Tuesday, April 29, 2014

2014 Tree Peony with Herbaceous Nurse Root Growth

I was surprised and curious to discover the first herbaceous nurse root sprouting from one of the tree peonies I planted last fall. It was on Tree Peony 'High Noon', which I purchased from a very reputable source. I suppose the quality of the tree peony grower won't prohibit this from happening. As you can see the photo on the left is what the tree peony looked like with the herbaceous nurse root sprout almost taking over the plant. After I removed the herbaceous sprout, you can better see what the actual tree peony foliage looks like. Both the herbaceous and tree peony foliage is very distinct. So you can easily tell when something is sprouting that shouldn't be and which stems you should remove. I just plucked the stem from its base, kind of snapping it off at the bottom. It was very easy to remove. Now that the herbaceous sprout has been removed, the tree peony stem above will have more energy available to it for its own growth. I will have to keep a close eye on this tree peony to make sure that no additional sprouts develop from the herbaceous nurse root that was grafted to this tree peony.

Monday, April 28, 2014

2014 Peony 'Firelight' Best Performer - Week 2

It was hard to choose my Southern Peony Best Performer this week. There were actually 3 contenders, and when the final decision had to be made, Peony 'Firelight' was the winner. The reason this peony beat out the other contenders hands down was because of the length of bloom, the variation in the petal color as the blooms fade, and how clean the peony bloom stems become after the bloom has faded. As you can see there are several bloom stems in the second photo that still hold their bright yellow stamens, even after the faded petals have fallen away. Also this peony actually has awesome, dark pink flares emanating from its center on each of its petals, giving it an extra point of interest. So if you are looking for a great, early blooming variety to add to your collection, Peony 'Firelight' definitely deserves a closer look.

Peony 'Firelight'
Southern Peony Best Performer

Peony 'Firelight'
Southern Peony Best Performer

Sunday, April 27, 2014

2014 Peony Blooms - Early - Week 2

With warmer temperatures this week (average high of 75°), more peony varieties began to open. The second tree peony to bloom, Peony 'Li Yuan Chun', bloomed this week. Each year I find myself more and more enamored with Peony 'Roy Pehrson's Best Yellow'. This peony really has beautiful large, light green foliage, blooms with pale yellow petals and sunny centers, and just an awesome presence in the early spring garden. Peony 'Lustrous' has a great volume of lipstick red petals in a semi-double fashion, and always reminds me of a movie star. Peony 'Sweet May' is just that, sweet! Even though this peony blooms earlier than May for me here in my Southern Peony garden, the small, light pink petals surround a huge center of sunny yellow stamens that are very sweet indeed! Please enjoy some of my favorite week 2 peony blooms...
Tree Peony 'Li Yuan Chun'
Peony 'Roy Pehrson's Best Yellow'
Peony 'Lustrous'
Peony 'Sweet May'

Sunday, April 20, 2014

2014 Peony Blooms - Very Early - Week 1

My first peony blooms of the season were much anticipated this year as I wondered when the tree peonies that were newly planted last fall would bloom. Their buds swelled for weeks as I watched them with excitement, wondering if they would open before the herbaceous peonies. However herbaceous Peony 'Early Scout' was once again the front runner in the peony bloom race this year. Also Peony 'Halcyon' was a very early surprise that bloomed for me for the first time this year. It is always nice to expand the selection of Week 1 peony blooms. Tree Peony 'Fragrant Jade' was the first of my newly planted tree peonies to bloom. Peony 'Firelight' is always an early bloomer and such a delight! Here are some of my favorite blooms pictures from my peony blooms week 1. Enjoy!
Peony 'Early Scout'
Peony 'Halcyon'
Tree Peony 'Fragrant Jade'
Peony 'Firelight'

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

2014 First Tree Peony Bloom Ever! Peony 'Fragrant Jade'

Tree Peony 'Fragrant Jade' (Xiang Yu) in the Rain

Yay! The first tree peony to ever bloom in my garden bloomed for the first time yesterday. It was Peony 'Fragrant Jade' (Xiang Yu). I am so excited to see how these tree peonies I've planted grow and develop over time. The first bloom on this plant was a semi-double bloom. I suspect as the tree peony matures the blooms will develop into their more fully double blossom. The first day it bloomed, it was raining. So I got another picture of it today. Perhaps the flower is as fragrant as it is named. It seems a bumble bee was so entranced by its fragrance, it never left the blossom and lived its final moments in the fluffiness of the soft white petals. I tried to sample its fragrance myself, but I'm afraid the previous days' rain may have washed away most of the scent. I guess I'll wait for the next bloom, as there is one more bud on this tree peony!

Tree Peony 'Fragrant Jade' (Xiang Yu) with Bumble Bee

Saturday, April 12, 2014

2014 First Spring Peony Bloom - Peony 'Early Sout'

Peony 'Early Scout' in Bud

This peony has once again made its way out of the ground and produced a bloom long before any other peony in my garden. This is a reliable plant, and the vibrant red is just so gorgeous. Peony 'Early Scout' bloomed today on April 12th to once again be the first peony to bloom in my garden. It was also the first to bloom last year, 2013 First Bloom of the Year - Peony 'Early Scout'! This very early, low-growing peony even beat out my newly planted tree peonies, a couple of which have big, fat buds just waiting to open. Tree peonies are supposed to bloom earlier than herbaceous peonies. So I wasn't sure exactly when in my herbaceous bloom period they would actually bloom. I usually have about 7 weeks of peony bloom here. So it seems like the tree peonies will probably overlap with the early herbaceous peony bloom period. I hope spring is starting in your garden too! :-)

Peony 'Early Scout' in Bloom

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

2014 Questions - Transplanting Peonies in the Spring

I received this question from Bahiyyah in zone 7:
"Hello, I love your blog, I have a question for you. I know transplanting in the spring is not best, but I had no choice. Now I have over 100 peonies to replant. Some are very young with only 3-5 eyes. I know to plant those whole. But what about the ones that have large root masses, but only 3 eyes showing. Is it problematic to replant those whole? I remember reading that once dug up peonies prefer to be split to grow properly. Should I trim some root off those. For a visual imagine 8 big juice carrot sized roots, with only three tiny eyes. Also, do you have any tips for soil amending when planting? I have access to leaf mulch, wood chips, well aged horse manure, worm compost and regular compost. Thank you for any and all advice you can offer"

Thank you for such a nice compliment! You are correct in stating that spring is not the ideal season to transplant peonies. Fall is the best season for moving and dividing peonies. However spring is much better than summer, especially if the peonies have not yet sprouted (which is what it sounds like you are describing when you mention that your peonies have eyes - instead of foliage growth). You may notice some reduction in blooms this year, but provided these peonies are replanted in a good location with plenty of sun and nice soil, they should recover nicely. If any of your peonies had enough stems last year to divide (at least 7-8 stems), then you can go ahead and divide those peonies. However if your peonies didn't have very many stems last year and only have 3 eyes with large roots, I would not divide those peonies. Also it isn't necessary to remove any of the storage roots before planting unless you feel need to remove them for some other reason (ex. unwieldy for planting, unmanageable for transporting, diseased, etc.)

As far as soil amendments, I would recommend the leaf mulch and compost and mixing it well into the soil. The horse manure could also be used, but it definitely shouldn't be applied directly to the roots or crown of the plant. The wood chips could be used as a mulch/top dressing only to prevent weed growth. However it is not recommended to mix these into the planting hole, as they can inhibit the peony root's access to nitrogen.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

2014 First Peony Seedlings to Bloom This Spring!

Well, it almost happened last spring. I had my First Peony Seedling with a Developing Bud last spring, and sadly it never matured, First Peony Seedling Develops Immature Bud. However this year, I'm sure I will see some original blooms from my peony seedling bed. There are already 4 different plants with buds on them and the buds are growing larger by the day! Last year the peony plant with a bud on it was a seedling of 'Lady Alexandra Duff'. This year, there are two peony plants from 'Pink Princess' and two peony plants from 'Lady Alexandra Duff' with buds on them. So there are at least 4 plants with buds on them already. Some of the peony seedlings' foliage is still emerging so there may be more buds to come. I am so excited to see my first blooms from peonies I grew from seed from my own garden. I will definitely keep you posted on the progress and will be sure to post photos of the blooms as well!

2008 Peony Seedlings

Peony Seedling Buds

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

2014 Swenson Gardens 7 Intersectional Peonies for $35!

Wow! Swenson Gardens finally released their 2014 peony catalog online, and I've updated my post with the all of the prices for the 2014 Intersectional Peony Catalog Price Comparisons List. I must say they have really lowered their prices on the majority of their intersectional peonies. Since they usually offer one of the largest selections of intersectional peonies, this is really big news! Also they are offering 7 different intersectional peony varieties for $35.00 each! This is an almost unheard of price point for an intersectional peony, and they are offering lots to choose from at that price! It seems as if Swenson Gardens is trying to be the leader in intersectional peonies in price and selection. They also have 6 other intersectional peonies in the $40-$50 range. So if you are looking to expand your intersectional peony collection or maybe just start your collection, 2014 seems to be a great year to do so! The intersectional peony varieties that Swenson Gardens is offering for $35 are: 'Border Charm', 'Japanese Itoh', 'Old Rose Dandy', 'Pastel Splendor', 'Prairie Charm', 'Scarlet Heaven', and 'Shining Light'. One of these peonies, Peony 'Prairie Charm', is even an American Peony Society Award of Landscape Merit award winning peony!

Swenson Gardens Offers 7 Intersectional Peonies for $35!

2014 Intersectional Peony Varieties Offered
Peony VendorIntersectional
Solaris Farms23
Buck Canyon10
Hidden Springs9
Blossom Hill8
Song Sparrow7
Cricket Hill6
Peony's Envy6

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

2014 American Peony Society Handbook on Ebay

I got an email this morning about an Ebay auction listing for the Manual of the American Peony Society from 1928. I purchased a copy of the Manual of the American Peony Society First Edition for myself last year, and I'm almost done reading it. There are a few boring parts - like several long lists of plant names. I must admit I skipped those parts. However there is quite a lot of interesting information on the history of peonies and the American Peony Society in the book. There are also several beautiful prints as well. The listing on Ebay has an opening bid of $15 with free shipping! This particular copy of the book was previously held in a library and appears to have some permanent ink on the spine that identified its location inside the library. Other than that it seems to be in good condition - better condition than my copy. I paid more than $30 for the copy I bought last year, and the binding is separately from the spine on my copy. So my copy is in quite sad shape. If you are looking to pick up a decent copy of the 1st Edition of the Manual of the American Peony Society, now may be an opportune time for you to place a bid on it. :-) Good luck!

First Edition Manual of the American Peony Society on Ebay