Sunday, May 29, 2016

2016 American Peony Society Convention in 3 Days!

The biggest and best peony event all year starts in just 3 short days! This year the American Peony Society Annual Convention is convening in Green Bay, Wisconsin. If you haven't booked your trip yet, it's probably too late to register for all of the convention tours and activities. However, the Peony Exhibit and educational Peony Seminars on Saturday are FREE and open to the public! So there's still time to join us for those! If you are coming to the convention, I hope to see you there. If you're not attending this year, don't worry. I'll have full coverage of all of the APS Convention Events right here for you to enjoy just like I did last year in these Southern Peony Convention Articles. Hopefully you'll see how much fun you're missing and join us all next year! :-)

Southern Peony APS Convention Collage

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

2016 Peony Blooms Very Very Late - Week 8

Wow! This is definitely a first for me! We had our first every Week 8 of peony blooms! (And there are still a few stragglers left on the bushes in Week 9!) I think it is safe to say that we had really weird weather during our spring warm up this year. Most of these peonies are normally Week 6 peonies. Except for Peony 'Guidon', which is normally a Week 5 bloomer and Peony 'Kelway's Glorious', which is normally a Week 7 bloomer. Usually by Week 7 we don't have too much left here. However, this year's 2016 Peony Blooms Very Late - Week 7 had many types still opening, and also there were many peonies still opening into a full Week 8. Amazing! This year's very cool and very slow warm up, with many cloudy days and plenty of rain later in the peony season gave us just the right weather needed to extend the peony blooming this year! Awesome! I hope you enjoyed your peony bloom season this year (or are still enjoying)! :-)
Intersectional Peony 'Garden Treasure'
Peony 'White Frost'
Peony 'Raspberry Sundae'
Intersectional Peony 'Yellow Crown'
Peony 'Guidon'
Peony 'Kelway's Glorious'

Friday, May 20, 2016

2016 Peony 'Guidon' Best Performer - Week 7

I have had Peony 'Guidon' for a long time now - (over 10 years!), and it always makes a huge bush with loads of flowers. There are always multiple buds per stem. Even with the weight of several very large and very double pink flowers, the extra strong stems usually keep most blooms off of the ground. The characteristic of having multiple buds per stems also allows the flowers to open over a longer period, keeping this peony full of flowers for a couple of weeks. Peony 'Guidon' was hybridized by C. J. Nicholls and registered in 1941. This peony is a late bloomer. However, it doesn't always bloom this late in my garden. This has just been quite a weird weather year. However, if you are looking for a late blooming peony to brighten up your landscape (and your mood!), Peony 'Guidon' is it! This peony has is all - tons of colorful blooms, large healthy foliage, and perfectly shaped flowers, each one unique!

Peony 'Guidon'
Southern Peony Best Performer

Peony 'Guidon'
Southern Peony Best Performer

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

2016 Peony Blooms Very Late - Week 7

I guess you could say our bloom season is a little mixed up this year. The waves of cold weather we had earlier this year left the peonies confused. Some bushes only came up half a bush at a time, with some stems blooming much earlier and other stems on the same bush bloomer much later. Many of the peonies bloomed in different weeks this year, and it seems we will get 8 weeks of peony blooms this year. I'll give a report next week so you can see what was still blooming in our first ever "Week 8"! Only one of these peonies is a very late bloomer and the rest are not. Peony 'Celebrity', Peony 'Strawberry Wine', and Peony 'Karl Rosenfield' all usually bloom in Week 5. Peony 'Feather Top' and Peony 'Paul M. Wild' usually bloom in Week 6, and Peony 'Candy Stripe' is right on time since it does usually blooms in Week 7.
Peony 'Celebrity'
Peony 'Candy Stripe'
Peony 'Feather Top'
Peony 'Strawberry Wine'
Peony 'Karl Rosenfield'
Peony 'Paul M. Wild'

Monday, May 16, 2016

2016 Southern Peony Garden Party

My First Ever Southern Peony Garden Party was yesterday, and it was definitely a success, and brought a smile to many faces (including mine)! :-) There were still some peonies blooming. However, I will definitely have the party earlier next year when there are more peonies blooming. We are at the end of Week 6 / beginning of Week 7 here. So we are really at the end of the peony season. I think Week 4 / 5 would probably be ideal. So I am going to try for the beginning of May next year. The foliage as well as the flowers of my garden entertained (as well as my fairies!) ;-) There were some other things blooming besides peonies too - amaryllis, polyantha roses, irises, daylilies, annuals, etc. There were plenty of snacks, flavored teas, and of course homemade ice cream - the blueberry and strawberry combination flavor was definitely my favorite! All in all, it was a good day, with nice weather, and great company!

Southern Peony Garden Party

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

2016 Peony Blooms Late - Week 6

We finally got a break in the rain this week, and the peonies have decided to come out to play again. This year has been quite a weird year as far as peony blooms go. Some of the peony stems grew much later than the first flush leading to peony bushes that only bloom half way with the other half blooming a week or more later than the first bloom flush. Also some peonies have switched weeks and bloomed a bit later. We may even have 8 weeks of blooms here instead of 7 this year! I love the contrasting, multicolored centers on Peony 'Top Brass', Peony 'Sorbet', and Peony 'Laura Dessert'. Both Peony 'Mother's Choice' and Peony 'Angel Cheeks' are huge, fluffy double flowering peonies - the classic type. Peony 'Topeka Garnet' is a huge, red, single flowering peony with a rare color and form this week. I can't believe my peony season will be coming to a close soon. I feel like I need to get out there and snap lots more photos before they all disappear! I hope you are enjoying your own peony bloom season!
Peony 'Sorbet'
Peony 'Top Brass'
Peony 'Mother's Choice'
Peony 'Topeka Garnet'
Peony 'Angel Cheeks'
Peony 'Laura Dessert'

Sunday, May 8, 2016

2016 Southern Peony BEST. FLOWER. EVER.

I just couldn't resist sharing this photo of my flower, my little baby Maddox. I can only call him baby for a little while longer as he's almost a toddler. (Although he'll always be my baby.) He'll be 2 on June 1st. Maddox loves the "hua huas" - Chinese baby talk for flowers. He wanted to smell this peony and accidentally took a few petals off to smell them. I usually don't want him to pick them, but how could I resist this cuteness? Being a Mama is definitely a lot of work, but so worth it. I love him so much, and will always treasure this time when he is little, and I can have him near me every day. :-)

Maddox Smelling Peony 'Burma Joy'

Also here is a picture of Isabella pulling Maddox in the garden cart. When Maddox is "helping" me in the garden, I will sometimes give Maddox a ride back in the garden dump cart after the cart has been dumped. Isabella remembered this, and decided to take Maddox on a garden cart joy ride! They were so cute, I just couldn't resist snapping this photo!

Isabella Pulling Maddox in the Garden Cart

Friday, May 6, 2016

2016 Peony 'Takara' (Treasure) Best Performer - Week 5

Peony 'Takara' 慈悲 (Treasure) aka 'Smith Opus 2' is another one of the peonies in Monrovia's Japanese Itoh Collection that was hybridized by Don R. Smith. This bush surprised me this year with its beauty and blooms this week in the mid late season. The flowers on this plant are more like a single. However, the color of the blooms is just gorgeous, with a pink orange color in the center of the petals with a wide picotee edge of an almost pink lavender color. Then the center of the blooms have hot pink red center flares that kind of form a star pattern! The blooms themselves may be single, but they are huge! If you are looking for another valuable and worthy intersectional peony to add to your collection, Peony 'Takara' 慈悲 (Treasure) is it!

Peony 'Takara' 慈悲 (Treasure)
'Smith Opus 2'
Southern Peony Best Performer

Peony 'Takara' 慈悲 (Treasure)
'Smith Opus 2'
Southern Peony Best Performer

Thursday, May 5, 2016

2016 Intersectional Peony Blooms Late Mid - Week 5

The intersectional peonies in my garden have really been at their peak this week. This is the week that the majority of the cultivars began to open, and there are also the most total intersectional peony blooms of any week so far. The beauty of these blooms just blows me away. (BTW - You can click on any of these photos to see a larger than life sized version, so you can be blown away as well!) Peony 'Cora Louise' has the largest blooms of all of the intersectional peonies in this group. Peony 'Cora Louise' has pastel white blossoms with dark purple flares that radiate out from the center. The deep red flares on Peony 'Misaka' really impressed me this year. The red flares on this light orange peony extend further out into the bloom, and the symmetry of the petals make this a gorgeous bloom viewed from all angles - from above and from the side. Peony 'Julia Rose' and Peony 'Hillary' both have bright, pleasing pink red shades that aren't often found in herbaceous peonies. The vivid, intense colors of Peony 'Yellow Emperor' and Peony 'Scarlet Heaven' really catch your eye and make them standouts in the garden that are visible from afar.
Intersectional Peony
'Cora Louise'
Intersectional Peony
'Julia Rose'
Intersectional Peony
Intersectional Peony
'Scarlet Heaven'
Intersectional Peony
'Yellow Emperor'
Intersectional Peony
'Misaka' 美 (Beautiful Blossom)

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

2016 Peony Blooms Late Mid - Week 5

The blooms this week are fuller and richer in form and color. Even though we've had quite a bit of rain, the foliage has stayed mostly disease free since it is in a more mature state. If we would have gotten this much rain earlier in the season, the peonies would have been in trouble. Despite the rain, I was able to capture several sunny photos of some of my favorite blooms this week. Wow! This week's Late Mid Week 5 photos are almost entirely a lineup of American Peony Society Gold Medal Winners. Peony 'Salmon Dream', Peony 'White Cap', Peony 'Many Happy Returns', Peony 'Do Tell' and Peony 'Kansas' have all been awarded this honor. All of these selection generally do well here except Peony 'Many Happy Returns'. I may get a few blooms from this plant before its twisted foliage becomes diseased. Peony 'Red Grace' is an awesome plant and surpasses the beauty of Peony 'Red Charm' (a standard of reds) in my opinion. If you like red, Peony 'Red Grace' is a must grow!
Peony 'Salmon Dream'
Peony 'White Cap'
Peony 'Red Grace'
Peony 'Many Happy Returns'
Peony 'Do Tell'
Peony 'Kansas'

Monday, May 2, 2016

2016 Southern Peony Grandma's Peonies

This past Friday I went to visit my Grandma and see her flower garden. She is the reason I wanted to grow peonies. My Grandma always has always had the best and biggest flower garden of anyone in our family, and I loved helping her in her flowers when I was a child. She likes to tell everyone the story of how I would stay outside deadheading flowers in her garden for her, long after she and my cousin had grown tired and gone inside. We took this photo in her garden on Friday. These two white peonies are some divisions from one of the original peony bushes she had in her garden when I was young. Back then Grandma's peony bushes seemed to be 4 or 5 feet tall, and the flowers were huge and smelled so good! Either I had quite the imagination or I was just much smaller and the perspective made them seem like giants! I'm guessing these "giant" double peonies are Peony 'Festiva Maxima' since they are fragrant, large, white double peonies with a few specks of red in the center. I love my grandmother very much and I feel very grateful to her for giving me the love of gardening, flowers, and especially peonies!

My Grandma and Me with her White Double Peonies

Sunday, May 1, 2016

2016 Peonies for Spring Carolina Plant Swap

Southern Peony Seedlings for the Plant Swap

Yesterday was the Spring Carolina Plant Swap, and I spent the morning digging some of my most successful plants that needed a bit of dividing for donation to the plant swap. This is one of my favorite gardening events besides the American Peony Society Convention (which is coming up in less than one month!) This Carolina Plant Swap event happens twice a year, and I usually try to make it to at least one per year, two if I can. It is a great way to try plants you wouldn't normally grow (or pay for), and some plants that grow really well in your area, and even some plants you've never seen before! I always try to bring a couple peonies to help increase interest in the plant here in the South. Peonies can and do grow well here in the South - the biggest key is not planting the roots too deep. If you'd like to find a garden swap in your area to exchange plants (and hopefully help spread the love of peonies), I'd recommend signing up for an account on, (previously GardenWeb, now called Houzz), finding the forum for your area and then looking at the Exchange forum, which is listed as a Related forum at the top of the page. Good Luck!

Southern Peony Pink Peony Seedlings