree peony collection or get one started (like me), these tree peonies may be just what you're looking for!

Tree Peony 'Houki' ('Hoki') 芳紀 (Charming Age)

Sunday, April 24, 2016

2016 Colorful Spring Peony Foliage

Purple Spring Peony Foliage
Peony 'Garden Peace'

Wow! I can hardly believe Week 3 of my peony blooms season is over, and we're already half way through our peony bloom season here. While we're still in the early part of the season, I wanted to share one more reason to grow peonies (besides the blooms) - the gorgeous colors of peonies spring foliage! I know I've already mentioned the Beautiful Fall Peony Foliage Colors. However, I have not before mentioned their gorgeous spring foliage colors - purples, yellow greens, reds, and multi colors.

Yellow Green Spring Peony Foliage
Peony 'Golden Frolic'

Red Spring Peony Foliage
Peony 'Topeka Garnet'

If you don't yet grow Peony 'Garden Peace', you will soon find out that the uniqueness of its purple toned spring foliage far outweighs its numerous heavenly white single blooms. The leaves are large with good substance, and the bush multiplies well here in the South. Peony 'Golden Frolic' is known for both it's beautiful fall foliage, and its blossoms are some of the most attractive source of food for bees in my garden. However, the eye popping spring foliage is just one more reason to grow Peony 'Golden Frolic'. Not only is Peony 'Topeka Garnet' a 2012 American Peony Society Gold Medal Winner, the redness of its spring foliage will blow you away. From blooms, to the spring foliage, to the stigmas, this peony had red down! Peony 'Lovely Rose' has not only lime green spring foliage, but also contrasting red stems. When those multicolored stems pop open you'll get a nice coral pink surprise! So if you needed another reason to grow peonies (besides the blooms), you just got one more!

Lime Green Spring Peony Foliage with Red Stems
Peony 'Lovely Rose'

Friday, April 22, 2016

2016 Peony Roy Pehrson's Best Yellow Best Performer - Week 3

If you've ever really, really wanted a super early yellow peony for your Southern garden, then Peony 'Roy Pehrson's Best Yellow' is it! No other early yellow outperforms this peony. The bright pastel yellow blooms are always a sight for your winter weary eyes. Their light yellow blossoms with bright sunny yellow centers bring a smile to my face each spring. Peony 'Roy Pehrson's Best Yellow' was hybridized by Pehrson and registered in 1982. This peony increases well here, and comes back reliably year after year. Besides the rare color of this peony's flowers, the foliage really stands out. The huge leaves have a great presence in the garden and are a pleasing light green hue. If you don't grow this peony for its flowers, you may want to grow it for its colossal foliage!

Peony 'Roy Pehrson's Best Yellow'
Southern Peony Best Performer

Peony 'Roy Pehrson's Best Yellow'
Southern Peony Best Performer

Thursday, April 21, 2016

2016 Intersectional Peony Blooms Early Mid - Week 3

Wow I can hardly believe it! The intersectional peonies are already starting to bloom here! Of course these two early blooming intersectional peonies are also two of my favorite because they both share a hint of my favorite hue - lavender! Peony 'Morning Lilac' has huge 6" blooms of a deep fuchsia color, while Peony 'Sonoma Amethyst's lavender pink blooms are a little more subtly sized. However, there are so many of them on the bush, their sheer numbers more than make up for the petite stature of the blooms. If you are looking to add a little lavender of the Itoh variety to your garden, both of these peonies are great choices for early blooming intersectionals.
Intersectional Peony
'Morning Lilac'
Intersectional Peony
'Sonoma Amethyst'

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

2016 Peony Blooms Early Mid - Week 3

It has been very dry this week which has slowed down the peony blooms a bit. However, the peonies' foliage happily continues to grow unaffected by botrytis blight which thrives in moist conditions. The lack of rain during the immature foliage growth stage will bode well for a low incidence blight year since the new developing foliage is most susceptible to blight infections. Peony 'Coral Charm' was quite a stunner this year as usual. You are missing out if you don't have this coral. It is the best performing coral colored peony in my Southern garden, 2015 Peony 'Coral Charm' Best Performer - Week 2. Peony 'Burma Joy' is a bright early red that lights up your garden. Peony 'Paula Fay' is a great hot pink early peony, and Peony 'Pehrson's Violet Frisbee' is a violet pink single that adds a punch of purple hued color. If your peonies still haven't popped open, try a few of these early bloomers for an appetizing extension to your peony bloom season!
Peony 'Coral Charm'
Peony 'Burma Joy'
Peony 'Paula Fay'
Peony 'Pehrson's Violet Frisbee'

Friday, April 15, 2016

2016 First Ever Southern Peony Garden Party

Yay! Our very first Southern Peony Garden Party is going to be one month from today! We are going to have light snacks, tea, and play yard games. And of course we'll have lots of gorgeous peonies to see (and add to your wish list)! Seeing a plant in person instead of in a photo, in a vase, or on the show table (especially a plant growing in a similar climate to your own) can be very helpful in determining plants that would be suitable for your own garden. This way you can see how vigorously the plant grows, what the garden habit of the plant is, how the blooms open, and how the foliage grows in your climate. This is very valuable information since these type of attributes vary greatly in different growing zones. Also I hope this will serve as inspiration to others to share their peony gardens with their friends and neighbors and perhaps have a peony party of their own! I have been growing peonies for a long time, and people are always asking me to see them or come over when they are blooming. So this year I decided to put it on the calendar and invite everyone over. I'm sure a least some of them may find a new addiction - the love of peonies!

Southern Peony Garden Party

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

2016 Peony Blooms Early - Week 2

We've had a cloudy, but mostly dry week this week, which seemed to slow the development and bloom of the peonies. However, a few more flowers did open this week. Peony 'Honor' is always a bright shot of hot pink very early in the season, and one of my favorite colors in the early bloomers, a very bright pink purple. Peony 'Lustrous' is a great early blooming semi double candy red flower, that has so many petals it looks like a very lush double before it opens fully to reveal a bright yellow center. Peony 'Firelight' is an awesome single early bloomer in a light pink shade with darker pink flares. Peony 'Roy Pehrson's Best Yellow' is a reliable plant that increases well every year here in our Southern climate and I would highly recommend to other Southern gardeners for early peony color in a soft yellow. We did get a good rain after the end of the week. So I'm looking forward to lots more blooms in Week 3!
Peony 'Honor'
Peony 'Lustrous'
Peony 'Firelight'
Peony 'Roy Pehrson's Best Yellow'

Monday, April 11, 2016

2016 Peony Hybridizer Interview - Don R. Smith

Peony Hybridizer - Don R. Smith

1. Did your early life give you an introduction to the world of plants and flowers?

"When I was a child, we lived in a small house with a small yard in a little town in northeast New Jersey. Neither of my parents were gardeners, but I remember a small patch of rhubarb growing next to our garage. I was always impressed by how huge the leaves would grow. There was also a very large Mock Orange “bush” (Philadelphus Coronarius), which always seemed to attract a lot of different types of birds. I don’t remember much else about the yard except for a small garden with 3 very large old peony plants that were left behind by the people who lived in our house before us. I can’t remember if there were 2 reds and one white or the other way around, but I know that my mother really loved those old peonies. My guess is that the white was probably Festiva Maxima and that the red was Felix Crousse. To this day, rhubarb is my favorite pie and peonies are my favorite flower."

2. What year did you start hybridizing?

"I first became interested in hybridizing in the early 1970’s, when I dabbled around for a little while without much success, but then my attention and interest got diverted by several major research projects at work and then later by marriage, children and family responsibilities. It took me until the early 1990’s before I could find the time to return to gardening and again pursue my interest in hybridizing. My first intersectional peony hybrid appeared in 1993."

3. What made you want to get into peony hybridizing?

"I think it was my need to try to create something new and beautiful as opposed to just collecting and growing the beautiful creations of others. I guess it is a little like the need that many people have to participate in a sport as a player rather than being just a spectator."

4. Are you self trained, or have you taken classes or read books on hybridizing before you started?

"I have no formal or informal training in horticulture or breeding. Most of what I have learned comes from reading articles on plant breeding and from years of hands-on (trial and error) experience in my garden. So, I guess you could say that, I learned by following the advice of others at the beginning and then picked up the rest as I went along."

5. What kind of peonies do you specialize in?

"From the very first time that I saw a bright yellow tree peony hybrid, I have been infatuated with the idea of yellow peonies. I purchased and collected as many as I could afford at the time. Then I learned about the existence of yellow “herbaceous” peonies called Itoh or intersectional hybrids, so I had to get some of these new peonies as well. But soon, just growing these stunning new peonies wasn’t enough. I needed to try to create some of these remarkable new peonies myself. At the time, there were only a handful of intersectional peonies in existence, so this seemed like this might be a very fruitful direction to pursue. Twenty plus years later, hybridizing intersectional peonies remains the singular passion of my life."

Don R. Smith's Intersectional Peonies

6. How would you characterize your breeding program?

"I consider myself to be a serious amateur breeder specializing in developing new and improved intersectional peonies. However, over the last 20+ years, my hybridizing goals have evolved, so that today my primary focus is on creating fertile advanced generation intersectional hybrids. This is important, if this remarkable new hybrid group is to survive and eventually become a new race of peonies where their survival is not dependent on man. This is important because the first generation hybrids are highly sterile triploids, which very rarely produce viable seeds."

7. How has your "eye" for evaluating peonies changed over the years?

"Over the years, I have learned to focus less on the flowers, and especially on things like flower size and form, but instead to focus more of my attention on the value of these plants in the garden. Thus, I look more at features like flower presentation and the number and quality of the sidebud flowers, both of which lead to more desirable landscape plants and a longer period of bloom."

8. When you look at a plant as an experienced hybridizer, what do you see?

"I see a plant for the garden or landscape setting. Which means, I focus on many aspects of the plant, not just the flowers. This includes plant habit, foliage and flower presentation. Yes, the flowers are important too, but they are not everything. The number of flowers and the number of days that the plant stays in bloom are also very important, as are characteristics such as health, vigor and resistance to disease."

9. When you evaluate your seedlings, what are your major criteria?

"I rate all of my intersectional peony seedlings according to their overall landscape value, which is to say, how the plants look in the garden and the landscape as most gardeners usually view and enjoy their flowers. After much thought, I finally settled on three main factors to use in my evaluation process."

"First is the number and presentation of the flowers. This can best be evaluated by the average number of sidebud flowers per stem and from the strength of the main and auxiliary stems. The second factor is the plant habit, vigor and health, which includes the attractiveness and disease resistance of the plant and especially the foliage. The third factor is the overall quality and attractiveness of the flowers, which includes things like flower color, size and form, but also uniqueness in color pattern, such as flares, stripes, speckles and picotee edges."

Don R. Smith's Unnamed Seedlings

10. What are your aspirations for the future of peonies?

"Until fairly recently, there were only two major types of peonies, the herbaceous type and the woody type, which are generally referred to as tree peonies. Now, of course, we have a third type of peonies that are semi-woody in habit, which are the intersectional or Itoh peonies. The first two groups are fertile and thus self-sustaining, but the intersectional group are all still first-generation (F1) hybrids and thus as a group are extremely sterile. I recently estimated the chances of obtaining a viable seed from an intersectional hybrid by open pollination to be less than 1 in 6 million. This extraordinary infertility is in large part due to the fact that these first-generation hybrids are all triploids with three sets of chromosomes, which makes normal meiosis nearly impossible. Despite this, it is my dream to see this important new group of peonies become self-sustaining as well. Thus, in recent years, I have shifted my emphasis significantly towards trying to produce a few second generation (F2) or back-cross (BC) hybrids with the hope that some of these plants will have their fertility, at least, partially restored."

10(a). So, how is this work going so far?

"I would have to say “slow, but steady”. In the previous 4-5 years, I have identified a few “special” hybrids from the 300+ blooming intersectional hybrids in my garden that have exhibited a small degree of fertility as either pollen or seed parents. Working primarily with these selected hybrids, I made many hundreds of intersectional back-crosses (IBC), using intersectional pollen on various lactiflora varieties in my garden. Then, in the last two years, I also made hundreds of back-crosses in the opposite direction, this time using the intersectional hybrids as the seed parent. Thus, using pollen from various lactiflora varieties and fertile advanced generation herbaceous hybrids onto the selected intersectional seed parents. As a result of this latest effort, I now have 2 surviving reverse intersectional back-cross (RIBC) seedlings from two different intersectional hybrid seed parents. So now, we will have to wait to see if these unique hybrids will survive to maturity and whether they will display better fertility than their intersectional seed parents. Fully restored fertility in this group will require progeny that have returned to the diploid level or elevated to the tetraploid level."

11. What is your favorite named and registered cultivar so far (of your own)?

"This is a question that I get a lot. But, picking a single variety as my “favorite” is a little like being asked which one of your children is your favorite. How do you answer such as question? It is even hard for me to pick my top three or five varieties, never mind my favorite one. This being said, if I had to choose only one, I would have to pick Pink Double Dandy, which is being sold by Monrovia under the tradename, Keiko."

Don R. Smith's Peony 'Pink Double Dandy' (Keiko)

11(a). So what makes Pink Double Dandy so special?

"Well, PDD has just about everything you could want in a garden/landscape plant. First, it is extremely floriferous with mature specimens routinely having close to a hundred flowers in a season. Next, the flowers are near perfectly presented just above and beyond the beautiful foliage. This plant blooms in two distinct, but overlapping, waves of flowers with the later blooming sidebud flowers being consistently more double than the earlier terminal flowers. The color is a lovely shade of deep lavender pink which becomes deeper towards the flower center. It is easily among the top 2 or 3 performers in my garden each and every year."

Don R. Smith's Peony 'Pink Double Dandy' (Keiko)

12. Which of your peonies are your oldies but goodies?

"It is hard for me to think about any of my hybrids as “oldies” since only a handful of my varieties have been widely available for more than several years. Having said this, I would say that only ones that I could put into such a category would be Singing in the Rain, Magical Mystery Tour and Yankee Doodle Dandy."

Don R. Smith's Peony 'Yankee Doodle Dandy'

13. Which of your new registrations are you most excited about?

"Other than Pink Double Dandy (Keiko) which we have already discussed, I would have to say that the one variety that I am most excited about is a little known variety called Scrum-didley-umptious. This variety is one of my most consistent and reliable performers. One of the features, which makes this variety so special, is that the sidebud flowers are not only plentiful, but also extremely double. Like PDD, this plant has just about everything that you could want in a peony. Unfortunately, due to its limited availability in the marketplace, it has remained greatly under-appreciated. I believe in time this variety will become one of my best intersectional hybrids and will eventually find a place near the top of the list of the finest intersectional hybrid peonies. Every year this remarkable plant is covered with very large, fully double flowers that are perfectly displayed just above and beyond the beautiful foliage. It blooms early and stays in bloom for up to 3 weeks or more. The flowers are pale yellow heavily flushed and suffused with pink when first open, thus appearing light pink. Mature flowers are cream flushed with light pink and highlighted by darker pink flares."

Don R. Smith's Peony 'Scrumdidleyumptious'

14. What is the story behind the first peony you ever registered?

"The first of my intersectional hybrids to bloom flowered in 2000. Although, it didn’t look that special in its first year of bloom, this plant turned out to be an exceptional variety, which was later registered, along with 11 other varieties in 2004, under the name Singing in the Rain. The name came to me one day when several visitors were scheduled to visit my garden for the first time. As luck would have it, it poured all night long the night before my guests were to arrive, and I was sure that my garden would look like a total mess when my guests arrived the next morning. To my surprise, when we walked down to the garden that morning, most of the plants looked better than I had imagined, but one in particular looked really fantastic. As I walked through my garden that morning, the name Singing in the Rain jumped into my head and I couldn’t get the tune from the 1952 movie out of my head all day. It was right there and then that I knew I had the perfect name for my very first named variety. The following year, I counted 155 flowers on this extraordinary plant, which remains the largest number of flowers I have ever counted on a single plant in my garden. In 2014, the peony was selected as the “Peony of the Year” by the Canadian Peony Society."

Don R. Smith's Peony 'Singing in the Rain'

15. What is the average length of time you evaluate a peony before you put it on the market?

"The evaluation process starts when the seedlings are in their first year of growth, but, of course, there is not really much to evaluate during the first few years except for the foliage and the overall health and vigor of the plant. Serious evaluation begins in the second year of bloom, which usually occurs when the plants are 6-7 years old. From this point, adequate evaluation usually requires an additional 2 or 3 more years."

16. How do you come up with the names for your peonies?

"For the most part, my naming process is pretty random. I collect names that I come across or think of in a file on my computer for future use. They can come from almost anywhere; music, movies, Broadway shows, advertisements, etc. When I see a name somewhere that I like and think that I might want to use someday, I write it down and add it to my file. Sometimes, the plant or flower dictates a name such as was the case with Singing in the Rain. Other times I wait for a plant that seems to fit a name that I really like and that I am determined to use at some point with some variety such as with Magical Mystery Tour."

Don R. Smith's Peony 'Magical Mystery Tour'

17. Which of your peonies have proved to be the most popular with the public? Were any of these a surprise?

"My most popular varieties have been Singing in the Rain, Yankee Doodle Dandy and Smith Family Yellow, partially because these varieties have been more widely available than many of my others hybrids. Recently, however, Pink Double Dandy (Keiko) has become extremely popular as well."

Don R. Smith's Peony 'Smith Family Yellow'

18. What excites you about other hybridizers programs?

"I have long been very interested in the hybridizing programs of a number of other breeders, but especially those of Bill Seidl and Bernard Chow. Bill has been hybridizing peonies for close to half a century and, in that time, has produced a remarkable number of unique and extraordinary advanced generation herbaceous hybrids, such as Pastelegance, Carnation Bouquet, Valkyrie and The Little Corporal, just to name a few. These hybrids are notable, in large part, because they all contain at least 5 or more different species in their genetic makeup. In addition, Bill has also worked extensively with advanced generation (lutea) tree peony hybrids originated by Daphnis and Reath and produced many wonderful tree peony hybrids. He also distributed many of his fertile hybrids and hybrid seeds to other hybridizers throughout the world. One of these hybridizers was Bernard Chow in Melbourne, Australia. Bernard continued this work in Australia by cross breeding these AG hybrids and produced 100’s of beautiful new varieties in nearly every color, including many that are 7th, 8th and even 9th generation hybrids. In addition, he has been helping me for many years by sending me pollen from many of his best new hybrids. This has given me the opportunity to try close to 100 different tree peony pollens in my intersectional breeding program. Up to now, I probably have close to a hundred intersectional seedlings from these various pollens. And so, the progress continues with each new generation of breeders building on the hard work and success of those who came before them. So, in a way you could say that things have come full circle – “Around the world and back again”, going from the US to Australia and then back to the US."

19. Has the pleasure you have taken from the world of peonies changed and evolved over the years?

"The pleasure that I have received from my interest in peonies has increased greatly since I began hybridizing and growing my own peonies. Now, after many years of breeding my own intersectional peonies, I take great pleasure from seeing my hybrids being displayed by others at the annual flower shows as well as in public and private gardens all over the country."

20. What would you like to say to newbies just getting into the world of hybridizing peonies?

"Don’t be afraid to try something new that you are not sure you will be good at. I’m proof that you don’t need to have experience or training to be successful at hybridizing. Furthermore, you don’t have to be especially great at it in order to experience the joy and satisfaction of creating your own hybrid peonies. Hybridizing peonies is easy and rewarding and will greatly increase the joy and pleasure which you derive from your garden."

All Photos Courtesy of Don R. Smith
@ The Wonderful World of Intersectional Peonies

Saturday, April 9, 2016

2016 Southern Peony New Peony Hybridizers Section

I am very excited about a new page I'm adding to Southern Peony - Hybridizers. This page will be on the 2nd row of the menu bar at the top of every page. So it will be very easy to find. This page is a result of my interest in breeding and breeders. When I was reading an article about a breeder from TN of another type of plant, I felt like there was a gap in the reporting and recording of this type of information in the world of peonies. So I decided to start interviewing peony breeders. My first interviewee and I have finally finished my first interview, and I am very excited to publish it tomorrow. I won't spoil the surprise of who the first peony hybridizer interview is with. So you'll have to check back tomorrow to find out who it is and read all about them!
Hybridize Definition

Friday, April 8, 2016

2016 Peony 'Halcyon' Best Performer - Week 1

I must say that I am usually not too impressed by Week 1 peonies. They can and do bloom here, but often they only have one or two blooms or the blooms aren't very spectacular. I must say that I have been really impressed by Peony 'Halcyon' this year. It put up 5 blooms this year, and it looks there will be even more next year (as long as we don't get a hard late frost)! Peony 'Halcyon' was hybridized by Professor A. P. Saunders and registered in 1948. In its registration, it is described as blush with purple flares. However, the flowers in my garden open a light pink violet and fade to blush over time. The flares are not purple, but more of a darker pink violet than the rest of the bloom, which makes for a very lovely flower, especially so early in the season. If you are looking for a pretty pastel peony to start your peony bloom season, this one is it!

Peony 'Halcyon'
Southern Peony Best Performer

Peony 'Halcyon'
Southern Peony Best Performer

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

2016 Peony Blooms Very Early - Week 1

Since we haven't had any late bud blasting winter weather yet this year, the very early peonies did very well this spring. Peony 'Nova' bloomed for me for the first time ever this year. Peony 'Halcyon' was the second peony to bloom in my garden this year and has definitely been the most impressive. Peony 'Early Scout' is a pretty reliable very early blooming peony that gives you a punch of bright red color early in the season. Tree Peony 'White Phoenix' has also been a reliable bloomer since it first started blooming in my garden, and is growing and increasing nicely. If your peony bloom season hasn't started yet, take a peek at some of these very early blooming peonies. Try to seek them out in the peony catalogs this year to add some early peony color to your garden!
Peony 'Nova'
Peony 'Halcyon'
Peony 'Early Scout'
Tree Peony 'White Phoenix'