Monday, April 30, 2018

2018 Intersectional Peony Garden Welcomes Me Home

Southern Peony Intersectional Peony Garden

This was the sight I saw when I arrived home today. It was such a sight to behold, especially since when I left the only peonies that were really blooming were some early blooming Saunders hybrids. The tree peonies had already pretty much finished, and the intersectional peony bed was just full of buds. So to experience an almost instant transformation from full bud to full bloom was just amazing! The garden is just lovely and my whole family is very proud and happy to see it as well. I must say that when I first planted my intersectional peony bed I had hoped it would be beautiful, but these flowers have far exceeded my expectations - so full of life and easy to grow here in the South. If you don't yet grow any intersectional peonies, I highly recommend trying one, you'll definitely want more!
Southern Peony Intersectional Peony Garden

Sunday, April 29, 2018

2018 Those Are Some TALL Peonies!!!

No, this is not a tall tale. I really have noticed that several peonies have grown taller this year than I've ever remembered them growing before. I guess the weather created just the right mix of conditions needed to make them sprout higher than ever. One of my peony seedlings was almost up to my chest. That's pretty tall considering I'm 5'7''. Two of my peony seedlings in my peony seedling bed grew to be 44 inches. I'm not sure if being crowded had anything to do with the peony seedlings growing tall, but Peony 'Paul M. Wild' also grew very high this year, and that one is definitely not crowded. We must have had just the right mix of temperatures, amount of rain, combined with the daylight hours of the new spring season that some peonies really just liked. Has anyone else noticed any very tall herbaceous peonies in their garden this year?

Peony Seedling 44" Tall

Peony Seedling 44" Tall

Peony 'Paul M. Wild' 44" Tall

Peony 'Paul M. Wild' (on right)
Near Other Normal Height Peonies

Friday, April 27, 2018

2018 Intersectional Peony Blooms - Week 3 Early Mid

The intersectional peonies are just barely getting started this week. So only a few varieties have opened so far. Intersectional Peony 'First Arrival' is aptly names since it blooms early in the intersectional peony bloom season. It is usually one of the first intersectional peonies to open. Intersectional Peony 'Takara' is very exotic, with complex coloring in shades of pink, with the petal edges appearing a bit darker than the centers, and the center of the flower containing a dark raspberry colored flare. Intersectional Peony 'Watermelon Wine' bloomed for the first time for me this year, and it is a lovely shade of pinky red, much darker than an actual watermelon, with almost matching, but a bit darker flares in the center of the bloom.

Intersectional Peony 'First Arrival'

Intersectional Peony 'Takara'

Intersectional Peony 'Watermelon Wine'

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

2018 Peony Blooms - Week 3 Early Mid

Pretty much the last of the tree peonies are blooming this week. Tree Peony 'Koukamon' 皇嘉門 (Floral Gate) bloomed for the first time for me this year, and I can't believe how dark purple it is, just beautiful! Peony 'Seraphim' and Peony 'Coral Charm' are reliable bloomers and both Southern Peony Best Performers. Peony 'Golden Frolic' and Peony 'Prairie Moon' are both delicate pastel beauties. It is always nice to see them light up the garden, and the honey bees just love peony 'Golden Folic'! We've had a pretty good start to the peony bloom season this year. I'm a little sad to be missing part of it during my trip to China, but I'm hoping it's worth it! I hope your peony bloom seasons are all well under way and going well or are starting soon (if you're more North than South!). :-)

Peony 'Seraphim'

Tree Peony 'Koukamon' 皇嘉門 (Floral Gate)

Peony 'Paladin'

Peony 'Golden Frolic'

Peony 'Coral Charm'

Peony 'Prairie Moon'

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

2018 Tree Peony 'Angel Emily' Best Performer - Week 3

I do not cease to be amazed by this tree peony. I used to not really like tree peonies all that much, but I have to credit this one with changing my mind. Tree Peony 'Angel Emily' is a dream plant. It has wonderful vigor, increasing in size and blooms every year. Its bloom buds withstand our late freezes, and the color of the flower just blows your mind. This tree peony was hybridized by Bill Seidl and registered jointly by Bill and Nate Bremer in 2013. I missed being able to purchase it in 2013, but by 2014, I was ready to hunt it down. The pictures of this full grown plant on Solaris Farms' web site called to me! The semi-double flowers are a beautiful shade of lavender with just a hint of pink. The petals are large and ruffled, the center of which emanates a dark purple flare. If you missed your chance to purchase this one again this year (it is already sold out for 2018), make sure to put it on your 2019 peony purchase list!
Tree Peony 'Angel Emily'
Southern Peony Best Performer

Tree Peony 'Angel Emily'
Southern Peony Best Performer

Tree Peony 'Angel Emily'
Southern Peony Best Performer

Saturday, April 21, 2018

2018 Tree Peony Companions Azaleas

Tree Peony 'Angel Emily' with White Azalea

If you don't grow azaleas, you are definitely missing out. Azaleas are easy to grow bushes that don't require any extra care. They grow well in zones 5-8. So they have a pretty wide growing range. They are loaded with blooms in early spring, and with so many colors to choose from, you are sure to find one that fits in your garden. There's white, pink, coral, red, lavender, yellow, and all colors in between! They typically like to be grown in half shade/half sun. If you plant them in too much shade, they won't bloom well (just like tree peonies). So a little more sun is better.

Tree Peony 'Angel Emily' with White Azalea

They also bloom around the same time as tree peonies, thus making the perfect brilliant backdrop for your favorite tree peonies. Pictured here is a common white azalea (purchased quite inexpensively as a very small bush many years ago) with Tree Peony 'Angel Emily'. I just love the gorgeous lavender pink blooms of Tree Peony 'Angel Emily', which contrast well with the bright white blooms of the large azalea. If you don't yet grow azaleas, now's your chance to plant a very low maintenance shrub that grows larger and blooms abundantly (without any help from me) every year!
Tree Peony 'Angel Emily' with White Azalea

Friday, April 20, 2018

2018 Amazing Color Changing Tree Peony 'Taiyo' 太陽 (The Sun)

Color Changing Tree Peony 'Taiyo' 太陽 (The Sun)

When I first saw this bud show some color, I thought for sure that I'd gotten the wrong peony. However I think I actually have the correct one. Tree Peony 'Taiyo' 太陽 (The Sun) is supposed to be a red peony. The bud first came out with light pink petals. Even as the flower began to open they were still pretty pink. However the petals actually became darker and darker as the bloom fully opened. I've seen lots of peonies open and lose their color, but this is the first time I've ever seen a peony get darker and more colorful as it ages - definitely new and different (and a bit exciting!) for me. Take a look at the transformation of this tree peony bloom from pink to red below!

Tree Peony 'Taiyo' 太陽 (The Sun) Bud

Tree Peony 'Taiyo' 太陽 (The Sun) Bud Opening

Tree Peony 'Taiyo' 太陽 (The Sun) Bloom Opening

Tree Peony 'Taiyo' 太陽 (The Sun) Bloom

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

2018 Peony Blooms - Week 2 Early

This week we've started to see a few more colorful buttons in the garden. The Saunders peony garden and the tree peony garden both have definitely had the most activity this week as far as blooms go. Peony 'Roselette's Baby' and Tree Peony 'Taiyo' 太陽 (The Sun) both bloomed for me for the first time this year. So it was nice to see and meet those blossoms for the first time ever. Peony 'Coral Fay' and Peony 'Coral Sunset' started up the coral peony season. The colors of Peony 'Honor' and Tree Peony 'Angel Emily' always stand out in the garden. Peony 'Honor' has just a bright, saturated pink, and Tree Peony 'Angel Emily' has those gorgeous, ruffled, lavender petals. I hope your peony bloom season is getting off to a good start! :-)

Peony 'Roselette's Baby'

Tree Peony 'Taiyo' 太陽 (The Sun)

Peony 'Coral Fay'

Peony 'Honor'

Peony 'Coral Sunset'

Tree Peony 'Angel Emily'

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

2018 Tree Peony 'White Phoenix' Best Performer - Week 2

Of all the tree peonies I've tried to grow, this one is definitely the easiest to grow. It doesn't mind our heat. The bush gets larger every year - no shrinkage. And the blooms become more and more plentiful as well. It is a great start to the peony season, with plenty of brilliant white blossoms decorating a nice bush. Tree Peony 'White Phoenix' 鳳丹白(Feng Dan Bai) is a Chinese cultivar of p. ostii. If you don't grow any tree peonies, and are looking for a good one to start with, this one is it. It is relatively inexpensive (compared to most other tree peonies),is widely grown (so it should be easy to find), and really takes care of itself (requiring very little intervention). Also if you do already grow tree peonies, this one would be an easy going variety to add to your collection. It really is a great tree peony for all peony lovers.

Tree Peony 'White Phoenix' 鳳丹白(Feng Dan Bai)
Southern Peony Best Performer

Tree Peony 'White Phoenix' 鳳丹白(Feng Dan Bai)
Southern Peony Best Performer

Monday, April 16, 2018

2018 Straight Line Winds Flatten Tree Peony 'Koukamon' 皇嘉門 (Floral Gate)

Tree Peony 'Koukamon' 皇嘉門 (Floral Gate) Flattened

Wow! We had a doozy of a storm last night. It definitely could have been much worse. There were tornadoes maybe an hour west of here. The worst damage I found in my garden was that my Tree Peony 'Koukamon' 皇嘉門 (Floral Gate) had been flattened. When I first saw it from afar, I was really worried that it had snapped off, but it didn't! That was really lucky. It was laying pretty much flat on the ground. Somehow it just bent over without breaking. The weight of the water in the flower combined with the straight line winds was just too much for it.

Tree Peony 'Koukamon' 皇嘉門 (Floral Gate) Righted

I was able to right it, and stake it up with a bamboo stake and some twine. I think it will be okay, but we'll see. I can't wait to see the bloom open on this tree peony. Having just saved it seems to make it all the more special. This will be the first time this tree peony has bloomed for me. I planted it in 2017, and it seems to be happy and growing well. This particular plant also appears to be the correct variety, which several of my tree peonies are not. I will try to publish a post on that later about peonies and which ones have been true to name. This Tree Peony 'Koukamon' has a dark purple maroon color bud on it right now. I expect it will open fully tomorrow. I can't wait!

Tree Peony 'Koukamon' 皇嘉門 (Floral Gate) Bloom

Sunday, April 15, 2018

2018 I'm in Love (Again!) with Tree Peony 'Fuchsia Ruffles'

Tree Peony 'Fuchsia Ruffles'

I don't know how it's happened, but yet another tree peony from Solaris Farms has stolen my heart! Last year it was 2017 In Love with Tree Peony 'Angel Emily'. This year it's Tree Peony 'Fuchsia Ruffles'. Purple is most definitely my favorite color, and this tree peony has quite a bit of purple. It is a lovely, deep shade of fuchsia, a dark pinky-purple. It appears to be RHS Purple 71A on the RHS Color Chart. Let's just say this flower is aptly named, with loads of deep fuchsia petals, all with a ruffled, frilly edge.

RHS Purple Color Chart with
Tree Peony 'Fuchsia Ruffles' Just Opening

I think Solaris Farms is trying to make all of the die-hard herbaceous peony fans into tree peony fans, and they're doing a fantastic job of it! For years I tried to grow tree peonies, but was unsucessful - and growing tree peonies shouldn't be that hard to do here. It was likely low quality bare root tree peonies (from less reputable sellers) and maybe a bit of inexperience (okay maybe a lot!) that caused several of my first tree peonies to fail. However Solaris Farms sends huge, beautiful roots, well adapted and ready to take root in your garden. I can't say enough good things about the tree peonies I've purchased from them. Now I can't wait to see what's next!

Tree Peony 'Fuchsia Ruffles' Up Close

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

2018 Peony Blooms - Week 1 Very Early

Well, I think the peony bloom season has gotten off to a pretty good start this year, despite the extended period of cold weather we've been having this year. The bloom season did not start at the end of March (which it sometimes does). April has been shaping up to be pretty cool too so far. If you don't have any very early peony blooms in your garden, I'd definitely recommend looking up one of these varieties to purchase. It just make you feel so happy seeing these first early peony blooms begin to open! I think my favorite of this week's blooms has definitely been the Paeonia Rockii tree peony that I grew from seed. I just love the color, and the nice dark purple flares radiating from the center. The red fernleaf hybrid peony and Peony 'Roy Pehrson's Best Yellow' are both pretty reliable very early bloomers for me here. Tree Peony 'Yao's Yellow' bloomed for me for the first time this year, and it smells heavenly! Which bloom is your favorite???

Tree Peony P. Rockii Seedling

Peony 'Yao's Yellow'

Red Fernleaf Hybrid Peony

Peony 'Roy Pehrson's Best Yellow'

Sunday, April 8, 2018

2018 Intersectional Peony 'Scrumdidleyumptious' Arrives

Intersectional Peony 'Scrumdidleyumptious' Potted Up

My intersectional peonies from 2018 Tulip World Offers Intersectional Peony 'Scrumdidleyumptious' for $12.95! arrived this past Friday, and I immediately potted them up. The foliage had already been growing in the bag for some time. Whenever I've gotten roots like this and planted them out in their spot in the garden in the past, the foliage seems to burn up in the sun and die. I think they've been in the bag in the dark too long, and started growing in almost no light or completely no light. That's why the foliage growth is so pale. Then when I plant them out in their full sun location, the intensity of the sun's rays are just too much for the immature foliage that has been growing in the dark. So this time I decided to try potting them up and putting them in the shade for a little while, until I'm satisfied that the foliage is growing well and will live. It's kind of like hardening off plants that you've been growing indoors or in a greenhouse that are used to a warmer more even air temperatures. You have to kind of ease them into living outside again.

Intersectional Peony 'Scrumdidleyumptious' in Bags

I'm hoping by easing these plants into the light, they will have a better chance of survival. I'm just lucky I had a couple of pots and some top soil. Usually I recycle all of my pots right away, and I don't usually have top soil. I had been keeping a few pots on hand in case I wanted to share some plants, and I was using the top soil to try to fix some bare spots in my lawn and improve the soil around some underperforming plants. I kept these intersectional peonies in the shade all day on Friday, and on Saturday we had an entire day of rain. So a nice, cloudy sky to help these immature intersectional peonies to get on their way - growing! I'm just curious to see if they actually have intersectional peony foliage. We'll see... ;-)

Intersectional Peony 'Scrumdidleyumptious' Roots

Saturday, April 7, 2018

2018 Peony Companions Daffodils

Peony 'Soft Lemon Kisses' with Daffodil 'Sunlight Sensation'

I'm sure many of you have daffodils as a companion with your peonies. If you don't then you should definitely consider planting some daffodil bulbs this fall. Daffodils can be an entertaining distraction while you are waiting for those peony blooms to open. They are also super easy to grow. Just dig a hole, mix in some fertilizer, put the bulbs in the bottom of the hole (spaced out), and then replace the dirt. These beautiful and easy bulbs are very reliable and will come back year after year.

Peony 'Color Magnet' with Daffodil 'Cheerfulness'

If you get lucky enough, you may even have some daffodils and very early peonies or tree peonies to bloom at the same time. There are some summer blooming varieties of daffodil like 'Summer Cheer' that will bloom later than other daffodils as well. Daffodils nowadays are not just the yellow flower that your great-grandma grew. There are so many forms, shapes, sizes, and colors to choose from now - from lemon yellows, to white, to yellow with orange, to white with pink and double daffodils, butterfly daffodils, miniature daffodils, to daffodils with multiple blooms per stem. Have fun picking out some early spring colorful cheerfulness!

Peony 'Pehrson's Violet Frisbee' with Double Daffodil 'Tahiti'