Monday, June 27, 2016

2016 Intersectional Peony Hybridizing Seed Pods

Seed Pod on Peony 'Martha W.'

Well I think my Peony 'Martha W.' plants had about 20 blooms on them this spring. However, between kids, work, and the weather, I was only able to pollinate about half of them - 11 blooms. I cut off all of the other blooms that I wasn't able to pollinate so that only the 11 I intentionally hybridized would attempt to set seed. There were 6 blooms pollinated on one plant and 5 blooms pollinated on the other. So of all the pollinated flowers, only half of those actually set seed. One reason for some of the failure may have been because I left the bags that cover the cross on for too long. I didn't think it would harm them, but apparently it does. When I found out, some of them had already been left on for 3-5 days. Apparently you're only supposed to leave the bag on for 1-2 days at the most. This could be why none of my previous crosses have worked.

Peony 'Martha W.' Being Pollinating (April 2016)

1 Seed Pod and 5 Failed Seed Pods on Peony 'Martha W.' (June 2016)

These Peony 'Martha W.' plants were crossed with tree peony pollen. So I can't wait to see what grows from these seeds. Even though I have my first ever intentionally hybridized seeds growing, I don't think I'll feel the entire experiment is a success until I see some of these seeds sprout. (And then I probably won't feel I've made a successful cross until I see them bloom!) So this process will take several years before the real results are known. However, I am excited that the process has begun, and the first step has succeeded!

Seed Pod and Failed Seed Pod on Peony 'Martha W.'

It is easy to see which seed pods are successful and which seed pods failed to produce seed. The seed pods that are actually growing seeds begin to swell and continue to swell as the months progress. However, the failed seed pods will start to shrink and turn brown as the months progress. You can see the very large, swollen, bright green seed pod in the same photo as a very small, dark brown, shriveled seed pod above. Now that I know some rare seeds are coming, I will have to think of a special place to plant these seeds. Of course I will document the germination rates for these seeds next spring. When the leaves start to sprout, then at least I'll know that these truly are intersectional seedlings and will know that the second step has succeeded. I can't wait to see what pops up!

Peony 'Martha W.' Being Pollinated (April 2016)

4 Seed Pods and 1 Failed Seed Pod on Peony 'Martha W.' (June 2016)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

2016 APS Gold Medal Winner Peony 'Eliza Lundy'

Peony 'Eliza Lundy'
Photo Courtesy of Countryside Gardens Peony Farm

Well, it's official. The American Peony Society has selected Peony 'Eliza Lundy' to be the 2016 American Peony Society Gold Medal Winner and 2017 Peony of the Year. Laverne from Countryside Gardens Peony Farm gracefully allowed me to display these Peony 'Eliza Lundy' photos since I do not grow this peony myself. I'm also not sure how well this peony would grow here since it is a short variety and short varieties tend to not grow well here. However, from these photos it looks like it grows very well in Minnesota! If you want to add one of these peonies to your collection, it looks like Countryside Gardens Peony Farm is selling this peony for fall delivery! Peony 'Eliza Lundy' is a clear, red double that was hybridized by Krekler and registered in 1976. If you'd like to see the rest of the APS Gold Medal selections, check out the full list of American Peony Society Gold Medal Recipients.

Peony 'Eliza Lundy'
Photo Courtesy of Countryside Gardens Peony Farm

Saturday, June 11, 2016

2016 Peony Purchases from Klehm's Song Sparrow Tour

Potted Peonies Purchased on Klehm's Song Sparrow Farm Tour

Wow! My plants from the APS Peony Convention Tour of Song Sparrow arrived this week, and I got them planted today. I purchased three peonies in their $15 potted plant sale - Peony 'Carl G. Klehm', Peony 'Lake o' Silver', and Peony 'Lora Dexheimer'. Two of these peonies had blooms on them when I purchased them. So I know I was getting the correct variety. I really like that. Unfortunately one of them didn't have a bloom on it, but I wanted that one so bad I bought it anyway. It was the last one of that variety that they had, that was potted and on sale for $15. It was Peony 'Carl G. Klehm', which got many votes and several nominations in the American Peony Society Gold Medal voting this year. So I guess Peony 'Carl G. Klehm' must be a pretty good peony to grow. Since it is so small, it might take a while to settle in. Hopefully I'll get some blooms from it eventually! :-)

Friday, June 10, 2016

2016 Peony 'Dreamtime' Pollen from Bill Seidl's Garden

Bill Seidl Showing Off His Peony 'Elizabeth Black'

After the American Peony Society convention, I had the opportunity to visit the garden of Bill Seidl as well as meet him in person. It was a lovely afternoon to tour his garden in a quiet subdivision in Manitowac, WI. The weather was perfect, and the flowers were even better. Bill seemed to be a very knowledgeable gardener, not just in peonies, but all kinds of trees, shrubs, and perennials. He had a story about each plant, and you could tell that each one of them was special to him. He told us the story of Elizabeth Black, an artist that drew portraits of WWII soldiers, for which he named the peony flower he is holding in the photo above, a yet unregistered seedling of his.

Me with Bill Seidl

Bill Seidl Showing Off His Garden to Fellow APS Members

While in the garden a peony stem was given to me on a whim, just before I had to leave for the airport. At first I kept it because it was pretty. What girl doesn't like flowers? ;-) It was Peony 'Dreamtime', a peony cultivar registered by Bill Seidl and Nate Bremer in 2013. I decided later that I would save this peony flower and try to use its pollen for breeding. So Peony 'Dreamtime' made the trip with me through the airport in Wisconsin, where it made everyone who saw it smile! :-) Now the pollen has been dried and put into the freezer for next year. Only time will tell if I'll get any babies from it...

Peony 'Dreamtime' in Bill Seidl's Garden

Peony 'Dreamtime' Pollen Drying

Saturday, June 4, 2016

2016 APS Peony Convention Banquet and Auction

2016 American Peony Society Banquet

The 2016 American Peony Society banquet was a nice meal with good friends and great times. The food was tasty - chicken, beef stew, ham, mashed potatoes, carrots, tomato and artichoke salad, garden salad, and corn bread. There was also strawberry cream cake and apple cobbler for dessert. The APS General Meeting was short. However, the APS did announce and recognize all of the individuals that got a peony on the Court of Honor, as well as those with special awards as well. Nate Bremer by far received the most ribbons of anyone in the show, including the Best in Show award, which were all well deserved. If you went on the tour of his farm during the 2016 APS Peony Convention Tour of Solaris Farms you'd know why.

2016 American Peony Society Special Award Winners

If you were looking for a good deal on peonies, the 2016 APS Convention Auction was the place to be. Jim and Lore did a great job as usual keeping us entertained while helping auction off plants to benefit the APS as well. This year there was a much larger variety of plants auctioned off - more than just peonies. There were magnolia trees, ginko trees, crabapple trees, Japanese maple trees, clematises, and a fringe tree that was quite popular. Of course the peonies were the main attraction, and there were so many to choose from. Many varieties went for $30 or less. However, there were some rare varieties in high demand that fetched more than $200-$300 dollars. There was also a silent auction that was new this year, and I think the best items in that auction were the honey from Blossom Hill Nursery and Don Smith's hat! :-D

2016 American Peony Society Auction Donations

2016 American Peony Society Auction Donations

Friday, June 3, 2016

2016 APS Peony Convention Tour of Solaris Farms

Nate Bremer Giving us an Introduction to Solaris Farms

Okay, I think the tour of Solaris Farms can be summed up in two words: PEONY HEAVEN. If you missed the tour of Nate Bremer's farm today, you missed a rare chance at a peek inside of not only a great peony farm, but a spectacular display garden, and a working hybridizers's garden too. There are treats everywhere for every kind of peony lover there is - from novice collector to connoisseur, from scholar to hybridizer to even peony grower. Every person I talked to said it was hard to find a peony they didn't want, and I wasn't the only one proclaiming his garden "peony heaven". The phrase passed many lips, and the garden sparked the imagination of so many - with ideas of from Nate's garden that they wanted to incorporate into their own, whether it be the immaculately kept weed-free beds, to the gently shaded peony rows.

Tree Peony 'Shiamine Chojuraku' at Solaris Farms

The design and layout of the garden is ultra organized with matching hand lettered, wood burned signs giving you directions around the garden and a peek inside the ideals of his hybridizing program. I like that his goals were right there in the garden spelled out on a huge natural, wooden sign - with him every day - reminding him of the qualities he most desires from his hybrids. His ideologies are evident not only on the sign, but in the beauty surrounding you in his gardens. Healthy, floriferous plants smile at you at every turn, begging a closer look and perhaps a photo or two or three!

Solaris Farms Seedling Field Sign with Hybridizing Goals

If you need a break from visiting the flower fields, there are many shaded and quiet spots in the garden where you could find a nice place to relax. There are picnic tables, benches tucked under flowering trees, arbors covered with vines to provide a bit of extra shade, and even a hammock hanging underneath a row of trees overlooking the peony fields. All of the planting beds are nicely edged with grass or rocks. The mulched beds contain paths of slate and stepping stones, leading you on a garden adventure through beds of peonies, daylilies, and lilium. A big, fluffy brown and white collie dog was happy to see the visitors as well and toured the garden with us. A bit of whimsy and an element of delight is added to the garden by the 'Tornado Chimes' - large musical instruments to be played by the wind with cast iron pots and old metal farm tools and equipment hung from ropes. (Of course I had to play them too!) There are so many unique plants to see and garden nooks to enjoy here, I wished we could have stayed and explored Solaris Farms all day.

Nate Bremer and Me at Solaris Farms

Thursday, June 2, 2016

2016 APS Peony Convention Tour of Song Sparrow

Klehm's Song Sparrow Hay Ride Tour

Klehm's Song Sparrow Farm was a joy to visit with fields full of a multitude of blooming rows of peonies. There were hay rides on tractors to fields of peonies blooming in almost every color you could imagine. The clouds in the field were as nice and fluffy as the clouds floating in the blue sky (maybe fluffier). My favorite peony blooming in their field was Peony 'Chiffon Clouds'. It is a super floriferous peony that opens a very pale pink and ages to white, covering the plant in a cloud of pink and white chiffon blossoms.

Klehm's Song Sparrow Shopping

I think most everyone was able to find something to take home with them from one of Song Sparrow's many greenhouses. They were running a special for $15 potted peonies, which was a great deal! I was able to find three I just had to have, and had shipped back home - Peony 'Carl G. Klehm', Peony 'Lake of Silver', and Peony 'Lora Dexheimer'. APS Members found much more than peonies at Song Sparrow's Farm and Nursery - there were carts filled with hostas, magnolia trees, clematises, and various other perennials too! We had a nice boxed lunch from Panera Bread with sandwiches, pickles, chips, and a cookie. Everyone had a chance to sit, eat, relax, and talk about their favorite peonies from the fields and the greenhouses.

Klehm's Song Sparrow Catered Lunch

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

2016 APS Peony Convention Picnic at Bay Beach

Well, I made it to Wisconsin. I must say Green Bay is much different than I expected. I was thinking that since they have a professional football team, the city would be large, but it is actually kind of small. However, the welcome picnic at Bay Beach park was very nice. The people were all very friendly and the picnic food very tasty - fried chicken, cole slaw, and green beans. We also got to sample some Wisconsin cheese in the cheese potato casserole.

APS Welcome Picnic at Bay Beach Park

The best part of the picnic was being able to meet friends new and old. Plant people are always the nicest people, and an APS Member you haven't yet met, is just a new friend waiting to be made. We arrived at the Bay Beach Park a little after 5pm, and most people were already there. We stayed until after 8pm when it was wrapping up and starting to get a little chilly. Everyone seemed to be excited about the upcoming tours and of course the flower show!
APS Convention Registration at Bay Beach Park