Wednesday, August 8, 2012

2012 New Dirt for New Peony Beds

Woo hoo! I got my dirt for my new peony beds today! I am so excited. As you can see there are two mountains of dirt for me to work on. One mountain of dirt is for my new intersectional peony bed, and the other is for my new peony seedling test bed. Now that my Peony Bed Soil Solarization project is complete, I had my new dirt delivered this week. This new dirt is much better than the clay subsoil beneath it. So this should make for a nutrient rich mix of soil for my new peony beds. Now I just need to spread it out and mix it into the subsoil a bit. You can see my APS Gold Medal peony garden and Saunders' peony garden in the background of the intersectional peony bed picture. In the background of the peony seedling test bed picture, you can see the old peony seedling test bed. I am so excited about this new dirt. I have brought good soil in for my vegetable garden before, but never for my peonies. All of my current peonies are just planted right in whatever zone 7 dirt happens to be in my garden, and they grow and bloom just fine. So I can't wait to see the difference this good quality dirt is going to make!
New Dirt for Intersectional Peony Bed

New Dirt for Peony Test Seedling Bed

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!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

2012 Peony Bed Soil Solarization

Wow! I just came back home to find the sun had done a great job not only solarizing my soil, but also my plastic sheeting! I put down a clear plastic sheet to solarize the soil for my Intersectional Peony Bed Preparation in the middle of June. The plastic sheet I used for the intersectional peony bed was not new. It was a few years old. It held up pretty well until last week when it started to get a few tears in it, but when I came back and took a look at it yesterday, it was half gone and in shreds! So I guess the bed is officially solarized! The ground looks pretty sterile, and it has been a little over 6 weeks now since I first put the plastic sheeting down. It usually takes about 4-6 weeks to complete the soil solarization. So I guess the plastic sheeting held up just long enough! Now the planting bed should be ready for the new, good soil to go on top and get mixed in - after I have fun picking up all of the plastic bits, of course! ;-)

Intersectional Peony Bed Soil Solarized

I also started another soil solarization project a couple weeks after the first one for a new peony seedling test bed. I used a newer plastic sheet, and this one seems to be holding up much better. As you can see the weeds and grass underneath the plastic are all dead and brown. So this bed should be ready soon too. Maybe I can get the dirt next week!

Peony Seedling Test Bed Soil Solarization

Sunday, July 22, 2012

2012 New Intersectional Peony Foliage

After quite a long hot and dry spell with 90-100 degree days, it has been nice to get some rain from summer thunderstorms and a bit cooler temperatures. I'm sure my peonies have appreciated it as well. The foliage on my newly planted intersectional peonies seems to be progressing nicely. All four of them have nice green foliage now three weeks after planting them. The foliage is a mix between a tree peony's foliage and an herbaceous peony's foliage since intersectional peonies are a cross between these two types. Tree peonies have woody stems that generate new growth each year while herbaceous peonies have soft stems that grow anew and die back to the ground each year. It is recommended to cut back the intersectional peony foliage to the ground each year, but I have found in my southern climate that some of the woody stem can be left over the winter and will generate new growth and blooms the next year. See my post on 2011 Peony Experiments - Intersectional Blooms for more information and pictures.
Peony 'Canary Brilliant'
Peony 'Lemon Dream'
Peony 'Old Rose Dandy'
Peony 'Scarlet Heaven'

Friday, July 13, 2012

2012 Peony Reference Site - Web Project Paeonia

So you've always wondered if the peony variety you have is labeled correctly? Or maybe you want to know the hybridizer for your peony. Or perhaps you want to know the bloom season for a peony you saw and are interested in. Well, I'll tell you what. There's this site I really like. It is the best peony reference site out there. No, it's not the Wikipedia. (Although there is some interesting information there, it definitely leaves something to be desired.) The site is Carsten Burkhardt's Web Project Paeonia. I have used this web site for years for peony identification and information. It is really an awesome resource for the peony community. I hope you find it as useful as I have. So go look up your favorite blooms. Oh, and be careful. You can get lost in there!!! :)

Carsten Burkhardt's Web Project Paeonia