Saturday, June 22, 2019

2019 Questions - How to Grow Peonies in Zone 10A

I received this question from Roseann in zone 10A:

"Hello Adriana, I really enjoy your blog. Thank you so much for all the wonderful information. I would love to grow Herbaceous Peonies. I've tried once to grow three herbaceous ones, and none of them took. Do you have any advice for how I can grow them here in Southern California Zone 10A? Or if you even think that it's possible. I would really appreciate any advice and help you can give me."

USDA Growing Zones Map
How to Grow Peonies in Zone 10A

I have heard of people dumping ice on their peonies during winter in hotter growing zones, but I don't have a lot of specific information on how they did it (how often, how much ice, how many days/weeks/months?). Also that sounds like quite a bit of trouble to me to grow a flower. So I would probably not recommend that approach.

I would really recommend trying to grow an intersectional peony. They are a cross between an herbaceous peony and a tree peony, and they are able to grow in a bit warmer growing zones (just like their tree peony parents). Tree peonies may be another option if you are interested, but I really think intersectional peonies will be easier to grow. Intersectional peonies are grown on their own roots, while tree peonies are normally grafted and can take longer to become established (which may be hard to do in a challenging climate).

No matter which type of peony you choose (herbaceous or intersectional), I would recommend planting them very shallow. You want to cover the roots, but the pinkish "eyes" should be at ground level, and seeing them over winter is perfectly fine (even suggested in warmer growing zones). Those "eyes" need cool temperatures during the winter to set bud.

If you choose a tree peony, plant them deep. Their "eyes" or growth buds need to be buried beneath the soil. The deeper a tree peony is planted, the better. The roots of the plant should be deep in the soil, with the actual stem (woody) part of the peony planted 3-5 inches beneath the soil surface. This will (hopefully) allow the tree peony to start growing more of its own roots from the buried tree peony stem.

A great intersectional peony to try if you are interested is Intersectional Peony 'Bartzella', an American Peony Society Gold Medal Winner. It is a stellar performer for me, always loaded with buds and flowers, and the flowers are just gorgeous - bright, full double standout yellow blooms! You can get it for a decent price nowadays too (since it has been around for a while now). Check out my intersectional peony price list for places to buy it... 2019 Intersectional Peony Catalog Price Comparison List.

I hope this information helps, and I'd love to hear more about your garden in the future. Please keep me posted on how growing peonies works out for you!

Friday, June 21, 2019

2019 American Peony Society Convention Reiman Gardens Conservatory & Butterfly House

Reiman Gardens Conservatory

After things had settled down with the 2019 American Peony Society Convention Reiman Gardens Peony Flower Exhibition a bit, I finally got to check out Reiman Gardens, and boy am I glad I did! Those blue couches in the middle of the conservatory that look like a dream? Yes, I lounged there a bit and took in the sights and sounds all around me. I was met with well grown and carefully groomed plants everywhere I looked. While I relaxed on the dreamy sofa, I took in the playful sounds of the waterfall and let the tropical foliage take me away to an imaginary (yet very real!) retreat. I must say I was quite surprised by the hidden gems around every corner in this conservatory. It was not in the least what I expected, yet very much more than I expected - what a treat! It was amazing yet very relaxing and peaceful all at once.

Reiman Gardens Tropical Waterfall

Reiman Gardens Conservatory Planters

There were brightly colored blooming bulbs in pretty much every pot in sight - tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, alliums, and vases overflowing with bunches of blooms. There were palm trees of all kinds, urns filled with blooming orchids, and small water fountains everywhere! The delights for the senses surrounded you - sights, smells, sounds. Reiman gardens had even decorated the conservatory and their entire garden actually with a theme. The current theme is "Toys and Games". Apparently they change the theme every year. So this year there were dice planters, big dice between the cacti in the conservatory and the ferns at the front desk, playing cards tucked into planters, and a a giant dice sculpture outdoors. I'm not sure that I've seen another garden do a them quite like this, and it definitely added an extra fun element that popped up all around the display gardens.

Reiman Gardens Conservatory

Reiman Gardens Hallway

The Reiman Gardens Butterfly House was another treat after I'd finished exploring the Hughes Conservatory. I took the opportunity to rest on a few of the benches they had scattered throughout the butterfly house (and take some nice butterfly shots while I was there). There were actually a lot of butterflies in the house the day I went, and they all seemed to be quite active. I guess I went at the right time of day, perhaps. There were butterflies of orange, yellow, brown, white, and blue. They were fluttering about chasing each other, resting on a leaves, sipping nectar from flowers, and learning to fly. There's just something about tiny little creatures with large, colorful wings that really spark my imagination and carry me away to a world of whimsy.

Reiman Gardens Butterfly House Butterflies

Paper Kite Butterfly
Reiman Gardens Butterfly House

Reiman Gardens Butterfly House

Yellow, Black, & Blue Butterfly
Reiman Gardens Butterfly House

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

2019 American Peony Society Convention Reiman Gardens Peony Flower Exhibition

2019 APS Convention Flower Exhibition
Reiman Gardens Garden Room

I must say I really enjoyed the natural feeling of the 2019 American Peony Society Exhibition room this year, which was in the Garden Room of Reiman Gardens in Ames, Iowa. There was so much wood in the room, but not too much, that it gave it a soft feeling. The space also had lots of windows, mirrors, and natural lighting, perfect for showing off all of those gorgeous peony blooms. Even with the natural lighting, the room was still cool enough to keep the peony blossoms fresh for the competition and exhibition. So we had the best of both worlds.

Itoh and Herbaceous Hybrid Peonies
2019 APS Convention Flower Exhibition

There was just something about having those natural wood beams around the room, that just made the peonies pop! I just couldn't stop taking pictures of the peonies against the wood. The rich, light brown color just made the perfect companion to the brightly colored peonies. The show was actually really well attended. There were many, many members of the public, plus a busload of peony enthusiasts from the Heartland Peony Society that came to visit on Sunday. It was nice to see the excitement of everyone - new and seasoned peony enthusiasts alike, and many new people decided to become APS members as well. All in all it was quite a successful show for the APS and for peonies!

Peony Collection Entries
2019 APS Convention Flower Exhibition

Peony Collection Entry
2019 APS Convention Flower Exhibition

Sunday, June 16, 2019

2019 American Peony Society Convention Reiman Gardens Peony Flower Bouquets

Reiman Gardens Peony Bouquets

I'm not sure who put together all of the beautiful vases of peonies at the Reiman Gardens front desk for the 2019 American Peony Society Convention, but they were gorgeous! I only wish I had this many colors and varieties of peonies to pick at once to brighten up a vase! No where else on earth will you find as many peony varieties from all different bloom seasons - early season, mid season, and late season all gathered together and on display than you will at a peony flower exhibition. If you are lucky enough to be able to visit a peony show, then you are in for a unique experience! Prepare to be dazzled and delighted!!

Reiman Gardens Front Desk Covered with Peonies

There wasn't an inch of space left on the welcome desk at Reiman Gardens on the days of the flower exhibition. Glorious bouquets of dark maroon, pale peach, bright pink, cherry red, and sunny yellow greeted APS Members and Reiman garden visitors alike. If you came just to visit the garden that weekend, you happened upon a real treat! The bouquets upon bouquets of peonies at the front gave away that something was going on. I'd like to say I have an easy favorite of all of the bouquets on the front desk, but there were so many of them I really loved, my mind can't settle on just one! If you didn't get to see these lovely flowers at the show, I hope you get a chance to enjoy them now! :-)

Reiman Gardens Peony Bouquets

Reiman Gardens Peony Bouquets

Reiman Gardens Front Desk Peony Bouquets

Sunday, June 9, 2019

2019 APS Convention Southern Peony Wins 3 Blue Ribbons in Artistic Division & First Rosette

Southern Peony Artistic Design Entries
1st Place "Happy Days" & 1st Place "Honored Guest"

I must say I was very proud of my "Happy Days" arrangement that I entered into the 2019 American Peony Society Flower Exhibition this year. Of the three arrangement I entered, it was definitely my favorite. The bright yellow colors of the hostas and the irises just popped like rays of sunshine and made me feel happy whenever I looked at it. The arrangement category honored a Saunders peony by the same name, Peony 'Happy Days', a lutea hybrid with colors of rose and gold. The "Honored Guest" arrangement was nice too, honoring another Saunders Peony 'Honored Guest', a white single with pink flares. Since I didn't have a Peony 'Honored Guest' to put into the arrangement, I used a single white tree peony and made flares of pink bleeding hearts coming out all around the white flower. The "Great Lady" arrangement honored Peony 'Great Lady', another Saunders hybrid, which blooms as a single hot pink peony in my garden. So I used a single hot pink peony, but the arrangement was supposed to be tall like a great lady. So I used tall fern fronds, which are feminine, yet commanding.

My First Artistic Design Rosette
1st Place "Honored Guest"
Novice Design Award
1st Place "Great Lady"

When the results for the show were announced, I was astounded to find I'd won 3 1st place blue ribbons, plus a rosette for Novice Best Design! This is the first year I've ever won a rosette in a design category. However I was really shocked that it was the "Honored Guest" arrangement that actually won the Novice Best Design Rosette. I felt sure that the "Happy Days" entry I'd entered was my best effort. It was interesting to see the comments from the judges on the backs of my entry tags. That's the thing I think is pretty neat about the Artistic Design category, all of the artistic designs are judged by local certified design judges (not APS judges). Regardless of which arrangement won, I am very grateful to have been able to enter into this category in the APS show. I owe many thanks to the APS members that donate peonies to the artistic design category every year, and to Kris who graciously allowed me to harvest hostas, iris, and bleeding hearts, and other foliage from her garden. Thank you!

2019 American Peony Society Convention Flower Exhibition Court of Honor

2019 American Peony Society Court of Honor

There were so many pretty peony flowers on the show table this year. Two of the top honors went to people who'd never won those awards before, 2019 APS Best in Show Peony 'Noma Volz' Awarded to First Time Grand Champion Winner, Mike Miller and 2019 APS Treasurer and First Time Entrant Wins 2 Court of Honor Ribbons & Best Novice Specimen Rosette in the American Peony Society Flower Exhibition. Also this was the first time ever that Peony 'Norma Volz' has ever won the highest honor in the show, Grand Champion / Best In Show. To me, that makes for a pretty exciting flower show! There were lots of firsts this year, and I can't wait to see how the show goes next year in Chicago!

Peony 'Age of Victoria'
Best Novice
Peony 'Norma Volz'
Grand Champion
Peony 'Jacks Point'
Reserve Champion,
William Seidel Memorial Award

Peony 'Garden Treasure'
Best Yellow / Yellow Blend Intersectional,
Best Intersectional
Peony 'Madame Claude Tain'
Best White Lactiflora
Peony 'Victory'
Best Blush Lactiflora
Peony 'Waucedah Princess'
Best Pink or Pink Blend Tree Peony
Peony 'Vesuvian'
Best Red / Maroon Tree Peony
Peony 'Mabel L. Gore'
Red Lactiflora
Peony 'Coral Scout'
Best Coral Hybrid
Peony 'Ice Age'
Best White or White Blend Tree Peony
Peony 'Pastelegance'
Best White / Blush / Yellow Hybrid,
Allan Rogers Memorial Award
Peony 'Kamata-fuji'
Best Purple / Lavender Tree Peony
Peony 'Buckeye Belle'
Best Red Hybrid

Peony 'TP Sdlg N'
Best Seedling
Peony '3442'
Best Seedling
Peony 'Petticoat Parade'
Best 3 of a Kind

Saturday, June 8, 2019

2019 APS Best in Show Peony 'Noma Volz' Awarded to First Time Grand Champion Winner, Mike Miller

Mike Miller with his First Ever Grand Champion
Peony 'Norma Volz'

It was an exciting day on the show table all around with many entrants on the Court of Honor this year that may not have been the usual suspects. The same was true for the winner of the whole show - both the flower and the entrant. Mike Miller of Great Seal Peonies won the top honor for the first time ever at the 2019 APS Flower Exhibition this year. Peony 'Norma Volz' was the flower that won him the honor, eliciting three ribbons - a 1st place Blue Ribbon, a Court of Honor Rosette (light blue) and the Grand Champion Rosette (purple). You can tell by the look on his face how thrilled he was, and I couldn't have been more happy for him. It really is nice to see new winners on the Court of Honor and for the Grand Champion of the show. Peony 'Norma Volz' was also a first time Grand Champion, as this peony variety had never before won the show's top honors - until now! Congratulations to Mike with his prize winning show flower, Peony 'Norma Volz'!

Peony 'Norma Volz'
2019 APS Best in Show / Grand Champion

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

2019 APS Treasurer and First Time Entrant Wins 2 Court of Honor Ribbons & Best Novice Specimen Rosette in the American Peony Society Flower Exhibition

Kris Wins Novice Best Specimen on the APS Court of Honor
Peony 'Age of Victoria'

As I examined the final selections on the American Peony Society Court of Honor this year, my heart leapt with excitement as I found that Kris had won a spot in the top honor of the entire flower show! I practically ran to find her and bring her back to the table at the front of the show. I think I might have been more excited than she was! Her Peony 'Age of Victoria' won a blue 1st place ribbon for its class, the Best Pink Hybrid Court of Honor rosette and the Novice Best Specimen rosette!!! 3 Ribbons! Wow!!! I think she was surprised that she had placed a flower in the Court of Honor - the best of the best flowers in the whole show! Little did she know another surprise awaited her...

Kris Wins 2 APS Court of Honor Ribbons
Tom & Kris with Peony 'Coral Scout'

As Kris was chatting with friends and fellow APS members about placing a flower on the Court of Honor, I decided to go over the rest of the table to see who else placed a flower there. I was surprised and excited to find another flower with her name on it, Peony 'Coral Scout', which won a blue 1st place ribbon in its class and the Best Coral Hybrid Court of Honor rosette. So not only had she placed a flower on the Court of Honor on her very first show, she had placed 2 flowers on the Court of Honor on her very first show! What an achievement!!! I could tell her husband, Tom, was very proud of her, and so were her entourage and fellow APS members - Deb and I!

Kris with Her Entourage
Adriana, Kris, & Deb

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

2019 Pay It Forward, Helping a Peony Exhibition Newbie at the APS Convention

Me, Deb, & Kris

This photo really captures the heart of the convention for me this year. I feel so proud to have spent so much time with the two ladies in this photo, working alongside them, getting to know them better, and teaming up to help Kris enter her first ever peonies into the 2019 American Peony Society Convention Exhibition. Kris has tirelessly served as the APS Treasurer for years, but had yet to enter any of her own peonies into the APS flower show. Since her garden was on tour this year, and she was a convention co-chair (she was just a tad busy), she hadn't thought much about entering any flowers into the show.

Kris Trimming a Peony
Kris in Her Garden

So that's where we came in. With just a little coaxing from Deb and myself, Kris agreed to enter some peonies into the exhibition. As long as we were a team, and she had a bit of guidance from someone who'd entered before (me), she was ready. I couldn't help but think of all the help that Mike & Becky Koster gave me at my first peony show. Without their help, I don't think I would have made it! They were the ones who guided me on how to get those tight peony buds to open - steam baths and field trips outside in the sun, 2015 American Peony Society Exhibition Preparation. I will be forever grateful to them for their help, dedication, and encouragement to me. So in some small way I was able to pay it forward to help Kris enter her first peony show. Somehow the joy you get from helping others succeed can touch you more deeply than your own success.

Kris Taking a Photo of a Peony Before She Cuts It

Kris was a hoot in the garden. At first she didn't want to cut any of the peony flowers. (I think she secretly really liked them better on the bush.) ;-) Eventually we were able to convince her to start cutting some. She did take a photo of each one and apologize to them before she cut them. I think this really illustrates her kind-heartedness. :-) By the time we had finished cutting peonies for the show, she had really gotten the hang of it, and wanted to cut even more. I think we trained her well, and she will be ready for next year's peony exhibitions. We ended up with quite a nice haul, and surely some ribbon-worthy peony blooms.

Kris Checking Out Potential Peonies

Show Flowers for the Peony Exhibition