Sunday, June 30, 2013

2013 Southern Peony Milestones & Popular Topics

It wasn't all that long ago that I was writing about our first 1,000 visitors in one month back in January in my 2013 Southern Peony Milestones post. Well you all have done it again. Last month we had over 2,000 views in one month and this month the site has had over 20,000 views since Southern Peony's inception! Since then we've added a program to recognize the best peony performers in the southern climate, Southern Peony Best Performer. I am so happy about how far this site has come, and how it continues to grow and be a resource to the peony community everywhere. It looks like my efforts to reach out to readers all over the world by adding a translation tool to view 2013 Peony in Other Languages has certainly helped lots of people the world over find this site. I am still interested in getting questions from all of you in the US and all other countries. So if you have a Peony Question please Contact Me! Check out the current list of the Top 10 Most Popular Topics of All Time in the table below, and you can check out the Popular Topics page for an up to date list of our most popular peony topics!

Top 10 Most Popular Topics of All Time (as of 6/30/13)
12009 Fall Peony Foliage
22012 Peony 'Bartzella' Best Performer - Week 5
32012 Peony 'Angel Cheeks' Best Performer - Week 6
42012 Peony Blooms Mid Season - Week 4
52012 APS Peony Court of Honor Winners
62012 Peony Blooms Very Early to Early Mid - Weeks 1-3
72012 Peony Disease Bud Blast
82013 Intersectional Peony Catalog Price Comparisons
92013 Questions - Container Grown Peony Plants
102010 APS Grand Champion Peony - Flying Pink Saucer

Top 10 Countries by Pageviews
1United States11834
5United Kingdom476

Friday, June 28, 2013

2013 Questions - Source for Peony 'Uncle Tom'

I received this question from Karen in Zone 8:
"I see that you have Auten's Uncle Tom Peony in your inventory. Can you tell me where you purchased this peony? I have been looking for a source for this peony but could not find anywhere. Thanks"

I actually purchased this peony from Gilbert H. Wild several years ago in 2008. This may be one of the few varieties I received from them that was actually labeled correctly. I no longer purchase plants from this vendor due to their rampant mislabeling of varieties (or perhaps it may be more accurately described, unannounced substitutions, who knows?). Anyway they are notoriously known for sending plant material that is not true to name. However their prices are very reasonable, read cheap, and if you are looking for sheer quantities of peonies, not caring about the variety or even color, they can definitely help you with flowers in numbers. Or perhaps you may want to place an order for just excitement to find out years later what color and peony flower type you actually received. I, however, did not find this to be an exciting game, and am still pruning my collection of mislabeled varieties they've sent me. I'm sorry I don't have a more reliable source for you since you are looking for a specific variety, I'm guessing you'd want it to be true to name. It doesn't look like Gilbert H. Wild is even offering Peony 'Uncle Tom' this year or season. However most peony growers do not offer all of their varieties every year. They rotate them in their catalogs according to their available stock (and perhaps to keep things interesting). Hopefully some other vendors will offer this peony to the public again in the near future!

Peony 'Uncle Tom'

Monday, June 24, 2013

2013 Double Peony Vs. Single Peony

The peony on the left is a double form peony. The peony on the right is a single form peony. If you think you love double peonies, wait until you grow a single! Sure double peonies have lots of petals, sure some of them smell nice, but what happens to them as soon as a rain storm comes along? On the ground. Sure you could stake them, tie them up, and threaten them. But why? You could just grow a single peony as well. I'm not saying to give up on doubles. I love them too! However single and semi-double peonies are often overlooked in favor of the large puffy bomb and double flowered peonies, and they (single form peonies) should definitely be given a second look. Apart from holding up better during rain storms, single peonies often have an earlier bloom season, allowing for an extension of your peony bloom enjoyment! They are also more likely to be fertile and bear seed, in case you're ever interested in growing new varieties - babies! Single form peonies also come in a wider range of colors - from pale lavender to hot coral! So who wins this debate, double vs. single? You do! Having peonies of all shapes, sizes, and colors available multiplies the benefits of growing peonies. So grow them all!!!

Double Peony vs. Single Peony

Friday, June 21, 2013

2013 Peony Foliage on Steriods! Peony 'Bowl of Cream'

While cutting the spent blooms off my peonies last week, I couldn't help but notice the size of this peony. It is Peony 'Bowl of Cream'. This plant is just huge. The leaves on this peony are almost a foot long (10 inches). Each leaflet is 10 inches, making the compound leaf 20 inches across! Of all the varieties I grow, this one definitely has the largest leaves! Peony 'Bowl of Cream' was hybridized by Khlem in 1963. It is also a American Peony Society Gold Medal Winner from 1981. The size of this peony foliage convinced me to add another category, foliage size, to my Survey page. I'd like to make peonies more easily identifiable in the future. The more information we have about each peony plant, the easier it will be to identify the specific variety in the future.

Peony 'Bowl of Cream' Leaflet

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

2013 How to Deadhead an Herbaceous Peony

Peony with Spent Blooms

After your herbaceous peonies have finished blooming, you can deadhead them (remove their spent blooms). There are several purposes of this. Firstly, it keeps the plants looking neat and tidy. The dried brown flower petals and sepals aren't very attractive hanging on the plant. Secondly, it prevents the spread of disease. The petals of peonies are perfect hosts for fungi to grow. If left on the plants, they absorb and hold moisture and warmth very well, making a perfect home for a fungus. Thirdly, it allows the peony to divert its energy towards creating a larger root instead of developing seed pods and seeds (unless you want to grow a peony from seed). With a larger root, the peony can develop into a larger plant the next growing season.

Brown Peony Petals and Sepals

When pruning the peony plant to remove the dead blossoms, the plant should only be cut back to just above the next leaf node. Take your pruners and follow the stem from the top near the bloom or bloom cluster down to just above the next leaf nodule. This is the point where the peony should be cut back. Use pruners that have been disinfected to make a clean cut at this point. You can use rubbing alcohol or vinegar to disinfect your clippers between cuts. I usually keep a small, lidded, plastic container filled with one of these biodegradable disinfectants to dip my clippers in while pruning.

Prune Peony Right Above the Next Leaf Nodule

Since peonies do not continuously produce new foliage growth, as much of the foliage should be preserved as possible. The leaves of the peony plant are needed to generate energy for storage in the peony's underground tuber. The plant will use this stored energy to regenerate itself the next year. Sometimes I will prune the plant back a little further than the next leaf nodule if I find a stem that has been severely affected by disease. This is identifiable by black spots on the stems or leaves, wilting, and/or leaves or stems that have turned totally black. If you find a stem like this prune that stem back to the next healthy leaf nodule. If the entire stem has been affected and turned black, remove the entire stem, and be sure to bag it for garbage collection.

That's it. If your peony was newly planted last fall, you should water it during any summer dry spells to help it survive its first year. Now your peonies are ready to collect as much energy as possible until the weather gets cool and the foliage goes dormant! At which point you'll need to learn How to Cut Back an Herbaceous Peony. That's why I love peonies, they are relatively carefree and deer do not eat them! :-)

Neat & Tidy Deadheaded Peony

Sunday, June 16, 2013

2013 Monrovia Itoh Peony 'Keiko'™ 愛幕 (Adored)

Monrovia Peony 'Keiko'™ 愛幕 (Adored)

So I saw these Monrovia Itoh peonies at a local garden center near me. They looked so lovely, they looked so intersectional, they looked so... expensive! As you can see from the tag on this one, they are tagged to sell for $89.99. However I definitely didn't pay that much. The garden center had them on sale for 30% off, and I also had a $50 Visa gift card that someone had given me. So I ended up paying a little more than $17 with tax after the sale and gift card.

Monrovia Peony 'Keiko'™ (Adored) Tag

These Monrovia peonies that they were selling are part of Monrovia's Japanese collection of peonies with Japanese names to honor the creator of Itoh peonies, Toichi Itoh, of Japan. The intersectional peony I selected was the largest plant I saw and the one with the best looking foliage. It is named Peony 'Keiko'™ (Adored), and from the picture of the bloom, it looks like it will be a lovely pink color. With it's Japanese name I figured this peony would feel much at home in my Japanese garden near my pagoda statue and Japanese irises. So that's where I planted it. I can't wait to see it bloom next year! Also I will have to keep my eye on these at the garden center to see when they go on clearance. :-)

Monrovia Peony 'Keiko'™ (Adored) Near Japanese Garden

Friday, June 14, 2013

2013 American Peony Society Gold Medal Winner - 'The Mackinac Grand'

At this year's 2013 American Peony Society Board Meeting, the APS Board elected Peony 'The Mackinac Grand' as its 2013 American Peony Society Gold Medal Winner. I do not currently grow this peony, nor do I have it on order. So I will have to get a specimen for myself to evaluate here in my growing zone. Since I was a member of the seated board, I was able to vote for the Gold Medal winner, but I decided to abstain since I felt I did not have enough knowledge of the candidates to elect the finest specimen. However from its photos, it appears to be a pretty plant with flowers held nicely above the foliage. Peony 'The Mackinac Grand' was hybridized by Reath and registered in 1992. The petals appear to be a true red with a bright yellow center of stamens showing through a large round of fluffy red petals. I'm interested to try this newest Gold Medal Winner!

Peony 'The Mackinac Grand'

Monday, June 10, 2013

2013 Deadheading Removing Spent Peony Blooms

I just spent the last 2 days deadheading my peonies - removing the spent blooms on my peony plants. You can do this on all of your peonies if you like. Or if you want to see if any seeds will develop in the seed pods you can just deadhead those with no seed pods - like most double and bomb type peonies. These types rarely set seed. The single and semi-double peony forms are more likely to set seed. I've heard it is very important to remove all of the peony foliage and never compost it. So any peony foliage I remove from my gardens is always sent to the landfill. If you have seen the effects of botrytis on peonies, then you know why this is so important. Botrytis is a fungus that can be spread in wet conditions most easily on developing and growing foliage. It will cause a black spotting on the leaves and stems, bud abortion, and in heavy cases black fungal growths with spores. So as you can see my peony refuse is bagged and stored in my trash receptacle until my friendly neighborhood trash man comes to take it away!

Bagged Deadheaded Peony Blooms & Foliage

Sunday, June 9, 2013

2013 Last Peony Blooms of the Season

While cutting back some spent blooms today, I found these last two blooms of my peony season. (This would be like Week 8!) They are from Peony 'Kelway's Glorious', and it is just that - Glorious! I am so happy to find these last two blooms. I cut them and brought them inside right away and put them in a vase. I placed them on my mantle so that I could enjoy them next to our wedding cards. While cutting back this particular peony I also found several peony bombs on the ground. These are just peony blooms that never fully opened and just fell off the plant. Yes, it is true that sometimes late season varieties do not open here in this southern growing climate. However, that won't stop me from trying to grow them anyway. I had more than a few that did open on this bush, and as you can see I did get a few more that opened at the very end. So it is definitely worth it to grow this very late season variety, Peony 'Kelway's Glorious'!

Last Blooms of the Season Peony 'Kelway's Glorious'

Peony Bombs - Never Opened Blooms

Monday, June 3, 2013

2013 Peony Blooms Very Late - Week 7

It has been a great peony blooms season this year. What ever rain we had during the bloom season seemed to be limited to one day or if there was more than one day of rain, the sun seemed to come out at some point during each day to dry the foliage - which is great! This is the least incidence of disease I have seen on my peonies in quite some time. So the weather and in particular, the rain, really does make a difference in the spread of peony diseases. The blooms in week 7 are just barely hanging on. Most of the blooms you'll find this week are some of the last in a cluster of blooms to open. However there is still some beauty to appreciate and savor before the peony blooms season is over for the year. If you're looking for some very late season peonies to extend your bloom season, these are definitely some of the latest blooming varieties for me. I hope you appreciated all of your peony blooms as much as I did!
Peony 'Felix Supreme'
Peony 'Myra MacRae'
Peony 'Lady Orchid'
Peony 'Primevere'

Sunday, June 2, 2013

2013 American Peony Society Winterthur Garden Tour


The gardens at Winterthur were a great contrast to the gardens at Longwood. The naturalistic feel and giant old trees of Winterthur gave it a more historic feel versus the more modern displays of colorand neatly trimmed beds of Longwood. Winterthur's house was filled with antiques and period architectures from the 1600's, 1700's, and 1800's. Winterthur boasts a collection of over 90,000 objects of American art and antiques.
Winterthur's Interior

The weather was a bit cooler, and the breeze was awesome. The difference between the garden styles was evident not only by the form and feel of the planting, but also by the number of caretakers. Winterthur operates with a team of 9 versus a team of several hundereds of gardeners and volunteers at Longwood. Winterthur also had a much larger peony collection than Longwood. Longwood's peony collection was mostly tree peonies with a couple herbaceous peonies mixed in their perennial border.

Winterthur Peony Garden

Winterthur actually has two large dedicated peonies collections. One is a partly shaded collection of herbaceous and tree peonies accompanied by a gazebo, which was made to showcase A.P. Saunders hybridizing efforts. This garden had mostly finished blooming since tree peonies are generally earlier than herbaceous, and most of A.P. Saunders herbaceous hybrids are early blooming varieties. The other peony garden is a larger, more formal, mostly herbaceous peony garden with a round center, stone pathways and staircases, and a garden bench. The peonies in this garden were still in full bloom. The season was nearing it's end, but there were still lots of lovely blossoms!

Winterthur Peony Garden

Saturday, June 1, 2013

2013 American Peony Society Banquet and Auction

2013 American Peony Society Banquet
Longwood Gardens Conservatory Ballroom

The banquet for the 2013 American Peony Society Convention was held in the most glorious ballroom at Longwood. Everything was perfect (accept the lack of air conditioning!) LOL. The dark wood paneled walls were covered in a rose pink jacquard fabric. The ceiling and walls were adorned with ornate chandeliers. The tables were set with fine floral patterned table linens and of course all of our favorite flower, peonies! The food was exquisite. We had mixed baby greens, mushroom soup, and a goat cheese tart for our appetizers. Dinner was melt in your mouth beef medallions and scallops with summer vegetables and creamy polenta. Dessert was all about strawberries. There was strawberry, mango, & basil sorbet, strawberry & rhubarb shortcake, and vanilla panna cotta with strawberries & almonds. Everything was delish!

Don Hollingsworth Receives
Bertrand H. Farr Lifetime Achievement Award

Naming Ceremony for Peony 'W. E. B. Du Bois'

During dinner APS president Dana Trethway conducted the APS general meeting. At the meeting Don Hollingsworth received in absentia the Bertrand H. Farr Lifetime Achievement Award. Also a peony plant was named after W. E. B. Du Bois, a white single peony which was showered with champagne during the naming ceremony. After dinner it was time for the annual auction, which I was much looking forward to. The auction took quite a while since there were almost 100 items up for auction. However, Jim & Lore Sampson did a great job, and there were definitely some deals to be had. Both of the items I donated to the auction sold for good prices. The Sterling Silver Peony Topaz Necklace I donated went for $50, and the Peony 'Bartzella' went for $80. Overall it was a nice evening with friends and peony enthusiasts.
American Peony Society Auction

2013 American Peony Society Court of Honor Winners

This year was a challenging one for the American Peony Society's flower show. The climate of a conservatory is definitely warmer than an air conditioned hotel ballroom. So the added heat and humidity was quite a strain on the 2013 APS show flowers. This was my first year participating as a judge for the show, and I learned immensely. We even had a member of the Longwood Gardens staff as a guest judge on our team. It was nice to get an outside perspective on the judging and also get some insight into how other national clubs judge their shows.

2013 American Peony Society Flower Show Judging

There were several categories that had a multitude of entries and some others that had only one entry (many of the tree peony categories and several of the amateur categories). So additional participation is always welcome! All of the single stem blue ribbon first place winners are considered for the American Peony Society Court of Honor. So after all of the many categories have been judged, all of the blue ribbon winners are pulled and and placed into smaller categories. A Court of Honor representative is selected from each of these smaller subcategories filled with blue ribbon winners. The Best in Show flower is then selected from the Court of Honor. The Best in Show award this year went to Peony 'Boreas' a Nassos Daphnis hybrid tree peony, which was selected from the APS Court of Honor:
Peony 'James Pillow'
Peony 'Angel Cheeks'
Peony 'Ave Maria'
Peony 'Maestro'
Peony 'Honor'
Peony 'Prairie Charm'
'Raspberry Charm'
'Sonoma Amethyst'
Peony 'Boreas'
(Best In Show)
Peony 'Renkaku'
Peony 'Kamata-fuji'
Peony 'Shima-nishiki'
Peony 'Marie Laurencia'
Peony 'Alice Harding'