Thursday, June 28, 2018

2018 Southern Peony Wins 2 Artistic Design Ribbons at APS Convention

APS Artistic Design 1st Place
"The Pearl"

Well, there weren't any rosettes ribbons for me this year, but I did manage to eek out a 1st Place and 2nd Place ribbon in the two categories I entered in the Artistic Design Section of the American Peony Society Annual Exhibition. I must say, though, that I owe a large chunk of my awards to Mike Miller since he let me use the materials he'd meticulously curated from a local thrift shop. Since he was only allowed to enter 3 design categories, he let me use his remaining materials to enter "The Pearl" category. I did however select my own flowers from what all designers were allowed to use (the leftovers from the flower exhibition), and I also selected the greenery to go with it (from what Mike had sourced from local roadsides). He happened to have some blackberry brambles with small, green buds. To my eye these perfectly emulated tiny pearls and suited my arrangement for "The Pearl" category well.
APS Artistic Design 2nd Place
"Pittock Mansion"
APS Artistic Design 1st Place
"The Pearl"

My other arrangement was for the "Pittock Mansion" category. I figured for a Mansion you need big. So I tried to go as big as I could with what flowers and greenery was left over, but the size of my arrangement paled in comparison to Mike's 1st Place winning arrangement in the category (and Grand Champion Design), 2018 First Time Entrant, Mike Miller, Sweeps APS Peony Floral Arrangement Competition, which was awesome! Truth be told, the only reason I even won a 1st Place ribbon in "The Pearl" category was because there was no entry from Mike to compete with. All in all entering these designs into the APS Artistic Design categories was lots of fun. It was very surprising to win any ribbon at all (this being my first time ever entering an artistic design), and a 1st Place ribbon was even more exciting. I look forward to participating in the APS Exhibition in this way in future years, even when I don't have my own flowers to enter into the cut flower exhibit!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

2018 First Time Entrant, Mike Miller, Sweeps APS Peony Floral Arrangement Competition

Mike Miller of Great Seal Peony Farm
Wins APS Artistic Design Reserve Champion

Much to my (and everyone else's) surprise, a first time exhibitor in the Artistic Design section won all 3 Artistic Design Rosette ribbons awarded in the American Peony Society 2018 Flower Exhibition. That winner is Mike Miller of Great Seal Peony Farm in Ohio. He's no rookie to the APS Flower Exhibition, but this is his first foray into the design competition. I took the opportunity to speak with him about his artistic floral design winnings.

Mike Miller of Great Seal Peony Farm
Wins APS Artistic Design Novice Design Award

Mike Miller of Great Seal Peony Farm
Wins APS Artistic Design Grand Champion

How did it feel to win all 3 APS rosette ribbons in the Artistic Design peony floral arrangement categories (Grand Champion, Reserve Champion, and Best Novice Design)?

"Finding out that I had won all of the top 3 design awards was exciting and embarrassing at the same time. I was happy to win but also embarrassed that I took the awards away from others that had been competing for several years."

Were you surprised to find out that you won?

"I was very surprised when I first learned of receiving the top honors."

How does it encourage you in your peony growing and exhibitions?

"I am encouraged to try entering again in future conventions. This was my first year to enter the design classes. In a normal year I am too busy entering peonies in the commercial division classes and have never had enough time to do any designing. I was not able to take peonies this year to enter and therefore allowed me the time to enter the design classes. I am looking forward to a balance in future shows of entering peonies in their classes and doing more of the design classes."

APS Artistic Design Reserve Champion
"Tilikum Crossing"

Mike is so humble and so deserving. It really speaks to his creativity and attention to detail with the materials he used and the planning he put into creating on-point designs for each of the categories he entered. Mike told me that he visited a local thrift store after arriving in Oregon to find the containers and design elements for each of his arrangements. With the design categories in mind, he carefully selected pieces and accents that would fit each theme. Each year the APS creates categories with themes from the Exhibtion's locale. This year was no different, with each category reflecting features of Portland, Oregon.

Mike's "Tilikum Crossing" entry is anchored by two metal vases of varying height, mirroring Portland's Tilikum Crossing bridge's two towers. It also incorporates woody materials at the top of the arrangement emulating the bridge's cables and a ribbon connecting the two towers to form the "bridge". His "Tilikum Crossing" entry won First Place in its category, and it won the APS Artistic Design Reserve Champion rosette ribbon (the 2nd highest design award in the show).

APS Artistic Design Novice Design Award
"Union Station"

Mike's "Union Station" entry (my favorite) was anchored by a clock vase, just as Portland's Union Station is anchored by a towering clock tower, perfect! The use of color in this design is what really draws me to this entry, and of course all of the intersectional peonies don't hurt either! His "Union Station" entry won First Place in its category, and it won the APS Artistic Design Novice Design Award rosette ribbon.

Mike's "Pittock Mansion" entry was by far the largest and grandest entry on the show table - the scale and grandeur of the design definitely befitting a mansion. Even the vase was perfect - the intricrate, gilded design of the large vase belonged in the grand home of a wealthy industrialist investor. His "Pittock Mansion" entry won First Place in its category, and it won the APS Artistic Design Grand Champion rosette ribbon (the highest design award in the show). Congratulations, Mike!

APS Artistic Design Grand Champion
"Pittock Mansion"

Monday, June 25, 2018

2018 Hollingsworth Nursery Updates Catalog Adds 6 New Hot 100 Herbaceous Peonies

Hollingsworth Peonies
Adds 6 New Hot 100 Herbaceous Peonies

I just got an email from Hollingsworth Peonies saying they've updated their catalogs after checking their field inventories. I guess that's good news for them (and for us)! They added 6 new Hot 100 Herbaceous peonies that they weren't offering earlier this year (bringing their total offerings on the 2018 list up to 19!). So I've updated the full 2018 Herbaceous Hot 100 Peony Catalog Price Comparison List with all of their new offerings. When I saw they were offering Peony 'Nelda's Joy', I just had to buy it. Ever since I saw it in Bill Seidl's garden in 2016, 2016 Peony 'Dreamtime' Pollen from Bill Seidl's Garden, I have wanted it, but I hadn't seen it offered anywhere (until now)! Not to mention Don Hollingsworth himself named it as one of his newest registrations that he was most excited about in my interview with him in 2016, 2016 Peony Hybridizer Interview - Don Hollingsworth.

Peony 'Nelda's Joy'
Growing in Bill Seidl's Garden 2016

Hollingsworth Peonies also mentioned that they marked some items that were previously sold out as back in stock. So if there was something you missed out on earlier this year, you might want to check their web site now to see if it is back in stock. Also while I was purchasing peonies from Hollingsworth Peonies, I decided I should pick up a Peony 'Lavon' as well since it won the APS Best in Show award this year at the 2018 American Peony Society Convention, 2018 Peony 'Lavon' APS 2018 Best in Show. I love the double decker type peonies anyway, and this looks to be an excellent one! I can't wait to see how both of these Hollingsworth hybridized peonies perform for me here in my Southern garden!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

2018 Peony 'Lavon' APS 2018 Best in Show

Peony 'Lavon'
American Peony Society 2018 Best In Show
Grand Champion

When the results for the Best in Show flower were revealed after the 2018 American Peony Society Judges Select Court of Honor and Best In Show, there was quite a bit of excitement surrounding the peony that won the highest honor of the peony exhibition. The award went a home-state exhibitor, Brooks Gardens of of Brooks, Oregon. The hybridizer of the peony also happened to be at the show, Don Hollingsworth. So it was a great win for both! I decided to talk with both of them about what having Peony 'Lavon' win Best in Show meant to each of them. Here's what they said...

Don Hollingsworth Hybridizer of Peony 'Lavon'
(named after his wife Lavon)
and Kent Tretheway, Lavon's Son

Questions for Don Hollingsworth:

How did it feel to have your Peony 'Lavon' honored as the Best In Show flower at this year's APS Convention?

"I was and am pleased. While I have known for decades that peony ‘Lavon’ is capable of making a flower which could rightly be named Best in Show, this is the first time it ever happened. And I must add: this flower winning is remarkable in that it was scarcely half the size and fullness of which ‘Lavon’ is capable. And, I am not second guessing the judges in these remarks. When competent judges do their job, flower condition (freshness, crispness) and symmetry of its anatomy are key considerations and this Best of Show flower was strong among the competition on both counts."

Were you surprised to find out that it won?

"Yes, because that was the first I was aware an entry of ‘Lavon’ had even been staged. I was not tapped for the judging, and my previous partial tour of the staged entries was focused on the hybrids classes and the floral designs, taking pictures. After judging was completed, I happened to enter the room by way of the door near where the Court of Honor was staged. Yes, it was the best possible series of events for me to be not only surprised, but pleasantly so."

How does it encourage you in your hybridizing?

"It reminded me that for years I have been wishing (and trying again and again) to find pollen in current flowers of ‘Cytherea’, which is the pollen parent of ‘Lavon’, also its seven siblings and half-siblings which have earned name registration here."

Therese Sprauer of Brooks Gardens
Accepting her Best In Show Ribbon
for her Peony 'Lavon' Show Flower

Questions for Therese Sprauer:

How did it feel to have your Peony 'Lavon' honored as the Best In Show flower at this year's APS Convention?

"Thank you for asking - it's always a thrill to compete. I really like encouraging others to do the same. I often hear how some growers and gardeners feel intimidated by such huge competition and I hope to encourage all gardeners and growers to bring even a few flowers to enter."

"I was thrilled and honored to learn 'Lavon' was awarded Best in Show/Grand Champion at the 2018 American Peony Society floral exhibit. With such strong competition, it is an absolute joy to learn one of your entries dazzled at the right moment. To share the victory with Don Hollingsworth, the hybridizer, made it even sweeter!"

"A huge thank you to the APS; the many volunteers who tagged and placed entries; and, to our Brooks Gardens team, whose work on the farm allowed me time to select, cut and store peony buds for entry."

Were you surprised to find out that it won?

"The day before the exhibit, I was in the field telling my flower cutter, Rita, that she could now cut any flowers for bouquets, as I was done gathering buds for competition. I then literally snatched two flowers out of her hand and said " Except I will take these two 'Lavon's' to enter in competition tomorrow - they look perfect." I was in a bit of disbelief when I heard that it was, in fact, a 'Lavon' that won - one of the last entries placed on the tables."

How does it encourage you in your peony growing and exhibitions?

"To see a showroom filled with hundreds of beautiful peonies is breathtaking and rewarding to all participants and visitors. I encourage all peony growers and gardeners to participate in the APS floral exhibit. No matter the level of excitement or anxiety one experiences along the way from field to exhibit table, I remind myself and others, 'it only takes one flower'. That's important to remember when you see hundreds, or even thousands of flowers brought in to the prep areas for entry selection. Bring your flowers next year and join in the fun!"

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

2018 American Peony Society Judges Select Court of Honor and Best In Show

APS Judges Select Grand Champion / Best In Show

American Peony Society 2018 Court of Honor

After what probably seems like forever for all of the APS Members and members of the public patiently waiting outside the Exhibition room, the judges finalize their class decisions, everything is recorded, and the final judging to select the American Peony Society 2018 Exhibition Court of Honor is completed. All of the hard work from all of the show participants, volunteers, and Exhibition Co-Chairs - the transportation of flowers to the show, the prepping and tagging of peony specimens, the classifying of flowers, the judging of each class, the recording of awardees, and the placement of ribbons - is finally realized, resulting in the Court of Honor. The whole thing is like a symphony with the Exhibition Co-Chairs, David and Linette, serving as the conductors. The exhibitors, volunteers, and judges are the musicians who carefully play their instruments, the peonies. The Exhibition Chairs skillfully conduct this floral symphony, which each phase of the exhibition carefully played as if a movement in a sonata. When the flower show opens, we have reached the finale! The doors of the Exhibition Room are thrown open, and everyone is invited inside to find out who's won, to see what curious new peonies on the entry tables pique their interest, and chat with all of the fellow peony enthusiasts about our favorite flower!

Photo Collage
American Peony Society 2018
Reserve Champion, Grand Champion, Best Novice

Peony 'Pastelegance'
Best White / Blush / Yellow Hybrid
Peony 'Theresa Ann'
Best Pink Lutea Hybrd
Peony 'Sonoma YeDo'
Best Intersectional
Best Yellow / Yellow Blend Intersectional
Peony 'Marchioness'
Best Yellow Lutea Hybrid
Peony 'Kansas'
Best Red Lactiflora
Peony 'Bowl of Cream'
Best White Lactiflora
Peony 'Class Act'
Best Blush Lactiflora
Peony 'Angel Choir'
Best White Suffruticosa
Peony 'Ezra Pound'
Best Pink Suffruticosa
Peony 'Raspberry Charm'
Best Pink / Coral Hybrid
Peony 'Old Faithful'
Reserve Champion
Best Red Hybrid
Peony 'Lavon'
Best In Show
Grand Champion
Best Pink Lactiflora
Peony 'Boreas'
Best Novice
Best Red Lutea Hybrid

Monday, June 18, 2018

2018 American Peony Society Convention Flower Exhibition Show Prep

Richard and Anna with their Tree Peonies
American Peony Society Exhibition Flower Show Prep

Leon, Lore, Cory, and Jeff
American Peony Society Exhibition Flower Show Prep

and Steve Filling Bottles with Water
American Peony Society Exhibition Flower Show Prep

As soon as people finish their second day of bus tours on Friday afternoon, what happens next? Everyone who's entering flowers in the show (and lots of volunteers aka APS Members) are prepping the peony flowers for the annual American Peony Society Flower Exhibition. People are checking their flowers to make sure they are opening (or not opening) (or opening too much)! Everyone is checking flower forms and color against the dizzying number of potential peony exhibition classes that can be entered. People are filling bottles with water for the exhibits. People are selecting, grooming, and placing flowers into bottles to be exhibited. People are filling out entry tags for each individual entry with the exhibitor, division, class and variety name. People are running the finished entries from the prep room to the exhibition room and placing them in their marked exhibition category. Everyone's goal is to get as many flowers into the show before the exhibition chairs make the call to close the exhibition room. The exhibition chairs must allow enough time for judging to take place. So the exhibition room must be closed to additional entries prior to the show opening. The flower show is an exciting time for exhibitors hoping to win ribbons, and the American Peony Society's best opportunity to showcase the king of flowers, the peony, to the public.

David, Jill, and Carol Prepping Flowers
American Peony Society Exhibition Flower Show Prep

Lore, Jim, and Linette, APS Exhibition Co-Chair
American Peony Society Exhibition Flower Show Prep

David, APS Exhibition Co-Chair
American Peony Society Exhibition Flower Show Prep

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

2018 American Peony Society Tours Portland Rose Garden

The next and last stop on the American Peony Society 2018 Convention Tour was the Portland Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon. While there were some roses blooming, I wasn't as impressed with the rose garden as I'd expected. Maybe it was because we were just before their peak bloom season. So most of their roses weren't open yet. Or maybe it was because I thought the garden would be larger than it was. Or maybe it was because the tour we were on was guided, and we didn't get to see the whole thing, only the parts our tour guide took us too. Our tour guide was very nice and seemed quite knowledgeable about the garden. She told us about how they kept a garden of every rose that won the Rose Society's yearly award. She told us about how they had a Rose Festival every year, and there was a Rose Queen crowned each year, a young lady who is judged on intellect and contribution to society instead of her physical appearance.

Yellow Rose

Our tour guide also told us about their spray programs at the rose garden - both insecticides and fungicides to keep the bugs and rose diseases at bay. It was all quite informative, but I do much prefer peonies to roses. Even though peonies' bloom season is much shorter than roses, they do not require all of those chemicals to keep them looking nice and pest free. I think I'd like to visit Portland Rose Garden again sometime in the future during their peak bloom season to see more of the roses in bloom and have a chance to explore the garden in whole on my own, at my leisure. It seemed like a nice place to visit, a public park that anyone can go to visit at any time for free. What a nice benefit for the citizens of Portland. I was also told that many marriage proposals and weddings happen in the Portland Rose Garden as well. How lovely!

Purple Roses

Please Note: The rose photos included in this article are actually ones I took during the 2018 American Peony Society Convention Sebright Gardens Tour. I forgot my camera (and phone!) on the tour bus during the Rose Garden Tour. So I wasn't able to capture any photos at the Portland Rose Garden.

Friday, June 8, 2018

2018 Fina Gardens Order Peony 'Nice Gal' and Peony 'Super Gal'

2018 Fina Gardens Order

The first peony order I'm placing after returning from the 2018 American Peony Society Convention in Portland, Oregon is with Fina Gardens for Peony 'Nice Gal' and Peony 'Super Gal'. No, Fina Gardens wasn't on the APS Convention Tour, (they're in Wisconsin, not Oregon) but they do have peony I saw on the tour, plus another similarly named one I'd seen on a previous APS Convention Tour. I just saw the Peony 'Super Gal' during the 2018 American Peony Society Tours Oregon Perennial Company. This peony was growing in Piet's personal garden right next to his home, and I really loved it. The photo below is one I took in his garden during the tour. Gorgeous, right?

Peony 'Super Gal'
2018 American Peony Society Oregon Perennial Company Tour

It reminded me of the Peony 'Nice Gal' that I had seen in Kentucky during the 2015 American Peony Society Whitehall Mansion Tour. According the the APS Cultivar Registry, Peony 'Nice Gal' was hybridized by Krekler and registered in 1965. Peony 'Terrific Gal' and Peony 'Super Gal' are both hybridized by Klehm and were registered in 1995 and 2000, respectively. I'm wondering if Peony 'Nice Gal' was one of the parents in the Klehm hybrids, since the APS registrations don't reveal that detail. Moreover, it seems that Peony 'Nice Gal' and Peony 'Super Gal' seem to be my favorites out of the bunch. So I was happy to be able to place an order with Fina Gardens for both of these "gals" at the same time. Also I don't think I've ever placed an order with Fina Gardens before. So this will be a good opportunity to evaluate their goods.

Peony 'Nice Gal'
2015 American Peony Society Whitehall Mansion Tour

Thursday, June 7, 2018

2018 American Peony Society Dines at McMenamins Cornelious Pass Roadhouse

Imbrie Hall
McMenamins Cornelious Pass Roadhouse
American Peony Society 2018 Convention Tour

McMenamins Cornelious Pass Roadhouse Sign

During our second tour day of the American Peony Society annual convention, almost two weeks ago now, we dined at McMenamins Cornelious Pass Roadhouse in Hillsboro, Oregon for lunch. The food was delicious and very fresh! We dined on make your own tacos or nachos with all of the toppings - sauteed beef or chicken with peppers and onions, rice, beans, cheeses, salsa, guacamole, pico de gallo, and sour cream. Since our group was so large, we had a large party tent and several tables set up right behind it in the grass too. I ate outside the tent in the garden, and it was the perfect day to do so. The food was delicious, and there were several drink selections as well. They had a bar set up inside the tent where you could purchase local Oregon-made brews and wines to go with your meal. There was also lemonade, water and tea set up for self service.

Garden Party Tent
McMenamins Cornelious Pass Roadhouse

Lemonade, Tea, Water
McMenamins Cornelious Pass Roadhouse

Fresh Mexican Buffet
McMenamins Cornelious Pass Roadhouse

All of the APS Members seemed to enjoy themselves at the lunch in the beautiful surroundings. I just wished I'd had a little bit more time to explore the gardens and the historic farmhouse from the 1840s on the property, which is now known as Imbrie Hall (named after the original owners of the property). Apparently the McMenamins like to purchase historic properties and turn them into dining and event venues. It is their way of helping to preserve them for future generations and making them available for the community's enjoyment - what a novel idea. After lunch Lore, the 2018 APS Convention Chair, talked with everyone about the Portland Rose Garden and options for exploring the other connecting Portland parks if you wanted to stay at the park longer than the tour buses would be there. All in all McMenamins provided a nice respite and a tasty lunch!

APS Members Chatting After Lunch
McMenamins Cornelious Pass Roadhouse

Lore Explaining Afternoon Tour Options
McMenamins Cornelious Pass Roadhouse

Red Container Planting
McMenamins Cornelious Pass Roadhouse

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

2018 American Peony Society Tours Flora Wonder Arboretum

Potted Evergreens and Succulents
Flora Wonder Arboretum
American Peony Society 2018 Convention Tour

When we first got off the bus at the Flora Wonder Arboretum and Buchholz & Buchholz Nursery, I wasn't really impressed (maybe because there weren't any peonies in sight), but as we started to walk around and discover so many beautiful and interesting plant varieties, my appreciation began to grow. I fell for all of the potted miniature landscapes and couldn't stop taking pictures of them! They reminded me a bit of fairy gardens - without the fairies. A tiny world growing in one pot. The photos I took here are just amazing, which speaks to the talent of the amazing gardeners there. Click on any of the photos to see a much larger and detailed version!

Pumice Planters, Potted Succulents with Dead Wood
Flora Wonder Arboretum

Potted Succulents, Pumice Stones with Dead Wood Stumps
Flora Wonder Arboretum

Succulents Planted in Stone and Gravel
Flora Wonder Arboretum

I was told that this nursery is not usually open for tours, but we were somehow lucky enough to snag one. Apparently one of their specialties are something they call "Flora Wonder Pumice Planters". Many of the APS Members were wild about them, but to me they were just plants in a rock. :-P What I really liked was their use of dead wood in many of their arrangements. I just felt drawn to it, the white sun-bleached branches and stumps really caught my eye. Aside from their potted plants, there was also a large garden behind their sales office with rock-lined gravel pathways. The garden was a mix of Japanese maples, evergreens, and flowering shrubs.

Carnivorous Pitcher Plants
Flora Wonder Arboretum

Flora Wonder Arboretum Garden

Peony 'Cheddar Supreme'
Flora Wonder Arboretum

I did manage to find a couple of peonies right behind the sales office. The one that stood out the most to me, and seemed to be in a nice stage of bloom at the time was Peony 'Cheddar Supreme', which I do not grow, but may need to add to my list. However despite all of the plant loveliness, I must say that my favorite part of the Flora Wonder Arboretum tour was finding this beautiful horse after traipsing through all of the greenhouses. It was a white horse with a trace of gray, with a gray main and tail, just gorgeous, and standing in a field of yellow flowers. I whistled to him, and he turned around to look at me. After examining each other for a bit, I whistled again and he approached me. I was estaic when he came close enough for me to sweet talk him and pet him a bit. I saw he'd been eating some grass in the field. So I reached down to pick some for him, and he ate it from my hand. So endearing.

Horse in Field of Yellow Flowers
Flora Wonder Arboretum

Mike Miller and Me
Flora Wonder Arboretum

Kris Jurik, Jeff & Jennifer Harvey, Scott Parker
Flora Wonder Arboretum

The comments made by APS members while at the Flora Wonder Arboretum were all positive affirmations of amazement and wonder at what the Buchholz owners have created in their little corner of the world. If you like Japanese Maples, succulents, and/or evergreens and ever get the opportunity to take a tour, jump! There were so many varieties of Japanese maples in their greenhouses, probably more unique and different varieties than I have even seen in one location (and I've been to Japan and toured a garden with a Japanese maple collection - so that's saying something). APS Members found their fair share of "flora treasures" to take home with them while on the tour, that for many will be once in a lifetime!

APS Members with their Flora Treasures
Flora Wonder Arboretum