Friday, June 29, 2012

2012 Ebay Peony Order - American Greenhouses

I decided to buy some Peonies on Ebay last week, and they arrived yesterday. The label on the Priority Mail box they arrived in said they were from American Greenhouses, Hosta Gardens of Burr Ridge. It appears that this company imports many of their plants, and the plants I received appear to have been purchased for resale, not grown by the seller. The peonies were packed with peat moss inside brown paper bags. These peonies have not yet had food, water, or sunlight this year. It is almost July here, well into summer, so I will try to baby these plants in hopes they are able to establish some roots this year. The buds on the peonies had already sprouted, and they are all past ready to leaf out. So hopefully with some sun, soil, and water, they will survive.

Ebay Intersectional Peony Order

Intersectional Peony Bare Roots

This morning after I unpacked the roots, I put them each in a bowl of water to soak for a few hours. Hopefully this will restore a bit of moisture to the roots before I plant them out. I think since my Intersectional Peony Bed is not yet ready for plants, I will plant these in my seedling test bed until this fall. By then the Intersectional Peony Bed should be ready for planting, and I will move these peonies when the weather is cooler.

Peony Roots Soaking in Bowls of Water

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

2012 Peony Viruses

A couple of my peonies have been affected by viruses. The virus seems to affect the same peonies every year. I don't think there is anything you can really do to get rid of it. Viruses in humans are not curable by any medicine, the symptoms can be controlled or suppressed, but the immune system of the body is the only thing that can actually defeat the disease. So either the peony would have to fend it off on its own or find a way to live with it. It seems that most of the time peonies can live with a virus without the plant being too adversely impacted. Also I've noticed that several of the peonies I have planted in shade have a virus. So it seems like peonies that are stressed because they are not planted in ideal conditions are more susceptible to viruses. Those virus infected peonies that I have seem to bloom just fine and are able to increase as well. Most of the time, the foliage of the entire plant is not affected. Sometimes only a portion of the plant is diseased. I'd be curious to see if you divided the plant and threw away the infected portion if the plant would be virus free or if the virus would come back the next year. That may be an experiment for another day...

Peony 'Duchesse de Nemours' with Mosaic Virus

Peony 'Laura Dessert' with Mosaic Virus

Sunday, June 24, 2012

2012 Peony Questions and Topics

I received a question on growing peonies as a comment on one of my posts. I would like this site to be as helpful to others as possible. So to that end, I would like to invite you to send me your peony questions, concerns, or topics you'd like me to cover. It doesn't matter how crazy or silly it might be, as long as it pertains to peonies, send it in! I will also creating a permanent link for Questions on the front page. So if you've got some burning question, that you'd love to have answered, please send it in. I'd be happy to answer any questions I know the answer to, try to research it for you if I don't have the data, and possibly even do some experiments to get an answer! You can contact me by email Send Your FAQ to Southern Peony. Also if you'd like to subscribe to this blog, you can do so here Subscribe to Southern Peony by Email.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

2012 Peonies on Ebay

I decided to buy some intersectional peonies on Ebay this week. I ended up paying about $40 each with shipping. So the prices were reasonable for intersectional peonies, since they are usually much more expensive than herbaceous peonies. I am curious to see them when they arrive. I've purchased peonies on Ebay before in the past, but never Itoh Intersectional Peonies. It will be quite obvious when the peony roots arrive if they are actually intersectional peonies or herbaceous peonies. I've actually had pretty good luck getting the correctly labeled peony varieties on Ebay (better than Wild's). :) I'm sure it depends on the vendor, though. So hopefully these will be the correct varieties. I'm wondering if they are tissue culture peonies or actual root divisions. Also I'm curious to see how they perform, grow, and bloom. The varieties I got were: Peony 'Canary Brilliants', Peony 'Lemon Dream', Peony 'Old Rose Dandy', and Peony 'Scarlet Heaven'. All but one of them were hybridized by Roger Anderson and registered in 1999. Peony 'Old Rose Dandy' was hybridized by Laning and registered in 1993. I'm really looking forward to receiving these intersectional peonies and hope to get them into my new intersectional peony garden bed soon!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

2012 Intersectional Peony Bed Preparation

Since I decided to create a new bed for my intersectional peonies, my mind has been busy thinking of all the things I need to do to complete the project. Last weekend I started the process by laying out a clear plastic tarp over the section of ground where I will plant the new peony bed. I placed bricks on the edges of the tarp to keep it in place. The sun will heat up the ground and the plastic will prevent the heat from escaping. So it will get really hot under there to kill the current grass, weeds, unsprouted seeds, even bugs and plant pathogens such as viruses and bacteria! This process is called soil solarization, and the best time to do this is in the summer. So now is a good time to start if you'd like to prepare some peony beds for fall planting! If you're leery of chemicals, this is a good organic way to prepare the soil since no chemicals are needed to kill weeds. After the soil has been sterilized, I am planning to get a truckload of pro-mix and garden soil delivered. I usually just plant my peonies in the ground as is with a bit of lime and organic fertilizer mixed in. However the soil in the site for my new intersectional peony bed is not very good since this is a section of my yard that used to be forest and was scraped clean with when my house was built. So there is little to no top soil in this area. The grass and weeds don't even really want to grow here. Since I want to make sure my intersectional peonies are successful, I am going to do a little more advance preparation this time.

Intersectional Peony Bed Soil Solarization

Monday, June 18, 2012

2012 Intersectional Peony Order

Sometime last week I got the idea that I wanted to put in a new bed for intersectional peonies. I currently have my intersectional peonies planted in various sunny spots in the garden, and one bed that I think has too much shade (see my post on 2012 Peony Experiments - Sun vs. Shade ). So I decided I would move the plants that are in too shady of a location and create a new bed for them in a sunnier spot. And since I was creating a new intersectional peony bed, it seemed only logical that I needed to add a few more to my collection to help fill up this new bed. :) So it seemed to be good timing that I got an email from Song Sparrow advertising 15% Off All Container Plants! Their sale lasts until June 20, 2012. So I decided to get a couple of intersectional peonies from them, and a couple from Swenson Gardens as well. I've never placed an order with Swenson Gardens before. So I'm curious to see their shipment and plant quality. I'm also excited to get this new intersectional peony bed planted! :)
Peony 'Lafayette Escadrille'
Peony 'Little Darlin'

Sunday, June 17, 2012

2012 Peony Experiments - Sun vs. Shade

I have one Peony 'Bartzella' that is growing in full sun, and another that is growing in partial shade. The difference between them is huge. The one in full sun has loads of blooms and the foliage is fuller and lower to the ground. The one in shade had only a couple of blooms, and the foliage is much thinner, taller, and upright. Both peonies were planted in 2007. So I've been growing both of them for 5 years. The number of stems and blooms on the one in full sun really outnumbers the one in shade. The plant growing in partial shade had 6 stems and 2 blooms this year. The plant growing in full sun had 20 stems and 19 blooms this year. So it is quite obvious that intersectional peonies can grow and bloom in shade, but their vigor and number of blooms is greatly reduced. So if you have a peony that's not doing very well that is in partial shade, find a nice sunny spot in your garden for your peony and move it there! :-)

Peony 'Bartzella' Growing in Sun

Peony 'Bartzella' Growing in Partial Shade

Friday, June 15, 2012

2012 Peony Experiments - Cutting Back Dead Flowers

I usually don't get around to cutting back dead flowers on my peonies. The past couple of years I have just left them to fend for themselves until the entire stem dies back. That way I would leave the flower head intact so that seeds could develop. However I have noticed quite a bit of fungal disease, and I wondered if it had any correlation to leaving the spent bloom on the plant. The flower type really seems to make a difference in this. The single and semi-double type flowers that shed their petals easily do not seem to have as much fungal disease as the more full double flowers that seem to hang onto their petals. Also I have noticed that dead petals that have fallen onto foliage below actual contribute to additional fungal growth that otherwise may not have developed. It seems the dying petals create just the right environment (more moist and warm) that the fungus needs to develop.

Dried Peony Petals on Foliage

Fungus on Peony Foliage

Over time I have been able to better recognize which seeds pods actually have developing seeds in them. So this year, I have started cleaning up my full double flowered peonies to remove the spent blooms. I also have 2 peony bushes of a white double peony that are the same variety. I decided to cut back the spent blooms on one of them, but not the other. I will check the amount of fungal disease later in the season. I also plan to cut down the dead foliage on the same one I cut back the flowers on and leave the dead foliage intact on the one I didn't cut back the flowers on. So we shall see how much difference it makes in the amount of fungus on the plants this fall and next spring.

Peony Spent Blooms Not Cut Back

Peony Spent Blooms Cut Back

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

2012 APS Convention Peony Seed Sale

From the moment I got to the American Peony Society convention this year, I was looking for the seeds from the APS Peony Seed Sale. Finally on Saturday afternoon, Scott Parker, the administrator of the APS Seed Distribution Program, set up the hundreds of seed packets right outside the door to "heaven". (I'd heard one of the APS flower show attendees exclaim earlier in the day, "It smells like heaven in here!", and indeed it did.) There weren't quite as many Paeonia species seeds available this year as there were 2 years ago, but there were loads of hybrid peony seeds available.

APS Peony Seed Sale

I managed to snag 6 packs of seeds, with 4 of them being tree peonies and 2 herbaceous species peonies. I don't really grow many tree peonies currently, since with the few tree peonies I have tried (P. delavayi, P. lutea, and P. 'High Noon') only one of them is still alive (P. delavayi). Perhaps with these new tree peony seeds I will hopefully get one or two that will thrive in my climate and under my harsh gardening regime. ;) The tree peony seeds I purchased are P. rockii from Cricket Hill Gardens, P. rockii and P. suffruticosa Mixture, P. 'Kamada Nishiki' (suffruticosa group), and a generic pack of tree peony purple flower. The herbaceous peony seeds I purchased are P. Ostii and P. Veitchii (pink single), neither of which came up for me the last time I tried them. So maybe this time I'll have better luck with those too. Better luck this time might = more water. :) If you want to get your own peony seeds for growing in your home garden in hopes that one day you may get something worth registering, you can join the APS and contact the APS Seed Distribution Program Administrator, Scott Parker. (It's one of the benefits of APS Membership.) :)

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

Thursday, June 7, 2012

2012 American Peony Society Gold Medal Winner - 'Topeka Garnet'

At the 2012 American Peony Society Board Meeting, Peony 'Topeka Garnet' was selected to receive the 2012 American Peony Society Gold Medal. This is a very prestigious award, and only one peony is selected each year to receive this award. Also, in the past few years, the APS Gold Medal award winner must also have been honored with the ALM (Award of Landscape Merit) in order to be considered for the APS Gold Medal. So that means that this peony should be a great garden subject with sturdy stems and good foliage. Peony 'Topeka Garnet' was hybridized by Bigger and registered in 1975. Here is what the APS registration says "TOPEKA GARNET (Bigger) (14-59) 1975. Dark red single. 30" stems. Small tuft of stamens. Flower fades some. Registered Myron D. Bigger. Bulletin #214 June 1975." I don't currently have this peony, but luckily I somehow already placed an order for this peony earlier in the year. If you don't already own this one, you may want to get your order in quickly for shipment this fall. I'm sure these will be selling out fast this year and next year! Adelman Peony Gardens is one vendor who is selling Peony 'Topeka Garnet' this year. (That's where I ordered mine from). :) Good luck!

Peony 'Topeka Garnet'
Photo Courtesy of Adelman Peony Gardens

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

2012 APS Peony Court of Honor Winners

There were quite a lot of good entries this year in the 2012 American Peony Society Exhibition and so many different colors! As you already know from my previous post, Peony 'Hephestos' won the Grand Champion Best in Show Ribbon as well as Best Red Lutea Hybrid. However there were several other entries that made the APS Court of Honor. They were: Best White Lactiflora - Peony 'Puffed Cotton', Best Blush Lactiflora - Peony 'Mrs. Frank Beach', Best Pink Lactiflora - Peony 'Vivid Rose', Best Red Lactiflora - Peony 'Maestro', Best White/Blush/Yellow Hybrid - Peony 'Prairie Moon', Best Pink/Coral Hybrid - Peony 'Coral Supreme', Best Red Hybrid - Peony 'Illini Warrior', Best Yellow Intersectional/Itoh - Peony 'Sonoma Halo', Best White Suffruticosa - Peony 'Koshino-yuki', an unnamed variety exhibited by Timothy Stanek that was simply labeled "Apr Db" (presumably meaning Apricot Double) which was also awarded a Certificate of Merit ribbon, Best Pink Lutea Hybrid - Peony 'Ruffled Sunset', and Best Yellow Lutea Hybrid - Peony 'Souvenir de Maxime Cornu'. I think my favorite is the Apricot Double seedling. Which one is your favorite?
Peony 'Puffed Cotton'
'Mrs. Frank Beach'
Peony 'Vivid Rose'
Peony 'Maestro'
Peony 'Prairie Moon'
Peony 'Coral Supreme'
Peony 'Illini Warrior'
Peony 'Sonoma Halo'
Peony 'Koshino-yuki'
Peony "Apr Db"
(My Favorite)
Peony 'Ruffled Sunset'
Peony 'Souvenir de Maxime Cornu'

Sunday, June 3, 2012

2012 American Peony Society Board Meeting

The 2012 American Peony Society board meeting went well this morning. In addition to other business, the board arranged to move all publications to the APS editor, discussed plans to publicize membership in the society, chose writers for rewriting the APS peony handbook, and selected the new APS Gold Medal award winner. Also the site for next year's national convention was confirmed as Longwood Gardens near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. That should prove to be a high visibility convention which will hopefully attract new peony lovers, collectors, and growers and hopefully more APS members as well. The more people that love peonies, the more people that will share their love of peonies!!!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

2012 APS Peony Convention Banquet & Auction

2012 American Peony Society Banquet

The 2012 American Peony Society Banquet & Auction were nice. Even though it was a bit cold in the room, the people made it warm. The dinner was good - beef or salmon with red velvet cake for dessert, thanks to the APS Editor Claudia Schroer. :) APS President Dana Tretheway conducted a short and sweet business meeting. The presentation on the Sass family was interesting with the highlight being the actual APS Gold Medal from 1943. I'd never seen one of the actual medals before. So that was cool!
APS President Dana Tretheway
APS 1943 Gold Medal

Lucas Hudson did a great job with the auction. He is so outgoing and always has so much energy! There were fewer attendees this year, so I felt I had a better chance of winning something. So I actually bought 3 plants in the auction this year - Peony 'Halcyon', Peony 'Top Brass', and Peony 'White Cap'. I'm excited about all three of them!
Lucas Hudson APS Secretary and Auctioneer

My buddy from the bus trip the day before, Glenny, sat near me at the banquet, and I really enjoyed talking with her and all the other peony lovers as well. It was nice to be in such good peony company! :D
Glenny and Me

2012 APS Grand Champion Peony - Hephestos

Peony 'Hephestos'
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 this 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. This peony was exhibited by Adelman Peony Gardens in Oregon. The color on all of their show peonies is always so dark and rich, and the size of their blooms are always huge. This tree peony was hybridized by Nassos Daphnis who named his varieties after Greek Gods associating the peonies he bred with his own Greek heritage.
2012 APS Peony Flower Show

Friday, June 1, 2012

2012 APS Peony Convention Garden Tours

Today was the garden tour day of the American Peony Society's annual national convention. We all boarded the tour bus early this morning for a 3 stop tour and a catered lunch. Since Nebraska's spring was about a month early this year, we missed the peonies entirely. The first stop was Jocelyn Castle which was very ornate, my favorite part being a stained glass window seat overlooking a small tropical conservatory.
Joslyn Castle

The second stop was the Sass Memorial Garden at Mahoney State Park, with a large display of all Sass hybridized peonies and irises. There wasn't much in bloom, but the layout and gazebo were nice.
Sass Memorial Garden
(Me with APS Editor Claudia Schroer)

The last stop was Lauritzen Gardens, which had an extensive collection of peonies and Chinese tree peonies. I would have loved to have seen it in bloom. However the garden had more to offer - a large rose garden, a miniature train garden, a Victorian garden, and so much more. At Lauritzen Gardens we had a nice catered lunch, mine being chicken salad on whole wheat, which was good.
Lunch at Lauritzen Gardens

After lunch peony hybridizer Don Hollingsworth gave a presentation on how to judge peonies for the Award of Landscape Merit (ALM). All in all it was a good day. However I feel almost like I have peony withdrawal since I was ready to see lots of blooms on the garden tours today, but they were all finished blooming! I can't wait to see all of the flowers tomorrow.
Don Hollingsworth's Award of Landscape Merit Presentation