Tuesday, November 25, 2014

2014 Intersectional Peonies with 3 Flowers Per Stem

I actually finished cutting back all of my peonies before December this year. That's quite a feat considering some years I am pruning dead foliage well into January! While cutting back my intersectional peonies yesterday, I noticed that two intersectional peony varieties had three flowers per stem. I grow several varieties of intersectional peonies, and so far these are the only two that have had three peony blooms on one stem. This is definitely something that would make one intersectional peony variety better than another. Not only does having three flowers per stem give you more blooms per bush, but it also likely increases the blooms season for the plant. Now that I am thinking about it, the blooms on both Peony 'Garden Treasure' and 'Julia Rose' seemed to last longer than the rest of my intersectional peonies this year. I will have to keep an eye on this trait to see if any of my other intersectional peonies develop this habit as the plants mature! Also Peony 'Garden Treasure' is an American Peony Society Gold Medal Winner from 1996. So if you are looking to add an intersectional peony to your garden, and you're not sure which one to choose, Peony 'Garden Treasure' and Peony 'Julia Rose' may be good selections to consider!
3 Flowers on 1 Stem on
Intersectional Peony
'Garden Treasure'
3 Flowers on 1 Stem on
Intersectional Peony
'Julia Rose'

Saturday, November 15, 2014

2014 Peony Thank You Card

This month I received a card in the mail. It was a thank you card for a peony root I'd given someone. My friend Michele has told me several times about how her neighbor, Glory, was always drooling over another of their neighbor's peonies and how she'd love to have one. I'd wanted to give my friend Michele a peony for a while too. So this fall I took two peony roots over to her house. I let Michele pick which one she'd like from the two peonies I'd brought and told her she could give the other one to her neighbor, Glory. I brought Michele a piece of my favorite white single peony (which had well over a hundred blooms on it at once this year) and a nice big fat double white peony. Michele opted to keep the white single peony. So I helped her plant it near her mailbox (since that is the sunniest part of her yard). She later gave the double white peony to her neighbor. A week or so later, I received this lovely thank you card in the mail. What a nice surprise! It really brings joy to my heart to share my love of peonies with others. I hope the peonies will bloom for many years to come and that they both enjoy the peony plants as much as I have!

Thank You Card for a Peony

Friday, November 14, 2014

2014 How to Divide an Herbaceous Peony

Since it's that time of year, and I needed to divide a few peonies of my own I wanted to create this illustrated how to divide an herbaceous peony guide. Let talk about reasons why to divide a peony and what would qualify as a peony that needs division or would be okay to divide. The reasons to divide a peony are to create more of the same peony to plant in your garden, to give a peony to someone you know, or maybe even to sell a piece of your peony. As far as what peony would qualify as a peony to divide, I've heard a rule of thumb is a peony with at least seven stems. However as you can see, the peony in this guide has many more than seven stems. This particular peony has more than 25 stems!

Cut Back the Peony Stems

First you should cut back all of the stems on your peony. When cutting back peony stems for the winter, I usually cut them back to the ground. However when dividing a peony it will probably help you see where and how to divide the peony if you keep the stems a little longer (about 2-3 inches). A longer stem left on the peony division will also help its new owner figure out the correct way to plant it!

Dig the Peony Out of the Soil

Next, after your peony has been cut back, carefully dig in a circle around the peony. I usually try to dig a circle that is about 1 foot away from the peony stems to try to preserve as many of the roots as possible. After you have dug a circle around the peony, next try digging a little underneath the peony all the way around it, until you are able to lift it above the soil.

Wash Off Your Peony Roots

After you have removed your peony from the soil, you should take it to a place where you can give it a thorough rinse. As you can see I had a little helper to help me with this part! A garden hose with a stream nozzle that has a little bit of power behind it will help get the soil out of all of the nooks and crannies in your peony root.

Let the Peony Rest for at Least One Day

As you can tell from the picture, my peony root is now dry. That's because it's been sitting in the same spot for a couple days. It took me a little while to get back to it. Your peony root should be given time to sit and rest before you divide it. Otherwise you will accidentally snap of lots of your peony's storage roots. When you first dig a peony from the soil, the roots are very firm and easy to break. After the peony sits for a day, the roots will be softer and a little more limber. You should still be careful with the roots because they can still break, but they will be much easier to work with than if you had tried to divide your peony right after digging it.

Find a Nice Spot to Divide Your Peony

After your peony has had a chance to rest and soften up, find a nice spot to divide the peony. Look for a spot that your garden knife will go into nicely and it seems it would be easy to cut. You don't have to divide off one piece at a time. In fact I just divide mine in half and then half again and so on until I get the size divisions I want.

Separate the Peony into Two Pieces

Next after you have separated your peony into two separate pieces, look at each piece to see how many stems and or eyes are on each division. If the roots are large enough you may be able to divide them again, just as I could with this peony. The rule of thumb is that peonies should have at least 3 to 4 eyes on them to grow nicely. If you want a larger plant that will bloom even sooner, you may want to leave 6 to 8 eyes on your divisions.

Examine the Divisions to See if They Can Be Divided Further

If one of your peony roots is large enough that you can divide it into smaller pieces, find a spot on the peony root that the garden knife will fit nicely and allow you to separate it into two pieces with at least 3 to 4 eyes on each piece. Try to make the smallest cut possible so that you don't snap off any storage roots.

Cut the Divisions into Smaller Pieces (If Needed)

After you've divided your division, separate it into separate pieces. Remember not to make the divisions too small. If you have less than 3 to 4 eyes, it could take extra YEARS to get your peony to a good blooming size. So when it comes to dividing peonies, bigger divisions are much better than more divisions.

Separate the Divided Division

Then examine the other half of your original peony to see if it can be divided further as well. If so, repeat the steps above to divide that half into smaller divisions as well.

Divide the Other Half of Your Peony (If Needed)

Find a Spot Where the Garden Knife Fits Easily

Separate the Divisions

Cut the Divisions into Smaller Pieces (If Needed)

Results of the Peony Divisions - 5 Pieces

Monday, November 10, 2014

2014 Peony Sale with Free Shipping at Brooks Gardens

I just couldn't resist putting in one last peony order for the year. Especially when the peonies are on sale with free shipping! I checked out all of my favorite peony vendors to see who was having a good sale and if they had what I was looking for. After moving a few things around this year and giving away a few peonies, I had a couple open spots in my peony gardens that I needed to fill. I was looking for a really good double red peony to fill a spot near my deck where I grow mostly red colored flowers, an A. P. Saunders hybridized peony to fill a spot in my Saunders peony garden, and a multi-layer / multi-color very full bomb type peony to fill a spot in my drain field garden where I grow lots of other multi-color bomb peonies.

Brooks Gardens Peonies Sale
15% Off & Free Shipping

When I came across the Brooks Gardens web site, it said they were having a sale with 15% off all peonies and free shipping. I love free shipping! I found a nice double red peony, Peony 'Henry Bockstoce' and a Saunders peony named Peony 'Skylark'. However I didn't see any multi layer bomb peonies that caught my eye, but I did find Peony 'Prairie Moon', which I have, but I feel sure it is mislabeled. So I'd like to get the correct plant. After filling my cart with 2 out of 3 must haves and another nice to have, I checked out! I got all three of the peonies 15% off and free shipping as well! So if you're looking for a new peony or a few peonies to fill some spots in your garden with beautiful colors, be sure to check out the sale at Brooks Gardens Peonies!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

2014 Transplant Lavender Ruffles Peony Seedling

Peony Seedling Test Bed

This is a current picture of my peony seedling test bed. I wanted to transplant my Favorite Peony Seedling - Semi-Double Pink Violet (which I have nicknamed Peony 'Lavender Ruffles') from this peony seedling bed to a place where it will have more room to grow. The Peony 'Lavender Ruffles' is the peony with the light green foliage to the right of the peony with the powdery mildew. Considering its close proximity to the other peonies affected by the powdery mildew and the fact that it has not totally succumbed to the disease, it seems fairly disease resistant.
Peony 'Lavender Ruffles'
Peony 'Lavender Ruffles'
Fall Foliage

The foliage of Peony 'Lavender Ruffles' has an interesting pattern in the fall. It appears to be green edged in gold. The plant is also fertile as well. As you can see from the empty seed pod, it produced seeds in its first year of bloom. After digging up the peony plant, the roots and crown appear to be neat with long storage roots emanating from the crown.
Peony 'Lavender Ruffles'
Seed Pod
Peony 'Lavender Ruffles'
Dug Up

Next I removed the foliage with some pruners before replanting the roots. I moved this peony from my peony seedling bed to my peony seedling test bed. It will have much more room to grow in its new location, and allow me to evaluate it more closely. I also added a garden label beside the roots so that I can find it next spring. When replanting the peony, I accidentally broke off one of its storage roots. I hope it will still bloom again next year. If it does it will have overcome an extra challenge! I can't wait to see how its ruffled lavender blooms look next year!

Peony 'Lavender Ruffles' Pruned and Replanted

Friday, November 7, 2014

2014 Enjoy Fall Peony Foliage Colors

Fall Peony Foliage beneath Magnolia 'Susan'

I am really enjoying the fall colors on my peony foliage this year. The beautiful greens, golds, oranges, and burgundy colors of the changing peony foliage and contrast of the bright green grass and trees leaves particularly delight me. Usually fall is not one of my favorite seasons, but I am learning to appreciate it more and more. Even though the trees are losing their foliage and the peonies are starting to die back, fall is still a time of renewal. It is just another part of the cycle of living things and without it, we would not be able to enjoy the anticipation of seeing those first peony sprouts creeping up from the ground in the spring.

Fall Peony Foliage Contrasts Nicely with Green Fescue

I am also really amazed this year by the bi-tone colors of some of the fall peony leaves. I was particularly impressed with Peony 'Paul M. Wild's orange and golden petals and Peony 'Belleville's green and red petals. Also if you are looking for a great late season bloomer, Peony 'Paul M. Wild' was named a Week 7 Southern Peony Best Performer because of its late season blooms that last late into the peony season unlike any other. So if you're looking to extend your peony bloom season and would like some fall season entertainment as well, Peony 'Paul M. Wild' may be the peony for you!

Peony 'Paul M. Wild' Golden & Orange Fall Foliage

Peony 'Belleville' Green & Red Fall Foliage

Sunday, November 2, 2014

2014 Southern Peony NC State Fair Ribbons

I was so excited to see the ribbon I won at the NC State Fair this year! In the first flower show I won 4 1st place blue ribbons, 1 2nd place red ribbon, and 2 3rd place white ribbons! I didn't enter the second flower show, and in the third flower show I won 1 1st place blue ribbon, 2 2nd place red ribbons, 4 3rd place white ribbons, a green honorable mention ribbon, and one giant orange Award of Merit ribbon! This is the first year that I entered more than one flower show. Usually I just enter the first show, and that's it. This year I decided to enter more than one, and I am really happy with the results! Winning all of these ribbons in the NC State Fair this year really makes me want to win my first peony ribbon. So I am going to try to enter at least a few flowers into the American Peony Society peony exhibition this year. I'll let you know how it goes... :-)

Southern Peony NC State Fair Ribbons