Articles about Peony books
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Saturday, January 30, 2016

2016 Species in APS Handbook of the Peony 1st Edition

It was nice to take a little time for myself this past weekend and catch up on a little reading. I purchased the Manual of the American Peony Society First Edition (aka APS Handbook of the Peony 1st Edition) almost three years ago now (before my son Maddox!). Yikes! Yes, it got put to the side even though I was almost finished. However, a hot bath with some peony soaking salts from K. Hall Design Peony Products and a little free time netted me a few more pages. I was able to finish the section on species peonies. Apparently there was much confusion and many more categories of species peonies back when this book was written in 1928. The author links many of the species classes together noting there are little difference between x and y categories. It seems this topic has been subject to many revisions over the years with each plant discoverer and Paeonia genus researcher using their own methods of peony species classifications. It will be nice when one day all of them have been DNA mapped and we are able to classify them conclusively!

Manual of the American Peony Society
Plate XXXIX. Officinalis rubra plena

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

2014 American Peony Society Handbook on Ebay

I got an email this morning about an Ebay auction listing for the Manual of the American Peony Society from 1928. I purchased a copy of the Manual of the American Peony Society First Edition for myself last year, and I'm almost done reading it. There are a few boring parts - like several long lists of plant names. I must admit I skipped those parts. However there is quite a lot of interesting information on the history of peonies and the American Peony Society in the book. There are also several beautiful prints as well. The listing on Ebay has an opening bid of $15 with free shipping! This particular copy of the book was previously held in a library and appears to have some permanent ink on the spine that identified its location inside the library. Other than that it seems to be in good condition - better condition than my copy. I paid more than $30 for the copy I bought last year, and the binding is separately from the spine on my copy. So my copy is in quite sad shape. If you are looking to pick up a decent copy of the 1st Edition of the Manual of the American Peony Society, now may be an opportune time for you to place a bid on it. :-) Good luck!

First Edition Manual of the American Peony Society on Ebay

Sunday, December 29, 2013

2013 American Peony Society Bulletin Article -
Public Gardens Peony Donation Project

As promised here is the article I wrote for the December 2013 issue of the American Peony Society bulletin...

"When I first joined the American Peony Society board, I was asked to become the Publicity Chair for the APS. Unsure of the duties and responsibilities for the role, it seems I assumed by default a role that no one else claimed. This year my goal has been to get peonies planted at a local arboretum here in Raleigh, NC. The project is going well, and in the back of my mind I was hoping to continue the program, finding a new arboretum or public garden in need of peonies each year. The APS president, Dana Tretheway commented to me that I was doing a great job as a Publicity Chair working on this project to get peonies installed at a public garden. I guess I never thought of it as a part of my Publicity Chair duties. I just wanted to spread the love of peonies everywhere, but I guess that does kind of fit.

When I first approached Mark Weathington of the JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, NC, he seemed a bit reluctant and not quite as enthusiastic as I’d hoped about the prospects of so many new and free (to him) peonies. After several email exchanges I was able to set up an in person meeting with him to discuss the possibility of a peony donation on behalf of the American Peony Society. Since I am a board member local to his garden, I was willing to donate several varieties myself, and wanted to ensure the project would be a success.

The JC Raulston Arboretum

When I met Mark in person at the JC Raulston Arboretum, we got along fabulously, and after our discussion he seemed much more excited about the prospects of a large peony donation to his garden. The mission of his Arboretum is to educate the public on varieties of plants that perform well in the garden that they may have not have seen or been introduced to before. I thought that was perfect and informed him of the American Peony Society’s Award of Landscape Merit program which selects peonies “chosen for superior ornamental value, overall appearance in the landscape and throughout the growing season, and reliable performance across North America”.

Mark was quite excited to hear about this APS award and didn’t realize we had such a program. I also talked with him about our Gold Medal selections, and we discussed how and where these peonies might fit into his landscape. There are several different garden sections or rooms at the JC Raulston Arboretum, and Mark seemed to be interested in trying to fit peonies in all of them. He inquired about Itoh intersectional peonies since he’d heard how these were the latest and greatest peonies. However he did not have any in his collection. There is an Asian Valley garden that he was interested in adding some Asian tree peony cultivars and a rock garden that he wanted to add rock garden peonies too. For someone who didn’t have very many types of peonies currently represented at his garden, he sure was interested in all the different type of peonies.

After walking the garden together, I believe we only found 5 different types of peonies in the garden. After our meeting I asked Mark how many peonies he could plant if the APS board members were able to donate peonies for him. He said he could plant 40 or 50! Wow, that was great news! So off I went to solicit donations for the JC Raulston Arboretum. With the collaborative effort and good will of several APS members and a local plant nursery, we were able to donate over 40 peony varieties to him including APS Award of Landscape Merit selections, APS Gold Medal selections, Itoh Intersectional varieties, and several herbaceous peonies that would grow exceptionally well in North Carolina.

I’d like to thank the following donors for all of their help with this year’s Public Gardens Peony Donation Project: Adelman Peony Gardens, Adriana Feng, Homewood Nursery, Hollingsworth Peonies, Klehm’s Song Sparrow, and Jim & Lore Sampson of Rarity Gardens. I’m looking forward to seeing all of the peonies in bloom, and sharing those blooms with everyone! I’m also looking forward to the next Public Garden Peony Donation Project! :-)"

Since the publication of this article, the JC Raulston Arboretum has received an additional donation from Cricket Hill Garden. So on behalf of myself and the American Peony Society, I'd also like to add our thanks and appreciation to Cricket Hill Garden as well!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

2013 American Peony Society Bulletin Article - Longwood, Winterthur, and The Convention

As promised here is the article I wrote for the September 2013 issue of the American Peony Society bulletin...

"The 2013 American Peony Society Convention was in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania this year with the convention, competition, and auction being held at Longwood Gardens. Longwood Gardens was a magnificent place in size and grandeur with plenty of color in various garden rooms, rolling landscapes, fountains, and unending glass conservatories. An entire weekend would not be enough time to explore all they had to offer, had that much time been available to me. Although I visited for the weekend, the American Peony Society convention kept us all quite busy.

American Peony Society Welcome Bouquet
Displayed at Longwood Gardens Entrance

The peonies this year were quite a contrast to the peonies at last year’s convention. They were actually in bloom! There were several trial beds at Longwood Gardens that had been planted the previous fall containing Award of Landscape Merit peony plants that were donated by the APS. Amazingly many of those first year divisions were blooming, with sometimes more than one bloom per plant. It seemed like the trials were going quite well! Longwood Gardens also has several named varieties of herbaceous peonies planted interspersed within their perennial borders, and these mature peony plantings really stood out!

Lunch was served in the Longwood Gardens Founders Room. It was a beautiful dining room with an entire wall of windows offering a nice view of the greenery outside. The weather was warm, so lunch was a welcome respite from the heat of the day. The chilled water with citrus slices was my favorite way to cool down while waiting in line for lunch and chatting with and getting to know a fellow APS member from China. The food was outstanding. Everything was so fresh, and there was plenty to choose from – gourmet sandwiches, garden salad, pasta salad, and a selection of fresh sliced fruit, with cookies and brownies for dessert.

I attended the board meeting after lunch and took the remaining part of the afternoon to explore the gardens. Longwood Gardens’ official peony garden was a bit of a disappointment, containing only tree peonies, most of which had already finished blooming, and lots of irises – almost more irises than peonies! However after speaking with a member of the Longwood Gardens staff, I did find out they planned to renovate it in the future. In the evening after exploring the gardens there was a “Taste of Philly” picnic with Philly cheesesteak sandwiches and chips for dinner and snack cakes and Hershey (PA) chocolates for dessert.

American Peony Society Members Ready for the Flower Show

Saturday was a busy day with everyone bustling to get their peonies entered into the show and competition. Peony stems were sorted and clipped, entry tags were filled out, and vases were filled with water and flowers. Lots of peony growers were represented and volunteers from all over helped with running flower entries from the prep area in the kitchen and patio area out back to the exhibition tables and judging area inside the Longwood Gardens atrium. Finally it was time, and Dana Tretheway called for final entries. I participated as a judge for the first time this year, and it was quite exciting as well as a great learning experience.

American Peony Society Flower Show Judging

Eventually all of the ribbons had been placed, and all of the blue ribbon winners were collected for another round of judging. The most experienced judges were set to decide the best in show for several different categories, and then selected from these category winners, the APS Best in Show flower. Tree Peony ‘Boreas’ was awarded this top honor for 2013. After the judging was complete, the exhibition floor was opened to the public for viewing the vast number and variety of peony blossoms from all over the country.

American Peony Society Flower Show Competition Entry
Division 4, 401, Commercial Exhibit, Collection, 25-50 Cultivars

There were several seminars in the afternoon, and the banquet was held directly after in the stately Longwood Gardens ballroom. The ballroom was truly a sight to behold. Its grandeur matched only by the palatial fountains outside the atrium steps and the castlelike exterior of the conservatory itself. The room contained a large organ installed by Pierre du Pont, walls of pink satin and dark earthy wood paneling, and huge yet delicate crystal chandeliers that dimly lit the room for dining. Dana Tretheway held the APS general meeting, during which a new peony was dedicated to W.E.B. Du Bois, and the Bertrand H. Farr lifetime achievement award was bestowed upon Don Hollingsworth. Dinner was fit for royalty. There were beef medallions that melted in your mouth atop polenta with fresh seasonal veggies. There were three miniature strawberry desserts that all were unique and delectable in their own right.

Carol Adelman Presents the APS Bertrand H. Farr
Lifetime Achievement Award to Don Hollingsworth

After dinner the annual APS auction was held. This year Jim and Lore Sampson double teamed the auctioneer role, and did a great job! The auction list was very long, but everything was sold, with all proceeds benefiting the American Peony Society. There were several new and exclusive peony varieties that were bought for less than their retail value. So there were lots of deals to be had at this year’s auction.

The last day of the convention was spent at Winterthur. Although the house was not as grand as I’d expected, I was left wondering since we were only able to tour a portion of it. Apparently they rotate which sections and floors are open for touring to let sections of the collection ‘rest’. So the house was probably much larger than the impression I was left with after the tour. The Winterthur gardens were a marked contrast to those of Longwood. They were much more natural, laid back, and in some instances almost overgrown. It was as if many of the gardens remained just as they’d been left by their last owner, the landscape almost frozen and nature allowed to somewhat take back the formal areas. The did however have a much more mature plantings of tree and herbaceous peonies, which were nearing the end of the bloom season. The tree peonies were planted in a garden mostly shaded by tall trees, which could be viewed from a nearby peaceful, white, wooden gazebo. The herbaceous peony garden was slightly more formal laid out within and around a rounded stone pathway with a small garden bench along the edge to rest in.

All in all the 2013 American Peony Society Convention was a great success, and I look forward to the next one!"

Monday, July 29, 2013

2013 Manual of the American Peony Society First Edition

First Edition of the American Peony Society Handbook, 1928

I was lucky enough to find a copy of the first edition of the American Peony Society Manual on Ebay for about $30. Unfortunately, the book binding is not in the best condition. However, the print is still legible, and I have started reading it. It tells how the American Peony Society was originally formed, with their original purpose being to straighten out the rampant problem of mislabeled plants, duplications of names, and trying to determine which peonies should be kept in commerce and which discarded. It also gives a finalized list of these peonies with descriptions once they'd been properly identified, condensed, and approved. The next section is about growing the peony. Interestingly enough this section starts out with personal letters from growers all over the North American continent from Canada to Georgia, with all of the southern gardeners mentioning how they don't understand why northern gardeners always say that peonies don't do well in the south. It seems we southern gardeners are still trying to disprove this enduring myth! :-P

APS Handbook - Color Plate of Peony 'Solange'

APS Handbook - Color Plate of Peony 'Walter Faxon'

APS Handbook - Color Plate of Peony 'Mikado'

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

2013 Spring Peony Catalogs

I was sad to receive an email this year saying that Klehm's Song Sparrow will no longer be publishing a print catalog. The internet, that I love and with which I publish this blog, has created a different & cheaper way of communicating with customers. It is with great sorrow that I let go of these printed catalogs that I could read at my leisure, without having to pay an electricity bill to view them! I hope all of the other peony catalogs do not go this way. The only catalogs I've received this year were from Adelman Peony Gardens, Gilbert H. Wild, and Homestead Farms. Also I just received my American Peony Society bulletin last week, and in it there was a letter stating that Hollingsworth Peonies was sold and they will no longer be mailing a print catalog either. It seems they will only be publishing their catalog online now too. How sad. I hope the nursery continues to offer great peonies as it has in the past. I have gotten some great peonies and some great advice from Hollingsworth Peonies.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

2012 Shutterfly Hardcover Peony Book

I love Shutterfly. It lets me combine two things I love (peonies & photography) into something tangible! They have a great offer right now - a free 8X8 hardcover photo book with the coupon code SUMMERBOOK. Today is the last day, though. I am such a procrastinator! :-P However I did get my 2012 Peony book finished today. The price is usually $29.99 + $8.53 shipping. With the coupon code you just play $8.53 for shipping, a great deal! Shutterfly has a nice interface that allows you to use different photo layouts, backgrounds, fonts, etc. I have just created a blank template for myself to use each year for my peony photo book. I like the simplicity of a white background. It contrasts nicely with the bright colors of the peony flowers. If you're looking for a nice way to get some photos printed into a photo book, I would definitely recommend Shutterfly. I've been using them for years now, and I have always been impressed by their quality and customer service.

Shutterfly Peony Book Layout

Shutterfly Peony Book Preview

Monday, September 3, 2012

2012 APS Bulletin Article - Peony Weekend Panoply

Yay! I got the latest issue of the APS Peony Bulletin - September 2012 with my article in it. How exciting! Here's a reprint of the article. Enjoy!

The 2012 American Peony Society Convention was held in Omaha, Nebraska this year, and despite the lack of a local ‘host’ peony club, the convention was well organized, had a great showing of flowers, and had lots of extra activities to keep you busy!

On Friday we visited Joslyn Castle. The grounds of the Joslyn Castle were rich, well landscaped, and nicely manicured. However their beauty did not rival that of the castle. Though it lacked the company of its original furniture, the castle was finely appointed in detail and craftsmanship. From the tiny mosaic inlaid tile to the hand carved mantels and archways, the time and attention to detail was obvious. One of my favorite features was a set of 3 stained glass windows nestled above a comfy cushioned window seat overlooking a tiny yet full and lush conservatory of moisture loving plants including ferns, tropical foliage, and orchids. It also contained a small waterfall and pond, with the noise from the water feature bringing an element of the outdoors inside which, I’m sure, was enjoyed with even greater pleasure in the winter months. Unfortunately the peony bloom season had already passed. So the century old peonies boasted only bare foliage and cut flower stems.

After visiting the castle we headed to Mahoney State Park to visit the Sass Memorial Gardens. The flowers came super early this year to the Sass Memorial Gardens. So we missed them by about a month. However the lack of a distracting abundant floral display gave additional opportunities for the APS members to socialize and discuss the drastic difference in the weather this year and how it affected their own peony bloom seasons.

After visiting the State Park, we headed to Lauritzen Gardens for lunch and a tour. Lunch was simple, but delicious, and a welcome break. The catered lunch was held in the Lauritzen Gardens indoor atrium which was filled with lush tropical plants including beautiful hot pink bougainvillea tree. The Award of Landscape Merit training meeting given by Don Hollingsworth immediately followed the lunch. APS members had their choice of the ALM meeting or additional tour time in the garden. Lauritzen Gardens was a beautiful garden with a contrasting mix of nicely manicured, carefully landscaped areas and fields of wildflowers and open natural areas. In addition to a peony garden, there was also a rose garden, a Victorian garden, a miniature train garden, and much more.

The 2012 American Peony Society flower show was huge even though most of the growers complained about their seasons. I think they were just trying to set the judges' expectations a bit low so they could shine. Everyone was busy with preparations on Saturday morning trying to get ready for the cut off before the judging of the show. The color of Peony 'Hephestos' must have captured the hearts of the judges this year. What a rare and dark color, which is fitting for the god of blacksmiths. It won the Court of Honor for Best Red Lutea Hybrid, and also the Grand Champion Peony, Best of Show ribbon.

The social hour started early and lasted long. The room was cold, but the hearts were warm as everyone socialized and waited for the business meeting and banquet dinner to begin. The business meeting was short and sweet with three new board members elected. The buffet dinner was tasty with beef, salmon, mashed potatoes, veggies, salad, and bread. We all listened to a presentation on the Sass Brothers’ hybridizing feats including all of the medals they’d won over the years. One of the highlights of the talk was the announcement that he’d brought the actual 1943 APS Gold Medal that the Sass Brothers had been awarded (for Peony ‘Elsa Sass’) for everyone to view. The APS Editor, Claudia Shroer, made sure we all had our dessert, and it was very good, a red velvet cake. However the peony auction may have been even better. Lucas Hudson, the APS Secretary, conducted a lively APS peony auction as usual, and there were lots of rare and prized peony varieties to bid on.

If you didn’t make it to the convention this year, make plans to attend next year which I’m sure will be even bigger and better! :-)

Monday, August 6, 2012

2012 Carolina Country Old Peonies for New Gardens

I was delighted to see an article on peonies in latest issue of Carolina Country magazine. Carolina Country is a free magazine that's published by my electric cooperative and has several features every month. One of the feature sections is on gardening, and this month there is an article called 'Old Peonies for New Gardens' by L.A. Jackson. It goes over several tips for planting peonies in our area like planting peonies in September, growing them in 6 hours of sun, a planting hole at least 18" deep X 12" wide, and planting no more than 2 inches deep. I agree with most of what he says. However I never plant my peonies 2 inches deep. I plant them pretty much even with the surface, with their pink eyes just barely peeking out. He also mentions, "Setting peony divisions too deep is one of the main reasons these beauties fail to flower.", with which I wholeheartedly agree! That's probably the most important thing in the whole article! It is very important to plant peonies as close to the surface as possible. He also mentions some "time-tested" varieties for southern gardens: Peony 'Felix Crousse' (raspberry red double), Peony 'Festiva Maxima' (white double), Peony 'Flame' (red single), Peony 'Monsieur Jules Elie' (pink double), Peony 'Nymphe' (pink single), and Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt' (pink double). I grow all of these selections, and they have all bloomed for me here in my zone 7 southern garden. So these are all probably safe bets. :) Happy Gardening!

Monday, June 11, 2012

2012 APS Convention Peony Book Sale

I got one new book at the 2012 American Peony Society convention this year. It was a book recommended by Don Hollingsworth in his Peony Breeders session. It's called 'The American Hybrid Peony', and it was published by the American Peony Society in 1990. I have already started reading it, and just by reading the first few pages, I can already tell that the book is geared toward peony growers in cooler climates / USDA growing zones than mine. It tells you to plant your peony at least 1-2 inches below the soil. However I always plant mine even with the soil in my zone 7b garden. Perhaps in the next version they can include information for warmer growing climates. However I'm sure the information contained therein will still be valuable just to absorb years and perhaps decades of experience with peonies. The book also has loads of color photos of herbaceous hybrid peonies and species peonies. If you want to get your own copy of the lovely green hardback book entitled 'The American Hybrid Peony', you can purchase your book online from the APS Publications Page or through the APS Editor (and new publications director) Claudia Schroer.

'The American Hybrid Peony'

Sunday, June 10, 2012

2012 Peony Mail Day

Wow, yesterday must have been Peony Mail Day. I only got three things in the mail yesterday, and all 3 pieces of mail were about peonies. I think this is the best mail day I've had in a while. I got the latest issue of the American Peony Society Bulletin (a benefit of APS Membership), a confirmation letter from Adelman Peony Gardens concerning the peony I won in the APS Peony Auction at the 2012 APS Convention, and a book I ordered from Shutterfly with pictures from my 2011 peony bloom season. The APS Bulletin was the June 2012 issues, which is nice, but I'll definitely be looking forward to getting the next one since it will have my first APS Bulletin Article in it! The peony I won from Adelman Peony Gardens in the APS Auction was Peony 'Halcyon' which is a Saunders hybrid and will go in the Saunders Peony Garden. The book I ordered from Shutterfly, which really does a nice job with their hardback photo books, has my favorite picture from my 2011 peony bloom season on the front. It is Peony 'Lavender' and 2011 was the first year it bloomed for me.

Peony Mail

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

2012 American Peony Society Bulletin Article

Woo hoo! I've been asked to write an article for the American Peony Society Bulletin's September issue. That is really exciting. I've been an APS member since 2005, and I've thought it might be nice to submit an article to them in the future, but I got asked to write an article about the 2012 American Peony Society Convention. Okay, maybe it's not that big of a deal, but it seems like a big deal to me! I guess I'm just a peony nerd! :) Don't worry, I'll still be publishing up to the minute updates on the convention here, but the bulletin will contain a nice summary with highlights and pictures of the whole thing. Stay tuned more to come... Oh, and if you want to start getting your own copies of The American Peony Society Bulletin, become an APS Member!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

2010 APS Peony Books

I purchased two books while I was at the 2010 American Peony Society Convention this year. Those books were 'Peonies 1997-2007' and 'The Best of 75 Years; 1904-1979' The green book 'Peonies 1997-2007' is normally $34.00 which they sold for $30.00, and the blue book 'The Best of 75 Years; 1904-1979' is normally $20.00 which they sold for $15.00 at the convention. So it was a good opportunity to get these books at a discounted price. The green book was highly recommended to me by Reiner Jakubowski, the registrar of the APS and also the author of the book. He said it was an excellent reference for anyone interested in hybridizing. Also it sounds like he put a lot of work into the publication correcting mistakes in past editions.