Friday, May 6, 2016

2016 Peony 'Takara' (Treasure) Best Performer - Week 5

Peony 'Takara' 慈悲 (Treasure) aka 'Smith Opus 2' is another one of the peonies in Monrovia's Japanese Itoh Collection that was hybridized by Don R. Smith. This bush surprised me this year with its beauty and blooms this week in the mid late season. The flowers on this plant are more like a single. However, the color of the blooms is just gorgeous, with a pink orange color in the center of the petals with a wide picotee edge of an almost pink lavender color. Then the center of the blooms have hot pink red center flares that kind of form a star pattern! The blooms themselves may be single, but they are huge! If you are looking for another valuable and worthy intersectional peony to add to your collection, Peony 'Takara' 慈悲 (Treasure) is it!

Peony 'Takara' 慈悲 (Treasure)
'Smith Opus 2'
Southern Peony Best Performer

Peony 'Takara' 慈悲 (Treasure)
'Smith Opus 2'
Southern Peony Best Performer

Thursday, May 5, 2016

2016 Intersectional Peony Blooms Late Mid - Week 5

The intersectional peonies in my garden have really been at their peak this week. This is the week that the majority of the cultivars began to open, and there are also the most total intersectional peony blooms of any week so far. The beauty of these blooms just blows me away. (BTW - You can click on any of these photos to see a larger than life sized version, so you can be blown away as well!) Peony 'Cora Louise' has the largest blooms of all of the intersectional peonies in this group. Peony 'Cora Louise' has pastel white blossoms with dark purple flares that radiate out from the center. The deep red flares on Peony 'Misaka' really impressed me this year. The red flares on this light orange peony extend further out into the bloom, and the symmetry of the petals make this a gorgeous bloom viewed from all angles - from above and from the side. Peony 'Julia Rose' and Peony 'Hillary' both have bright, pleasing pink red shades that aren't often found in herbaceous peonies. The vivid, intense colors of Peony 'Yellow Emperor' and Peony 'Scarlet Heaven' really catch your eye and make them standouts in the garden that are visible from afar.
Intersectional Peony
'Cora Louise'
Intersectional Peony
'Julia Rose'
Intersectional Peony
Intersectional Peony
'Scarlet Heaven'
Intersectional Peony
'Yellow Emperor'
Intersectional Peony
'Misaka' 美 (Beautiful Blossom)

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

2016 Peony Blooms Late Mid - Week 5

The blooms this week are fuller and richer in form and color. Even though we've had quite a bit of rain, the foliage has stayed mostly disease free since it is in a more mature state. If we would have gotten this much rain earlier in the season, the peonies would have been in trouble. Despite the rain, I was able to capture several sunny photos of some of my favorite blooms this week. Wow! This week's Late Mid Week 5 photos are almost entirely a lineup of American Peony Society Gold Medal Winners. Peony 'Salmon Dream', Peony 'White Cap', Peony 'Many Happy Returns', Peony 'Do Tell' and Peony 'Kansas' have all been awarded this honor. All of these selection generally do well here except Peony 'Many Happy Returns'. I may get a few blooms from this plant before its twisted foliage becomes diseased. Peony 'Red Grace' is an awesome plant and surpasses the beauty of Peony 'Red Charm' (a standard of reds) in my opinion. If you like red, Peony 'Red Grace' is a must grow!
Peony 'Salmon Dream'
Peony 'White Cap'
Peony 'Red Grace'
Peony 'Many Happy Returns'
Peony 'Do Tell'
Peony 'Kansas'

Monday, May 2, 2016

2016 Southern Peony Grandma's Peonies

This past Friday I went to visit my Grandma and see her flower garden. She is the reason I wanted to grow peonies. My Grandma always has always had the best and biggest flower garden of anyone in our family, and I loved helping her in her flowers when I was a child. She likes to tell everyone the story of how I would stay outside deadheading flowers in her garden for her, long after she and my cousin had grown tired and gone inside. We took this photo in her garden on Friday. These two white peonies are some divisions from one of the original peony bushes she had in her garden when I was young. Back then Grandma's peony bushes seemed to be 4 or 5 feet tall, and the flowers were huge and smelled so good! Either I had quite the imagination or I was just much smaller and the perspective made them seem like giants! I'm guessing these "giant" double peonies are Peony 'Festiva Maxima' since they are fragrant, large, white double peonies with a few specks of red in the center. I love my grandmother very much and I feel very grateful to her for giving me the love of gardening, flowers, and especially peonies!

My Grandma and Me with her White Double Peonies

Sunday, May 1, 2016

2016 Peonies for Spring Carolina Plant Swap

Southern Peony Seedlings for the Plant Swap

Yesterday was the Spring Carolina Plant Swap, and I spent the morning digging some of my most successful plants that needed a bit of dividing for donation to the plant swap. This is one of my favorite gardening events besides the American Peony Society Convention (which is coming up in less than one month!) This Carolina Plant Swap event happens twice a year, and I usually try to make it to at least one per year, two if I can. It is a great way to try plants you wouldn't normally grow (or pay for), and some plants that grow really well in your area, and even some plants you've never seen before! I always try to bring a couple peonies to help increase interest in the plant here in the South. Peonies can and do grow well here in the South - the biggest key is not planting the roots too deep. If you'd like to find a garden swap in your area to exchange plants (and hopefully help spread the love of peonies), I'd recommend signing up for an account on, (previously GardenWeb, now called Houzz), finding the forum for your area and then looking at the Exchange forum, which is listed as a Related forum at the top of the page. Good Luck!

Southern Peony Pink Peony Seedlings