Wednesday, October 26, 2011

2011 Peony Kincaid Garden Markers and Labels

I planted my peonies a week ago, although I realized I had run out of plant markers for them. For the last few years I have been using Kincaid Gardens 100% Stainless Steel Plant Markers, and they have been awesome. They don't rust, are very sturdy, and definitely last longer than any other plant markers I've tried. So last week I put temporary labels on the new peony plantings, and today I'm replacing them with the Kincaid Gardens plant markers that I just received in the mail this week. They are definitely more expensive than other plant markers, but they also last! Here's a link to their site if you're interested... Kincaid Gardens I also use Brother P-Touch Extra Strength Adhesive Tape for printing the peony labels, which also last for years. I haven't had any of those fade or peel yet, and I've been using those for a few years now as well. Happy planting!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

2011 Fall Peony Orders

Last minute! I guess you get whatever's left when you order last minute. There were several varieties I wanted to order, but have now sold out. I think there was only one variety sold out of those I was interested in when I looked last month. So I thought it would be okay to wait another month. I guess everyone else did too! So these are my final selections for my fall peony order this year. I really like the color and center on Peony 'Ann Berry Cousins'. Peony 'Carina' and Peony 'Nova' are both selections from hybridizer A.P. Saunders and will go in my Saunders peony garden. Peony 'Border Charm' and Peony 'Cream Delight' are both somewhat yellow in color which is a rare color for peonies. Peony 'Buckeye Belle' is an American Peony Society Gold Medal Winner. So all of these flowers should make excellent additions to my collection...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

2011 Fall Is For Peony Planting!

So I got a copy of the Fall 2011 Creative Ideas magazine in the mail from Lowe's home improvement store. There was a page about fall being the optimum time to plant, and peonies were listed as one of their suggested plants (which I think is awesome). However they described peonies as "old-fashioned flowers". I can't decide if this is a good thing or a bad thing as far as publicity for the flower is concerned. There are many varieties of modern peonies and loads more colors to choose from than what people think of as the traditional "old-fashioned" peony varieties i.e. pink, red, and white double style herbaceous peonies. I guess "old-fashioned" could also mean that they can stand the test of time, but I'm not sure that's the idea most people would get from that adjective. The magazine also suggests that peonies be planted in "rich soil with the crowns 2 inches below the soil." However if you plant your peony like that here in NC (which interestingly enough is where Lowe's home improvement is based) you may not get any blooms. I plant all of my peonies with the crowns right at soil level. When I first tried to grow my own peonies, I followed the directions on the box that my peony came in. (I know, I know, the box was a bad sign, but I didn't know that back then.) The box said to plant the root 3-4 inches below the soil. That poor peony. There was never even a chance it would create a bud. It was fighting just to get leaves up to the light! It grew several years and the number of stems slowly increased, but never a bud! Anyway, I guess it's good that peonies are being advertised as one of "the" plants to plant in the fall. I guess I should get busy...

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

2011 Gold Medal Peony Performance

I've been growing a "Gold Medal" peony garden for a few years now. The peonies that I grow in this garden are American Peony Society Gold Medal Recipients. So this year I decided to do an evaluation of the varieties that I grow. I don't grow all of the Gold Medal varieties (there are over 50 of them, of which I grow 30). So I'll just evaluate some of the varieties I do have. According the APS web site, the criteria for awarding the Gold Medal is, "The criteria for recent years was written to emphasize qualities important to most of the peony growing public, which included availability, dependable performance, the absence of the need for mechanical support, good plant habit and good foliage throughout the growing season and reasonably priced in relation to its variety and originator."
Sturdiest (Not Needing Support) - Peony 'Bartzella'

Best Foliage - Peony 'Old Faithful'

I think in my climate (and of the APS Gold Medal peonies that I grow), Peony 'Bartzella' and Peony 'Old Faithful' take the cake. Both of their blooms are gorgeous, plus they stay great looking well into late summer. Peony 'Bartzella' is an intersectional peony and has lovely giant yellow blooms. Peony 'Old Faithful' is of a much smaller stature, but grows beautifully and has red blooms of a color that is hard to find.

Floppiest (Needs Support) - Peony 'Myra MacRae'

Peony 'Myra MacRae' is one of the floppiest peonies I have ever grown. If you want this one to grow without lying on the ground, you'll definitely need supports. Peony 'Salmon Dream' and Peony 'Many Happy Returns' both have foliage that disappears. However I think the blooms on Peony 'Salmon Dream' make up for its foliage, and early dieback is expected as with most peonies with a coral color. However Peony 'Many Happy Returns' really disappoints. Its flowers are nice, but the foliage is always diseased and dies back way too early for a peony of this color. This is a recently honored APS Gold Medal winner (2007) which really mystifies me, considering one of the qualifications for the APS Gold Medal is "good plant habit and good foliage throughout the growing season", which this flower does not seem to possess, at least in my southern climate...
Worst Foliage (Dieback)
Peony 'Salmon Dream'
Worst Foliage (Dieback, Disease)
Peony 'Many Happy Returns'

Monday, August 29, 2011

2011 The Peony & the Praying Mantis

The Peony & the Praying Mantis. It sounds like the title of a book. Hmm... Anyway I was working on collecting more data for 2011 in my peony garden today, and I was thrilled to see a praying mantis on one of my long spent peony blooms. The spent bloom and the praying mantis were the exact same color, dark brown, so the mantis blended in with the bloom stem quite nicely. He definitely kept me entertained for bit in what otherwise can be at times a somewhat dull task. I was privileged to witness these praying mantis acrobatics so I just had to share... :-)