Sunday, April 30, 2017

2017 Peony Blooms Week 4 Mid Season

Either there are lots of red peonies blooming this week, or I just happened to take pictures of lots of reds blooming this week. :-) We finally got the much needed rain. I think Mother Nature tried to make up for our year's rain deficit all in one storm. I don't even know exactly how much rain this storm dropped on us over 3 days, but I do know my rain gauge measures up to 5 inches, and it was all the way full! We did get a few days of sun once the storm had passed, which gave me an opportunity to snap a few sunny peony pictures this week! Enjoy!

Peony 'Many Happy Returns'

Peony 'Miss America'

Peony 'Scarlet O'Hara'

Peony 'Pink Princess'

Peony 'Topeka Garnet'

Peony 'Pink Derby'

Saturday, April 29, 2017

2017 Intersectional Peony 'Sonoma YeDo' Blooms!

Remember that box I received in January, 2017 First Intersectional Peony Gift from a Friend? Well, I am happy to report that it actually did bloom this year. This Intersectional Peony 'Sonoma YeDo' had only one bloom on it this year, but what a lovely bloom it is! The flower is so full, so full of petals of a rich, luxurious yellow. I haven't seen another peony quite like it. I was so tempted to cut this flower in bud to enter it into this year's 2017 American Peony Society Convention in Raleigh, NC, but I just couldn't resist seeing it bloom in my own garden! I'm guessing this gorgeous flower probably would have won a ribbon in the Exhibition, but seeing it bloom on the bush was worth missing out on a ribbon! Plus I want to keep as much foliage as possible on this Intersectional Peony 'Sonoma YeDo' bush so that it can grow even larger next year!

Intersectional Peony 'Sonoma YeDo'

Intersectional Peony 'Sonoma YeDo'

Thursday, April 27, 2017

2017 In Love with Tree Peony 'Angel Emily'

Tree Peony 'Angel Emily'

I can't help it! I'm in love! Tree Peony 'Angel Emily' is the best tree peony I've ever grown. Not that I have grown that many of them (but I have grown a few - at least tried to grow and tried and tried). Okay, I've killed a couple tree peonies along the way, and it seems like none of them really ever want to get established, but Tree Peony 'Angel Emily' is a totally different story! This tree peony actually grows and grows and grows bigger each year - and more beautiful, with more blossoms on it. This year it actually had 3 blooms on it, and they were all this gorgeous shade of lavender. One of the blooms had already finished, and these two blooms opened a bit later.

Tree Peony 'Angel Emily' Blooms

It's like this tree peony grows how tree peonies are actually supposed to grow. I haven't quite had a tree peony yet to impress me. Sometimes I'd get a couple blooms the first year from the grafted stems of a tree peony, then I'd get no blooms, then the plant might get smaller, or sometimes just grow the same size as it was the year before (very disappointing). However Tree Peony 'Angel Emily' has been a totally different story. I think it had a bud on it the first year, but it didn't mature, the next year had no buds, but the bush got larger and larger. You could tell it was adapting and growing. The next year (this year), the bush was even larger and had three blooms on it. I can't wait to see what it does next year!

Tree Peony 'Angel Emily' Bloom

I was even able to use some fresh pollen from this gorgeous tree peony to pollinate the blooms on my herbaceous Peony 'Martha W.' during the 2017 Good Peony Hybridizing Weather we had last week. So even if the year old pollen I had in the freezer doesn't work, at least I will have tried some fresh pollen too! We will see which pollen actually does a better job at producing seeds. It would be great to get some intersectional peony seeds from this cross, especially since lavender and purple are my favorite colors. :-) We shall see...

Tree Peony 'Angel Emily' Bush

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

2017 Intersectional Peony Blooms Week 3 Early Mid

This week we started to get more of a range of colors in the intersectional peony blooms, with the yellow intersectionals starting to open up. In addition to yellow colored blossoms there were also some whites, pinks, and peach tones as well. It was so nice to see the intersectional peony blooms open, the plants and blooms getting better each year. There were also some new blossoms I'd never seen before. It is always so nice to see a new peony bloom for the first time! I hope you are all enjoying your gardens as much as I am this year! Happy Peony Bloom Season!

Intersectional Peony 'Misaka' 美 (Beautiful Blossom)
aka 'Smith Opus 1'

Intersectional Peony 'Hillary'

Intersectional Peony 'White Emperor'

Intersectional Peony 'Yellow Emperor'

Intersectional Peony 'Callie's Memory'

Intersectional Peony 'Takara' 慈悲 (Treasure)
aka 'Smith Opus 2'

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

2017 Free Mulch for Peonies and Garden

Free Wood Chip Mulch for Peonies

I was kind of worried this might not come in. I've been calling my tree service guy for about 4 months now asking for free wood chips. I also called all around town to other tree services, but hadn't had any luck finding any wood chips. I was getting really desperate knowing the 2017 American Peony Society Convention being held in Raleigh, NC this year (and there might be a few visitors to my garden). I decided to try the tree service guy I know one more time a week ago. This time he finally said he'd be working in my area and could bring me some mulch! I was overjoyed. Now comes the hard part. Time to get to work shoveling, hauling, dumping, and raking! As you can see my Peony 'Keiko' (Adored) in the background is really happy about getting the new mulch too! :-) If you don't grow Peony 'Keiko' I highly recommend it. It is an outstanding and consistent plant, and is one of my Southern Peony Best Performers.

Monday, April 24, 2017

2017 Peony 'Julia Rose' Best Performer - Week 3

I just can not stop looking at (or taking pictures of) this Peony 'Julia Rose' plant this year. Every bloom on the plant is gorgeous. The colors of the petals are beautiful ombres of pink, orange, and coral. This intersectional Peony 'Julia Rose' was hybridized by Roger Anderson and does not yet seem to be registered. However this plant has been on the market for quite some time. This plant holds the flowers nicely above the foliage and the blooms are spaced evenly around the plant. The blooms open over a period of time, so you get to enjoy the blooms for a couple weeks. If you don't yet grow Intersectional Peony 'Julia Rose', it should definitely be on your list. You can find this peony for sale from several growers on my 2017 Intersectional Peony Catalog Price Comparison List. Good luck!

Intersectional Peony 'Julia Rose'
Southern Peony Best Performer

Intersectional Peony 'Julia Rose'
Southern Peony Best Performer

Sunday, April 23, 2017

2017 Peony Blooms Week 3 Early Mid

It was a hard week for my peonies, another week of dry, sunny weather (which makes for great peony photos!). However I can tell the flowers and stems are a bit sad and wishing for rain. Also it seems the foliage and flowers are smaller than usual. I don't think we've made up for our lack of rain in February, and so the ground is still a bit drier than normal. We are definitely down from the average amount of rainfall so far this year. Despite the challenges, the peonies still managed to show up with some amazing blooms. Take a look... I hope your early peonies are growing and blooming for you too! :-)

Peony 'Salmon Dream'

Peony 'Do Tell'

Peony 'Etched Salmon'

Peony 'Green Lotus'

Peony 'Pink Spritzer'

Peony 'White Cap'

Saturday, April 22, 2017

2017 Cutting Peony Stems for the APS Convention & Exhibition

Cut Peony Stems for APS Exhibition

I finally found a bit of time to cut a few stems for the American Peony Society 2017 Convention. I've been so busy that I've almost let this slip away from me. Most of my early peonies have already opened and are too far past the point needed to cut them for the flower show. So I guess I won't be showing any Saunders hybrids this year. However my mid season peonies are starting to bloom as well as my intersectionals. So there are still several choices left to cut. If you are new to showing flowers and feel a little intimidated about it, don't worry. I made all the mistakes two years ago. Remember the steam bath many of my peony stems needed for my 2015 APS Convention Exhibit Peony Preparation?

Cut Peony Stems with Soft Buds

This year I am cutting the blooms a little less "hard" than I did last year. I guess I was worried if there were any petals showing the flowers would go bad, but now I've learned that if you cut the buds too small and hard, they just do not open. Also single flowers will open faster than double flowers. So you want to make sure your huge double flowered buds are mature enough when you cut them. As you can see this years cuts are a bit larger and showing a bit more petal than the cuts I did 2 years ago, 2015 Cut First Stems for APS Peony Exhibition. We'll see how it works out. Hopefully I don't get any more mold, and the blooms open well without a steam bath!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

2017 Good Peony Hybridizing Weather

Pollinated Peony Bloom Protected by Sheer Bag

I'm not sure how, but somehow this week I have managed to get up early enough every day for the last week to get my pollen out of the freezer, go outside with a trash can, scissors, pollen, and bags/tags to work on hybridizing Peony 'Martha W.' - all before getting the kids ready and out the door for school/preschool and then getting myself ready for work! :-D I think my first failure - 2017 Intersectional Peony Hybridizing Failure - has made me even more determined to succeed.

Frozen Pollen and Bags for Protection

The weather has mostly cooperated. It has been quite dry now for a couple of weeks. Doing this hybridzing work to remove the petals and stamens and then applying a pollen to the stigmas for all these days in a row, and has made me come to appreciate the dry weather we've been having. I wouldn't want all of this pollen to just get washed right off! However the non-hybridizing, peony grower side of me keeps wishing for the rain!

First Day Peony Crosses Protected By Paper Bags

Many of the peonies in my garden are still growing leaves and flower buds and need additional moisture to grow well. The pollen I've been using is frozen from pollen I collected last year at the convention during the 2016 APS Peony Convention Tour of Solaris Farms. Nate Bremer very generously told all of his visitors that they were welcome to collect as much pollen as the would like. So I'm hoping that some of this tree peony pollen that has been frozen for one year is still good! Only time will tell.

Second Day Peony Crosses Protected By Sheer Bags

I have been keeping the pollinated blooms protected with a paper bag the first day and then a breathable, transparent bag the second day. I'm hoping this helps the pollination rates. Last year I used only the paper bags, and left them on the plant for much too long. I believe this had a negative impact on the number of fertilized seeds that were able to develop. Let hope this idea - sparked by Nate's mention that he was using cotton muslin bags as an experiment - will work!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

2017 Intersectional Peony Blooms Week 2 Early

I can't believe the intersectional peonies are already blooming! My early intersectional peonies all started blooming in shades of pinks, lavenders, and purples. However that color intersectional peonies are famous for - that rich, golden yellow has not yet appeared. I suppose the yellow intersectionals tend to bloom a bit later in the intersectional season. Peony 'First Arrival' was the first intersectional to bloom in my garden this year, a fitting name for this early intersectional. Peony 'Hillary' has been just gorgeous this year. This plant has really settled in and taken off. Peony 'Sonoma Amethyst' and Peony 'Morning Lilac' are both Southern Peony Best Performers, and they are both living up to their reputations this year as well. If you haven't started your intersectional peony collection yet, now's the time. I can't say enough good things about them! :-)

Intersectional Peony 'First Arrival'

Intersectional Peony 'Hillary'

Intersectional Peony 'Sonoma Amethyst'

Intersectional Peony 'Morning Lilac'

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

2017 New Peony Seedling 'Pink Zebra'

Peony 'Pink Zebra'

Wow! What a surprise to find this interesting animal in my peony bed this week. This peony had quite an interesting pattern on it with light and dark pink stripes that extend all the way down the petal. I don't think I've seen anything quite like it. It kind of reminds me of a pink zebra! So for now, I have nicknamed it Peony 'Pink Zebra'. I will definitely be moving this one to my peony seedling test bed to keep a closer eye on it next year. I am wondering if it will keep the stripes next year.

Pink Striped Petal Herbaceous Peony

I'm also wondering if it will be as floriferous as its mother, an unknown white peony that is the most floriferous peony I've ever grown! It was sold to me as Peony 'Seraphim', but obviously it is not. The APS Cultivar Registry for 'Seraphim' clearly states "Less tall than Chalice, with flowers not so huge. Abundant bloomer. White single. Earlier than Chalice." This peony is definitely an abundant bloomer and a white single form peony. However this plant blooms about 10 days later than 'Chalice'. Whoever it is, I hope its babies will inherit that floriferousness that fills that plant like their mother. I will be curious to see how many blooms appear on Peony 'Pink Zebra' in the next few springs!

Unknown White Floriferous Peony
Peony 'Pink Zebra''s Mother

Monday, April 17, 2017

2017 Peony 'Lustrous' Best Performer - Week 2

I have loved this peony, Peony 'Lustrous', for years now. It is just so hard to get a photo of the plant with several blooms on it all at once! The buds usually open over a period of time instead of all at one time. So you don't get a plant full of blooms effect with this peony variety. However the upside of that is that you get to enjoy them bloom by bloom over a period of time. As you can see two of the flowers have already opened and faded in this photo, several are open, and there are 6 big fat buds on it still waiting to open! Peony 'Lustrous' was hybridized by A. P. Saunders and registered in 1942. It is one of the standout peonies in my Saunders peony garden. It is beautiful for it rare, true red coloring, its early season, and its very full, semi-double flowers when most other herbaceous peonies opening at this time are single petaled blooms. If you haven't yet added Peony 'Lustrous' to your early blooming peony collection, now's the time, so you too can enjoy these luscious red peony blooms!

Peony 'Lustrous'
Southern Peony Best Performer

Peony 'Lustrous'
Southern Peony Best Performer

Sunday, April 16, 2017

2017 Peony Blooms Week 2 Early

It was another very colorful week this week for peonies. The early blooms are popping up, but the bushes are in need of some rain. We started the year short of rain in February, but we had a pretty good March. However April is shaping up to be much drier. I hope we get some rain soon! The peonies really need the moisture to keep up with their impressive stem and bud growth at this stage. If they get too dry, both stem and bud growth will be limited. Come on rain! I guess the good thing about not having much rain during this foliage growth period is a decided lack of botrytis blight - which is okay with me! :-)

Peony 'Raspberry Charm'

Peony 'Roy Pehrson's Best Yellow'

Peony 'Coral Fay'

Peony 'Skylark'

Peony 'Lavender'

Peony 'Grace Root'

Saturday, April 15, 2017

2017 Questions - Peony 'Old Faithful' Slow to Increase

I received this question from Pauline in zone 5b:

"I have a quick question for you regarding Old Faithful, which you seem to grow. What is your increase of stems year over year?

"I planted Old Faithful in fall 2015, along with 14 other varieties of peonies. (Long story short: I've been apartment living in cities for many years and finally moved out to a house. I've always loved peonies and went a little crazy when I could finally grow them!) The first year Old Faithful had two stems and two flowers. This year there seems to be only three large "buds" emerging. I've looked all over and no one mentions that Old Faithful is slow to increase. It is mentioned regarding other cultivators (I.e. Henry Bockstoce). Old Faithful is in a raised bed of amended soil, spaced 3 feet from other peonies, and the other peonies have at least doubled stems year over year."

"I only ask as we are planning to move and I would like to divide and take the plants to our new home. I am hoping Old Faithful has enough eyes to divide. Thanks for your time on this!"

Peony 'Old Faithful' in 2017 with 2 Stems

I must say that I am quite disappointed with this peony plant right now, actually. The increase was great at first, but now it seems to be struggling. Also this plant is in one of my best beds in the yard. It has good access to sun, moisture, and is free from competition. I have grown this Peony 'Old Faithful' since 2008. The stem increase seemed to be good at first, 1 stem (2009), 3 stems (2010), 7 stems (2011), 9 stems (2012), and then it has been steadily declining ever since. I have tried giving it good compost and organic fertilizer since it has started declining, but it has not helped. The next year it went down to 7 stems (2013), 7 stems (2014), 5 stems (2015), and 3 stems (2016). This year it only has 2 stems (2017) on it. Sometimes it may pop up a late stem, but so far, there are only 2 stems on it this year. So I really can't say if your peony will be large enough to divide. If you want to keep it, you may need to just dig the whole thing up and take it with you. This plant has very thick, large stems and a great habit - which make it seem like it should be a great garden plant, but its recent steady decline has really disapointed me. :-(

Friday, April 14, 2017

2017 Intersectional Peony Hybridizing Failure

I don't think I need an expert opinion to see that this seedling looks like an herbaceous peony. That's too bad. It was so exciting when I first saw this baby pop up 2017 First Intersectional Hybrid Seedling Sprouts!, and was wondering what it might look like someday. I guess I can still wonder, but the results probably won't be what I was hoping for. Oh, well. It looks like it is time to get back to work. This year's hybridizing season is upon us. The peonies are starting to bloom, and its time to try to make some new crosses! If at first you don't succeed, try, try again! (until you do!). :-)

Intersectional Hybridizing Attempt Failed