Tuesday, March 17, 2020

2020 Black Purple Emerging Foliage of Peony 'Dark Chocolate' to Die For!

Peony 'Dark Chocolate'

I couldn't help but notice (again!) the foliage on herbaceous Peony 'Dark Chocolate'! Even if the flowers weren't super cool, the foliage on this bad boy would be awesome enough of a reason to grow it! As you can see the foliage is a purple-black color, and even with a flash photo and lots of fill light, the color of the foliage is still quite dark. It is very different than your normal pink/green emerging foliage. The leaves will eventually turn green, but in the meantime, I'm enjoying the rare color of the foliage. It is really cool to see all of the different emerging foliage colors.

Peony 'Dark Chocolate' (Flash Photo)

Peony 'Dark Chocolate'

I don't have any peony flowers open here yet. So it is nice to have some cool things to entertain you in the garden while we anticipate those large, colorful blooms. It is fun to watch the new foliage emerging on all kinds of garden plants. It always looks so clean, bright, and fresh - free from disease, fungal infections, or pest damage. Spring is definitely the best season! I hope you have lots of peony foliage colors popping up in your garden. If not, now might be the time to add some peonies with cool foliage colors to your Peony Wish List to order and plant this fall!

Peony 'Dark Chocolate' (Flash Photo)

Sunday, March 15, 2020

2020 Free Mulch for My Peony Beds!

Free Mulch for Peony Beds

Looks like Friday the 13th was my lucky day! I got a call while I was working that day from Tony, my favorite mulch guy, to see if I wanted any mulch. Of course I did!! I had been thinking about calling my favorite tree service to see if they had any, but have been quite busy lately and had not made the call. He must have known I needed it. :-) He said it was only a small half load. That's fine with me! I'll take what I can get (especially when it is free)! Here in the South mulching is an important part of growing peonies! We have a much longer, hotter, and drier summer than many other parts of the country where peonies are grown. So protecting the plants from the stress of extended droughts and high heat during the summer months is essential.

Free Mulch for Peony Beds

As you can see some of the mulch fell on top of my grass, which is not good for the grass. I have had my grass die in the past when I've gotten an especially large load of mulch directly on the grass or partially covering the grass. If you don't get the mulch off the grass quick enough, it will die from lack of sunlight and overheating (large mulch piles can get quite hot!). Luckily, I was able to get all of this mulch spread out yesterday. After 31 loads in my Gorilla Cart, my husband came back from playing soccer with my son and volunteered to load up some mulch for me. I gladly accepted his help, as I was pretty tired by this point. He helped me with the last 3 loads, and we were able to finish it all! I put a large part of it on my front garden bed, which contains a magnolia tree, tree peonies, herbaceous peonies & double daylilies. I think it turned out pretty nice. :-)

Front Garden Bed with New Mulch

Saturday, March 14, 2020

2020 Tree Peony Seeds from Luoyang, China Grow!!

Tree Peony Seedling #2 on 3/9

I was beginning to give up on those tree peony seeds from China, 2018 Planting Tree Peony Seeds from Luoyang China, but it looks like they are starting to germinate this year! I stared at some empty dirt and kept picking weeds out of the area last year hoping to find a sprout, but never did. After not seeing anything pop up yet this year, I thought there was no hope for them this year, until I saw a seedling pop up in that area a week or so ago. Even then I was suspicious whether that seedling came from one of the seeds from China or just some random lost or rogue seed in the bed. When I looked for that first seed a few days later the bed was empty - no seedling. I began to wonder whether some underground (or above ground?) critter got the roots and/or seedling. I imagined some animal just sucking it underground, since the tree peony seedling was nowhere in sight.

Tree Peony Seedling #1 on 3/9

After spending some time pulling some miniature weeds from the seedling bed, I finally discovered that first seedling (Tree Peony Seedling #1 pictured above). As you can see it was either killed by some low overnight temperatures (which we did experience) or some kind of fungal wilt. The cold temperatures can also cause the wilt. So it is really hard to say what the culprit was in this case (but some corroborating evidence may exist for the cold theory, as I've noticed some selected tips of other new plants with burnt - dried & blackened - tips). So I think this tree peony seedling may have experienced cold burn/freeze damage. That's very sad. This is the first year this peony tried to grow a leaf, and it got knocked down. I don't think this one will be able to come back next year. I guess that is just part of nature's selection process.

Tree Peony Seedling Signs

Tree Peony Seedling #2 on 3/12

I guess you could say the biggest fail with these seeds are the signs. I took a lot of time to figure out how to plant these seeds with their signs since the peonies I purchased had no names on the flower only pictures. I even purchased some special Black & Decker UV plastic laminate to laminate them with. As you can see that laminate was not really UV protected. Too bad about the false advertising on those laminating sheets. These signs didn't even last 1 full year before fading. The flowers photos were all so beautiful and colorful when I put them on there. Oh well, at least I took a photo of them and scanned them into the computer before I put them outside in the sun to fade! LOL

Tree Peony Seedling #3 with Signs

These tree peony seedlings are definitely having some challenges. As you can see Tree Peony Seedling #3 (pictured below) looks like it had 2 tiny stems originally, and one of them looks like it has already been bitten off. I hope some of these Chinese tree peony seedlings make it through Mother Nature's wrath into adulthood in a few years, so that I may see their beautiful blossoms. I'm just hoping that they aren't all single, white Paeonia ostii seeds/seedlings. Only time will tell...

Tree Peony Seedling #3

Friday, March 13, 2020

2020 Peony Experiments - Adventitious Roots Results, Peony 'Grace Root'

Peony 'Grace Root' Sign

Well, I guess you could say this Experiment is a failure. It's been almost 5 years since I planted those Peony 'Grace Root' root tips, 2015 Peony Experiments - Planting Adventitious Roots, and nothing has grown from them. Maybe next time I will try actually cutting pieces close to the crown of the plant and/or cutting larger pieces. The root tips I planted for this experiment were just small pieces that happened to break off from the Peony 'Grace Root' plant when I was digging it to be divided (so that I could donate a root to a local arboretum). I can also say with confidence that I did not pay those root pieces any special attention - no watering, no fertilizing, no nothing - just time. Upon digging in the soil I found no traces of those root pieces either. So I'm guessing they dried up and disintegrated. Oh well, on to the next!

Peony 'Grace Root' Adventitious Root Test Bed

Thursday, March 12, 2020

2020 Bye Bye Imposter Itohs, Hello Favorite Intersectional Peonies!!

Intersectional Peony 'Yumi' in Japanese Garden

I got tired of every year hoping the intersectional peonies I had right outside my back door were going to be beautiful intersectional peony plants filled with lush, full double blossoms. They were supposed to be Intersectional Peony 'Impossible Dream' and Intersectional Peony 'Yumi'. Both were imposters, intersectional peonies - they were, but the named cultivars they claimed to be - they were not. I purchased both of them from the same seller on Ebay, atskor8, 2018 Ebay Peony Seller Reviews, and they both turned out to be mostly single, yellow intersectional peonies with a very small number of flowers of small size and unimpressive qualities. It was especially disappointing since I had these planted in some of the most prime real estate in the garden, with partially protected, mostly moist, sunny locations!

Intersectional Peony 'Yumi'

Every year I keep thinking that I've already ripped out the imposters and replaced them with "real" cultivars, and every spring I am disappointed again. So this year before they bloomed, I finally remembered that I still needed to take those lame peonies out of my best spots and put in something good! I had already ordered a replacement for Intersectional Peony 'Yumi' from a different vendor on Ebay in 2016, garden*breeze, whose product turned out to be authentic. So I just needed to get rid of that imposter, which ended up in the compost pile, and put the real one in its place. Easy peasy.

Intersectional Peony 'Bartzella' in Deck Garden

As for the imposter Intersectional Peony 'Impossible Dream', that one too went to the compost pile. In keeping with the yellow theme in that area, I decided to put a division of Intersectional Peony 'Bartzella' in its place. Intersectional Peony 'Bartzella' really is one of the best intersectional peonies there is. It is an APS Gold Medal Winner and has also been awarded the APS Award of Landscape Merit. It is also a Southern Peony Best Performer and consistently puts on a show every year, 2012 Peony 'Bartzella' Best Performer - Week 5. I am excited to see both of these gorgeous intersectional peonies take off in their new spots!!!

Intersectional Peony 'Bartzella'