Friday, September 28, 2012

2012 Intersectional Peony Garden Dead Foliage

I went out to water the newly transplanted peonies in my intersectional peony garden today, and the ones that were moved from partial shade to full sun were toast. The new ones that I'd gotten on Ebay and planted out at the beginning of summer are the only ones that still have green foliage. The foliage on the ones that were planted in shade was a lighter shade of green (presumably because those plants were used to their partially shady conditions), but it became decidedly droopy, brown, and crispy. So I decided to go ahead and clean off all of the foliage from the older intersectional peonies that were transplanted from the shade. Now as you can see the garden is mostly just sticks, save the four very small, new intersectional peonies. I'm thinking the foliage on all of these intersectional peonies will be a nice dark green color when they leaf out in the spring. I can't wait!

Intersectional Peony Garden with Dead Foliage

Intersectional Peony Garden with Trimmed Foliage

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

2012 How to Plant an Intersectional Peony

Intersectional Peonies

Intersectional Peonies should be planted similar to Herbaceous Peonies, except a bit more care should be taken to make sure the root is facing the proper direction. This is important for herbaceous peonies as well, but more so with intersectional, and even more so with tree peonies.

Dig Hole for Intersectional Peony

The first step and perhaps the most important step in planting a peony is preparing the soil. I usually dig at least a 3 foot round hole for each root, spading the soil with my shovel to make sure the dirt is nice and loose. After the hole is dug and the soil has been loosened, I add some organic fertilizer and lime (dolomitic limestone) to the soil in the hole and mix it in. The fertilizer is used to add nutrients to the soil and the lime is used to adjust the PH of the soil. In my area, most soils are acidic, and peonies prefer a more neutral to very slightly acidic soil, around a PH of 6.0 to 7.0.

Put Intersectional Peony Root in Planting Hole

Next take a look at the peony root and make a small hole in the middle of your 3 foot round hole that will accommodate the size of the peony root. Intersectional peonies are hybrids of tree peonies and herbaceous peonies, and they exhibit some characteristics of both. The intersectional peony roots usually have a definite delineation between the roots and the stem. The stem usually has pink buds on it, from which the new shoots and foliage will begin to emerge. So make sure to put the roots into the soil and put the stems/buds pointing up towards the sky. In my southern climate the point where the roots meets the stem can be planted even with the soil, so that the roots are below the soil and the stems/buds are above the soil.

Cover Intersectional Peony Roots with Soil

Once the peony root has been planted, I cover the planting hole with a 1-2 inch layer of mulch. You don't want to put too much mulch on peonies in this climate. Otherwise the roots may not get enough chilling hours needed for blooming. They do however need enough mulch to retain moisture (It does get really hot here!) and prevent weed growth. After the peony has been mulched, I water the newly planted peony root. You can water your root before or after you mulch it. I just like to water mine afterwards because it seems like the soils stays in place a little better with the mulch already on top.

Mulch Intersectional Peony

Monday, September 24, 2012

2012 Peony Experiments - Intersectional Divisions

I divided a huge Peony 'Bartzella' this week with 24 stems. I ended up with 10 divisions. Four of the divisions have large root systems, and I know they will grow fine. However 6 of them had little to no root left on them. Since Peony 'Bartzella' DNA seems to be quite valuable these days, and I am not currently in the business of cloning :), I thought I'd plant them out to see if they'd survive, grow, and thrive. Some of them have only a stem and a bud on them. So those I planted a little deeper hoping for an adventitious root. I know some peonies are known to create adventitious buds. So I'll be curious to see if these are able to develop adventitious roots. :) I planted these out in my new peony seedling test bed which I guess is now just my peony test bed. I also had a little helper that sprinkled a bit of water on them. :)
Peony 'Bartzella' Division
with Small Roots
Peony 'Bartzella' Division
with Small Roots Planted
Peony 'Bartzella' Division
with Tiny Roots
Peony 'Bartzella' Division
with Tiny Roots Planted
Peony 'Bartzella' Division
with No Roots
Peony 'Bartzella' Division
with No Roots Planted

Peony Helper

Sunday, September 23, 2012

2012 Intersectional Peony Garden Planting

Wow! Planting the intersectional peonies in their new garden bed was a dream. The new soil was so soft and even the earth below was easy to work with considering how much rain we've had lately. At first I couldn't decide on the layout. I wanted the layout to be different than my other peony beds. I finally decided on concentric circles with Peony 'Bartzella' in the center.

Intersectional Peony Bed Layout

I guess I will be enlarging this bed very soon. I pretty much filled it up. I dug up or divided 6 intersectional peonies that I already had elsewhere in my garden - shadier spots, which is why they needed a new home! I've had them for years with little to no bloom. I'm hoping with the move they will be happier and produce lots more blossoms! Those peonies were Peony 'Copper Kettle', Peony 'Cora Louise', Peony 'First Arrival', Peony 'Hillary', Peony 'Julia Rose', and Peony 'Morning Lilac'. I also added my four intersectional Ebay peonies Peony 'Canary Brilliants', Peony 'Lemon Dream', Peony 'Old Rose Dandy', and Peony 'Scarlet Heaven'. Then I planted two new intersectional peony roots that arrived last week Peony 'Garden Treasure' and Peony 'Sonoma Amethyst'. I can't wait to see how this intersectional peony garden develops over time!

Intersectional Peony Bed Planting

Saturday, September 15, 2012

2012 AmScope Microscope for Peony Research

I am really excited! I just placed an order on Amazon for an AmScope 40X-640X Glass Optics Student Compound Microscope + USB Digital Camera. I was able to get it for $59 after points from my Amazon Visa and some Amazon gift cards I had. Now I can take really close up pictures of peony components! I can't wait to use it. I want to look at foliage, blooms, stems, roots, and even diseases! This is going to be so cool. It even has a built in camera, so I'll be able to post some pics to my blog. If there's something you'd curious to know that you'd like me research with it, please feel free to send me a question! This will be a valuable tool for future Experiments.

Microscope for Peony Research

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

2012 Shutterfly Hardcover Peony Book

I love Shutterfly. It lets me combine two things I love (peonies & photography) into something tangible! They have a great offer right now - a free 8X8 hardcover photo book with the coupon code SUMMERBOOK. Today is the last day, though. I am such a procrastinator! :-P However I did get my 2012 Peony book finished today. The price is usually $29.99 + $8.53 shipping. With the coupon code you just play $8.53 for shipping, a great deal! Shutterfly has a nice interface that allows you to use different photo layouts, backgrounds, fonts, etc. I have just created a blank template for myself to use each year for my peony photo book. I like the simplicity of a white background. It contrasts nicely with the bright colors of the peony flowers. If you're looking for a nice way to get some photos printed into a photo book, I would definitely recommend Shutterfly. I've been using them for years now, and I have always been impressed by their quality and customer service.

Shutterfly Peony Book Layout

Shutterfly Peony Book Preview

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

2012 Soil for New Peony Beds

Well I finally got the mountains of new dirt raked out into nicely shaped beds for my peonies. One peony bed will be for seedlings. The other peony bed will be for intersectional peonies. I'm kind of excited to see how these grow in the spring. With such nice soil to grow in these should do really well! The intersectional peony bed turned out to be 9ft X 12ft. The peony seedling test bed turned out to be 7ft X 8ft. They're not huge, but they're pretty good size. I'm sure I'll be able to squeeze lots of intersectional peonies and peony seedlings into them for now - and I'm sure the beds will grow in size later! ;) The next thing I need to do is figure out the layout. Then when my fall shipments arrive, I'll know where to plant them. :)

Intersectional Peony Bed Soil

Peony Test Seedling Bed Soil

Monday, September 3, 2012

2012 APS Bulletin Article - Peony Weekend Panoply

Yay! I got the latest issue of the APS Peony Bulletin - September 2012 with my article in it. How exciting! Here's a reprint of the article. Enjoy!

The 2012 American Peony Society Convention was held in Omaha, Nebraska this year, and despite the lack of a local ‘host’ peony club, the convention was well organized, had a great showing of flowers, and had lots of extra activities to keep you busy!

On Friday we visited Joslyn Castle. The grounds of the Joslyn Castle were rich, well landscaped, and nicely manicured. However their beauty did not rival that of the castle. Though it lacked the company of its original furniture, the castle was finely appointed in detail and craftsmanship. From the tiny mosaic inlaid tile to the hand carved mantels and archways, the time and attention to detail was obvious. One of my favorite features was a set of 3 stained glass windows nestled above a comfy cushioned window seat overlooking a tiny yet full and lush conservatory of moisture loving plants including ferns, tropical foliage, and orchids. It also contained a small waterfall and pond, with the noise from the water feature bringing an element of the outdoors inside which, I’m sure, was enjoyed with even greater pleasure in the winter months. Unfortunately the peony bloom season had already passed. So the century old peonies boasted only bare foliage and cut flower stems.

After visiting the castle we headed to Mahoney State Park to visit the Sass Memorial Gardens. The flowers came super early this year to the Sass Memorial Gardens. So we missed them by about a month. However the lack of a distracting abundant floral display gave additional opportunities for the APS members to socialize and discuss the drastic difference in the weather this year and how it affected their own peony bloom seasons.

After visiting the State Park, we headed to Lauritzen Gardens for lunch and a tour. Lunch was simple, but delicious, and a welcome break. The catered lunch was held in the Lauritzen Gardens indoor atrium which was filled with lush tropical plants including beautiful hot pink bougainvillea tree. The Award of Landscape Merit training meeting given by Don Hollingsworth immediately followed the lunch. APS members had their choice of the ALM meeting or additional tour time in the garden. Lauritzen Gardens was a beautiful garden with a contrasting mix of nicely manicured, carefully landscaped areas and fields of wildflowers and open natural areas. In addition to a peony garden, there was also a rose garden, a Victorian garden, a miniature train garden, and much more.

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 on Saturday 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.

The social hour started early and lasted long. The room was cold, but the hearts were warm as everyone socialized and waited for the business meeting and banquet dinner to begin. The business meeting was short and sweet with three new board members elected. The buffet dinner was tasty with beef, salmon, mashed potatoes, veggies, salad, and bread. We all listened to a presentation on the Sass Brothers’ hybridizing feats including all of the medals they’d won over the years. One of the highlights of the talk was the announcement that he’d brought the actual 1943 APS Gold Medal that the Sass Brothers had been awarded (for Peony ‘Elsa Sass’) for everyone to view. The APS Editor, Claudia Shroer, made sure we all had our dessert, and it was very good, a red velvet cake. However the peony auction may have been even better. Lucas Hudson, the APS Secretary, conducted a lively APS peony auction as usual, and there were lots of rare and prized peony varieties to bid on.

If you didn’t make it to the convention this year, make plans to attend next year which I’m sure will be even bigger and better! :-)