Sunday, February 25, 2018

2018 Record High Temperatures Help Tree Peonies Unfurl in Feburary

Tree Peony 'Yao Huang' 姚黃 (Yao's Yellow)

Today was our last day of 70 degree temperatures. Next week we'll be back in the 60s and 50s for the high. However as you can see from our 5 Day Forecast that we had earlier, we've been enjoying about a week of 70 degree temperatures. We had 3 days with record breaking high temperatures this February, and we went from winter to spring in 1 week flat. Let's hope Mother Nature is a bit more kind this year than she has been in previous years with those late killing frosts, 2017 Protect Peonies from Super Cold Overnight Temps.

February 21 - 5 Day Forecast

I don't see any below freezing overnight temperatures in the upcoming 10 day forecast. So there may be a chance that winter really is over here for 2018. I think Sir Walter Wally (North Carolina's groundhog) may have been right this year about the early spring. I sure am hoping that spring is here to stay (since that will mean more peony blooms in the garden). If the cold weather is gone for the season, we won't lose any peony buds to bud blast from a late spring freeze. I can only dream of how nice the peonies will look in the garden since we haven't had late cold bud-blast free peony season in years!

Tree Peony 'Kamata-nishiki' 鎌田錦

Sunday, February 18, 2018

2018 New Pricey Intersectional Peonies Debut at Swenson Gardens

I see that the Swenson Gardens 2018 catalog is now up, and in addition to their wide range of intersectional peony selections, they are also debuting several new pricey intersectional introductions registered in 2018 by Anderson / Swenson. I have updated my 2018 Intersectional Peony Catalog Price Comparison List with all of their intersectional peony offerings, if you'd like to compare their prices to other peony vendors. However none of these new Anderson / Swenson cultivars are available on any other peony grower's sites this year since they are brand new, and appear to be exclusive to Swenson Gardens.

New Exclusive Intersectional Peonies

The new intersectional peonies they are offering are: 'Peppermint Blush' a blush colored intersectional for $175, 'Predawn Beauty' a medium pink intersectional for $175, 'Purple Reign' a purple intersectional for $250, and 'Scarlet Heights' a red intersectional for $250. If big fluffly doubles are your thing these new intersectional intros may not be for you, since they are all single types. They do seem to have nice, clear colors, though. The purple one keeps calling my name, but I can't decide if it's worth the $250. It will probably be sold out by the time I make up my mind...

Saturday, February 17, 2018

2018 Questions - Yard Regrading, Moving Peonies, Planting Distance, Puppies

I received this question from Karen in zone 7a:

"Hi. I transplanted some very old peonies that belonged to my grandmother last September. I had 3 plants that ended up being divided into 6. They were pretty much just stuck in the ground in a corner of the yard that will get lots of sun. This part of the yard is boggy after recent snow. My peonies are mulched. Builders will be regrading my yard for better drainage. Do I ask them to work around my peonies or should I move them? My yard is very small and there are not many options. This is distressing. They are over 100 yrs old!"

"I live in Richmond Va. It appears that most of my peonies are beginning to put out shoots! Landscapers came and suggested they be moved to a different location. I have seven total but a tiny lot. He wants to put only three in my main border and says they will not be happy if too close together. I want more in the border. I guess he knows what he is doing 😬? Can I send a sketch of his proposed layout? What is the closest I can put them together? I also would love suggestions on keeping my pups away from them!"

Peony Landscape Plan

Thank you for sending the drawing from your landscaper. It sounds like you've already made the decision to move the peonies, which is probably a good idea if they are in a boggy area of your yard now. I can't tell what the scale is of the landscaper's drawing, but since the planting bed appears to be as longer or longer than your patio, I'm guessing it is pretty large. How far apart you plant your peonies depends on how you want your peonies to look when they grow larger in a couple years. Do you want them all to merge into a long line/shrub border of peonies? Or do you want them to stay separate and individually defined in your beds? If you want them to merge, then you can plant them 2-3 feet apart. If you want them to stay separate, then 4 feet or more apart would be suitable. Go with your gut, if you want more in that border, then just say so.

As for keeping your pups away from them, I would suggest putting some tomato cages around them. You can buy the smallest size of tomato cages, and cut them down shorter (possibly making 2 peony cages from 1 tomato cage). Alternatively you can also special order peony cages that are already the correct size, but you'll find they are much more expensive. If you are really worried about your pups getting to the peonies, you can also wrap the cages in deer netting around the outside.

Good luck with your grandmother's 100 year old peonies! I'd love to see some photos of them when they bloom. Send me a few if you get a chance!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

2018 Questions - Where to Buy Peonies Locally in NC or SC

I received this question from Roni in Zone 8a:

"Hi. My daughter lives in Wake Forest NC and I live in McColl SC. We are wondering where to buy good sized peonies. Any thoughts?"

I'm guessing by the question, you are looking to buy peonies in pots that are growing with foliage and perhaps even blooms. If this is the type of peony you are looking to buy, the best place to find these are at your local garden shops in spring. That way you can see what each plant looks like when it is growing (instead of buying a bare root). Sometimes you can find peony plants in pots that have been grown in the pot for more than 1 year, and are mature enough to have blooms. Also some companies (like Monrovia) will sell their peonies in even larger pots that are even more mature with many more blooms on them, like 2 gallon or even 5 gallon pots. Finding peonies to purchase locally does have its advantages. When you buy peonies locally you get to pick one out that already has blooms and/or lots of nice looking foliage. You also support local garden shops and the local economy. You are also expressing local demand for peonies. The more peonies local garden shops sell, the more they will carry and buy to sell next year, increasing your chances for more and newer varieties that will be locally-available in the future.

Buying Potted Peonies in Flower

Since NC is my home stomping ground, I can definitely recommend shop local garden shops here in Raleigh, NC. My favorite shops that I've seen and purchased potted peonies from are: Atlantic Gardening Company, where I purchased my current favorite peony, 2013 Monrovia Itoh Peony 'Keiko'™ 愛幕 (Adored), Homewood Nursery, who also donated peonies for the 2013 APS Peony Donation to JC Raulston Arboretum, Logan's, who helped promote the 2017 American Peony Society Convention in Raleigh, NC, and Plant Delights who hosted the APS Conference goers for a tour last year, 2017 American Peony Society Convention Tour of Plant Delights Nursery & Juniper Level Botanic Garden and I recently bought a tree peony from, 2017 Tree Peony Paeonia ostii at Plant Delights Nursery Open House, and offers quarterly open greenhouse weekends.

You should be able to find some local garden shops in your area (maybe Florence, SC or Fayetteville, NC) that carry peonies. Timing is key, however, to finding potted peonies and finding the best selection. You'll want to check/call your local garden shops in early April. If you wait until mid-May, there won't be much (if anything) left. Peonies with lots of buds and flowers will sell out first. If you wait too long, you may only find potted peonies with foliage. These flowerless potted peonies are still good to buy, but you will have to wait to see the blooms until next year or the year after, depending on how long it takes your peony to settle in to its new home. If you don't find any in your local area in SC, you might have a good excuse to come visit your daughter for a peony shopping trip in late April or early May. Once you've purchased your new peonies, make sure you plant them with they eyes at surface level. If you'd like more in depth tips about planting your peonies in the South, check our How To Page for lots more info on growing peonies! :-)

Also some of our readers may know of other local garden shops that sell potted peonies in the spring. If you know of a great, local nursery that sells peonies in the South, please post a comment and share it here!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

2018 Peony 'Yellow Crown' on Front Cover of k. van Bourgondien Catalog

k. van Bourgondien Catalog Cover Spring 2018
Peony 'Yellow Crown'

It was nice to receive an 8X10 full color glossy catalog in the mail with a photo of a yellow intersectional peony on the front of it. I have ordered from k. van Bourgondien in the past, but have unsubscribed from their catalog. I guess they decided to send me one more, and when I received this one with its huge, yellow intersectional blooms on the front, I couldn't help but smile. I know that it may be a gamble to order from them, and the prices are temptingly low $35 each or 3 for $80 (for most varieties), but you may not get the varieties you are hoping for. If nothing else, hopefully this will get people more interested in peonies. Intersectional peonies are such great growers, even if we just get one mislabeled variety into the hands of more gardeners, it will pique their interest in peonies and make them hungry for more! Then hopefully we can point them in the direction of more reliable, direct from the peony farm growers. :-)

k. van Bourgondien Spring 2018
Intersectional Peony Offerings

Thursday, February 1, 2018

2018 Technology in the Peony Garden

Today being the first day of February, and my dead peony stems having not been cut down yet, well, it seemed like the right day to do it. Spring will be here before we know it - no matter what Sir Walter Wally, the groundhog, says tomorrow. The weather man said that today's high of 59 would be the warmest day in the next 7 days. So it seemed like a great day to take advantage of the nice weather and get caught up on a gardening chore that I am exceptionally behind on. Being so behind, at first I just started to cut the stems to get it done as quickly as possible, intentionally skipping the recording of the number of peony stems, but then I had an idea...

Technology in the Peony Garden
Voice Dictated Memo Recording Peony Stem Counts

I decided to use my phone as a way to dictate the data, saving myself the trouble and time of printing out a chart, carrying a clipboard and pen into the garden, and taking the time between each plant to make the record (and trying to find my pen!) I once dreamed of bringing a tablet into the garden during my 2015 Peony Clipboard Data Entry, but now modern mobile phones are basically mini tablets. The smaller size made it even more convenient because I could just stow my phone in my pocket between clips, eliminating the need to carry and keep up with a tablet. Using the voice record feature in the Memo app, I just spoke all of my notes, and the phone typed them for me. Now that I've seen the light - the ease of using technology in the garden, I may never look back. Plus I'll be saving some trees and money in the process by eliminating the need for paper. It feels good all the way around. Have you used technology to help in the garden? If so, in what ways have you used technology in the garden and how has it helped you?