Thursday, June 30, 2022

2022 American Peony Society Convention Exhibition Flower Show Court of Honor

2022 American Peony Society Convention Exhibition Flower Show
Court of Honor

The American Peony Society Convention Exhibition Court of Honor was a bit smaller this year, perhaps due to the smaller size of the show overall. Being a smaller show, it fit the venue (the Univeristy of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Garden Auditorium) well and was a good step after a 2 year hiatus due to public health concerns. Peony 'Pastelegance' was the Best in Show flower this year, a repeat on the Best in Show list after first winning Best in Show in 2016. This is a happy coincidence, as Peony 'Pastelegance' is also the APS Gold Medal winner for 2022 as well!

2022 American Peony Society Grand Champion
Peony 'Pastelegance'

Congratulations to all of the exibitors on the APS Court of Honor!

2022 Novice Best Specimen
Peony 'Waucedah Princess'

2022 APS Reserve Champion
Intersectional Peony 'Sonoma Halo'

Best Blush Lactiflora
Peony 'Mrs. J. H. Neely'

Best White Wood Peony
Peony 'Koshina-yuki'

Best Species
Peony 'Anemonefolia Rosea'

Best Yellow Blend Woody Peony
Peony 'Jack's Point'

Best Maroon Woody Peony
Peony 'Maria Teresa'

Best White Lactiflora
Peony 'Henry Sass'

Best Pink Woody Peony
Peony 'Elemental'

Best Pink Lactiflora
Peony 'Monsieur Jules Elie'

Best Red Hybrid
Peony 'Commando'

Best Pink Hybrid
Peony 'Nosegay'

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

2022 American Peony Society Convention Flow Show Prep

The 2022 American Peony Society Convention isn't possible without the help of so many entrants and volunteers. Before the show opens to the public, APS members are busy as bees, hard at work creating the beautiful flow show the public sees. Flowers are selected for showing, stems trimmed, put into exhibition bottles with water, groomed for the show, tagged with variety and entrant, and then categorized into their show categories for judging.

American Peony Society Convention Prep

This year the APS Exhibition Committee made a change to have all entries submitted by Friday afternoon at 4pm. That way the judges could judge the flower show on Friday evening and have the show ready for the public first thing Saturday morning. Previously flowers were due by Saturday morning, while the judges tried to judge quickly late Saturday morning, often times delaying the opening of the show. I thought this change was wonderful for the show, although I did miss the time on Friday for group APS activities.

APS Novice Design Entries

Often times after entrants have selected the flowers they do want to show, they have leftover flowers that are not deemed to be "show quality". Usually those stems are made available for flower arranging. While a single stem may not be the perfect shape/quality for a ribbon on the exhibition floor, it can still be a valuable addition for a floral arrangement entry. I have entered the floral design categories a couple of times before. This year I had my Mom with me, and I got her to create a few designs as well. I entered four designs, and she entered three. It was a lot of work, but also a lot of fun!!

Sunday, June 5, 2022

2022 American Peony Society Convention

It was as lovely to see the people as it was the flowers at the 2022 American Peony Society convention this year. I will say that David Michener's dream finally came true, culminating in the 100th Anniversary celebration of the historic peony garden collection growing at the University of Michigan's Nichols Arboretum, comingling with the American Peony Society's annual convention. After not having a convention for 2 years, it was nice to be back in person.

2022 American Peony Society Convention
University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Garden

The convention started in the usual way with the welcome picnic, and of course the stalwart and ever-present peony show was held. The rest was a little different than usual. We joined a ticketed private garden tour with other members of the public. The University of Michigan's Nichols Arboretum and Matthaei Botanical Garden were available to tour at your leisure. All of these places were nice to tour, but it did make it a little hard to chat with other APS members during the tours/outings. Luckily I was able to tag along with a few other APS members for the garden tour, which definitely made the day much more enjoyable. Hopefully the APS will bring back the bus tours next year, as they really do make it so much easier to chat with old and new APS members.

All in all, I am so very grateful to have been able to attend the convention (with my Mom as well)! I just hope that all is calm and the convention is able to be held again next year!

Sunday, May 8, 2022

2022 Happy Mother's Day with Peonies!!

Southern Peony Mother's Day Bouquet

Mother's Day! What better day to celebrate our Moms (and those of us that are Moms) than with a vase full of beautiful peonies? I can't imagine a better gift!! This year I have actually been cutting more peonies than I usually do. Most of the time, I want to keep them in my garden so I have something beautiful to look at when I walk around outside.

Southern Peony Mother's Day Bouquet
Peony 'Paul M. Wild' (top)
Peony 'Vivid Rose' (left)     Peony 'Douglas Brand' (right)
Peony 'Dinner Plate' (bottom)

This year I decided I need to cut any peonies that start to fall over (instead of staking them up). Wow, was that a great idea!! I have had bouquets for weeks in my office now, and the scent is just heavenly. The peonies perfume the whole room! Whenever I leave the room and come back to it, I can smell their sweet scent that just makes me want to float!

Southern Peony Mother's Day Bouquet

So of course today I had to surprise my Mom with a bouquet of beautiful peony posies, filled with love, grown by the person she grew. First I want to wish all of the Mothers out there a VERY HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY! (as I know first hand how much work goes into being a Mom). I also hope that each of you takes time to remember your own Mom and give thanks for the magic and beauty of life on this very special day!

Happy Mother's Day! 💗

Southern Peony Mother's Day Bouquet & Card

Saturday, May 7, 2022

2022 Planting Intersectional Peony 'Belle Toulousaine'

From my order of 2022 Spring Hill Nursery Sells 2 New Intersectionals - Peony 'Belle Toulousaine' & Peony 'Symphone Pourpre', one of the peonies arrived a couple of weeks ago, Peony 'Belle Toulousaine'. The other one did not come, as I got an out of stock notice for it, which was a bit disappointing, but I am grateful that one of them arrived at least (and from the photos, it looks like it might be the prettier one!)

Box from Spring Hill Nursery
with Intersectional Peony 'Belle Toulousaine'

Bagged Intersectional Peony 'Belle Toulousaine'

The plant was nicely boxed with breathing holes to prevent it from overheating. Inside the box, the plant was bagged, which surprised me, as the intersectional peonies that I've ordered from Spring Hill Nursery have usually been potted in previous years, 2019 Spring Hill Nursery Peony Order Arrives and 2020 Intersectional Peony 'Duchesse de Lorraine' Arrives from Spring Hill Nursery. However upon opening the bag, I could tell that this plant had recently been potted.

Unbagged Intersectional Peony 'Belle Toulousaine'

Intersectional Peony 'Belle Toulousaine' Roots and Stems

The roots were still in the shape of the pot it had been in. It looked as if this plant had been growing in a pot for quite some time, and it was removed from its pot and sealed in this bag just before shipping. I guess it saves them money on pots. Perhaps they will reuse them, which is fine with me, as I will just recycle the pot anyway. As long as the plant grows just as well, I suppose it doesn't matter. The bag also had some information about the peony printed on it:

Paeonia itoh 'rtpiv789-06

Light: Full sun to partial shade      Height: 36-40"
Depth: Crown 1-2" below soil line      Spacing: 4'

Intersectional Peony 'Belle Toulousaine' Bag Info

Planting Intersectional Peony 'Belle Toulousaine'

After I got it unbagged, I planted it right away. I dug a nice hole, added some organic flower fertilizer to the hole, and mixed it in. After I got the peony into the hole, I added part of the dirt around it. Then I added water to the planting hole. Adding water to the bottom of the hole will help the plant and roots retain some moisture deeper into the ground, which will help your new plant get a good start! Always remember to put water into the hole before you put all of the soil back!

Planting Intersectional Peony 'Belle Toulousaine'

Planting Intersectional Peony 'Belle Toulousaine'
Add Water to the Planting Hole

After the roots and surrounding dirt were thouroughly soaked, I added more dirt to the hole, then I added more water. Making sure to give your plant a good drink when it is first introduced to its new home is essential. As you can see on the first watering, the roots were still exposed, and on the second watering only the foliage was exposed. Then when I added the final layer of dirt, all of the peony was covered except the tip of one of the tiny foliage shoots (the other shoot was just barely under the dirt).

Planting Intersectional Peony 'Belle Toulousaine'
Add More Dirt to the Planting Hole

Planting Intersectional Peony 'Belle Toulousaine'
Add Even More Water to the Planting Hole

Planting Intersectional Peony 'Belle Toulousaine'
Add Even More Dirt to the Planting Hole

Now that my Intersectional Peony 'Belle Toulousaine' is fully planted, I can't wait to see how it grows (and blooms)!! It might still be a couple of years before I get a bloom on this one. It definitely won't bloom this year, and the plant may still be too small next year as well. The peony needs to reach a critical mass size to bloom. This can really depend on the peony variety (and it's growing conditions of course), but I'm sure it will be worth the wait! Come on, grow, grow! :-)

Planting Intersectional Peony 'Belle Toulousaine'

Friday, May 6, 2022

2022 Southern Peony Bloom Season

I must say this has been one of the weirdest bloom seasons I've seen in a while, and I am learning to be grateful for what and however Mother Nature decides to unfold herself...

2022 Southern Peony Bloom Season

Our early season hebaceous peonies and tree peonies experienced a late frost, which did abort several in process bloom buds, even large ones, which was quite dissappointing.

Although our drought levels here in my county are considered normal, No Drought, some counties directly to our east are in Abnormally Dry, Moderate Drought, and Severe Drought conditions. I would say that it does seem a bit drier here than usual this spring, which I feel like has decreased the number of above ground stems the peonies have decided to send up. This dryness has also however prevented almost all botrytyis blight - which is a good thing!

2022 Southern Peony Bloom Season

We've gotten a couple of heavy rains after extended dry periods, which seemed to spur a few peonies into sending up a late stem or two. On some of these late stems, we got some blooms that opened on plants long after all of their other buds were completely finished blooming.

The late freeze we experienced aborted many main buds on plants, leaving some side buds undamaged. The absence of the aborted main buds and subsequent development of these side buds really impacted the initial bloom dates of these peonies. The remaining side buds bloomed much later than the normal bloom date for these peonies, causing a mixup of bloom dates with peonies all around the spectrum. This main bud damage was noted in all 3 forms of peonies - tree peonies, herbaceous peonies, and intersectional peonies.

2022 Southern Peony Bloom Season

We've also experienced some interesting temperatures as well. The beginning of the season started out with mild/normal temperatures. The middle of the peony bloom season was very hot, a couple of weeks of 80 degree temperatures, which really shrivels blooms quickly! The end of the peony bloom season seems to be leveling out in temperatures again, back to the mild/normal pattern, with temperatures back in the 70s most days, which is gorgeous weather here for this time of year!!

This lowering of temperatures at the tail end of our peony season has really made it nice for the mainstay and late herbaceous peonies. I can't wait to continue to see how they unfold! I hope your peony bloom season is going well, no matter your location, and don't forget to stop and smell the peonies!

Saturday, April 30, 2022

2022 Peony 'Tropicana' Southern Peony Best Performer - Week 3

Peony 'Tropicana'
Southern Peony Best Performer

I have excitedly been watching this Peony 'Tropicana' grow and grow steadily over the past couple years. Each year it gets larger with more blooms. It's growth habit really reminds me of Peony 'Coral Charm', but the flowers are brighter and deeper coral. The flower petals have even thicker substance, and the blooms last much longer. The foliage is not quite as sparse and a nicer color of green.

Peony 'Tropicana'
Southern Peony Best Performer

This peony usually has one bloom per stem, but it can have multiple on a stem. However each of these blooms is just so gorgeous, they pretty much need a stem to themselves!! Peony 'Tropicana' also seems to be pretty resistant to late frosts. We had a pretty bad late frost this year, and I lost a lot of main buds on many early, and early-mid peony varieties. However Peony 'Tropicana' appeared to be unscathed after the frost.

Peony 'Tropicana'
Southern Peony Best Performer

This peony also just grows and multiplies so well. It just seems to shrug off our hot, dry, long summers and just keeps on growing year after year - so tough - perfect for our Southern climate! This peony was also hit pretty bad with lawn herbicides one year by my lawn company (who is no longer allowed to spray in my back yard). It was so mangled up and twisted, I thought it might die, but this plant was so strong it fought its way back and it's even bigger and taller now than it was then!

Peony 'Tropicana'
Southern Peony Best Performer

Peony 'Tropicana' was hybridized by Jack Nordick and registered in 2012. So this is actually a more recent herbaceous peony introduction, and one definitely worth adding to your collection! The flowers seem to last longer than the other coral colored herbaceous peonies. These blooms fade as they age as well, as you can see I even captured one of them in a gorgeous ombre color-changing state - so gorgeous!! The blooms eventually fade to a pale pink edged cream. So you can enjoy a multitude of looks from these gorgeous peony blooms!

Peony 'Tropicana'
Southern Peony Best Performer

If you're looking for a place to snag one of these gorgeous gems, Peony 'Tropicana' was not only featured in our list, it also happened to be the "cover flower" this year for our 2022 Herbaceous Hot 100 Peony Catalog Price Comparison List. There seem to be a couple of growers selling it in the $50-$60 price range this year, which is pretty reasonable, I think!

Peony 'Tropicana'
Southern Peony Best Performer

Friday, April 29, 2022

2022 First Bloom on Intersectional Peony 'Haleigh's Hallelujah'!!

I was excited to see what the first would look like on Intersectional Peony 'Haleigh's Hallelujah'. This first bloom on the plant actually opened about 2 weeks ago (on 4/14). I think it bloomed a bit ahead of normal, most likely to having been grown in a green house or perhaps a warmer climate, (but my guess is a greenhouse). It was an overcast day when I took this photo, so it's not quite as sunny and bright as most of my usual photos, but the flower does look quite nice.

Intersectional Peony 'Haleigh's Hallelujah'
First Bloom to Open 4/14

I can't say that the color is anything special, as it does seem to be in the same pink to yellow color family as the majority of other intersectional peonies. However it's most unique feature seems to be the picotee edging, which is quite unique! The blooms keep their picotee edge as the flower changes color as well (as it ages). I must say I don't have another peony quite like it. It does kind of remind me of Intersectional Peony 'Berry Garcia', (which I like a LOT), with a lot more petals and deeper colors.

Intersectional Peony 'Haleigh's Hallelujah'
First Bloom to Open 4/15

The flowers do seem to be quite full of petals, a nice full semi-double form to me. The petals open with a combination of pink cream, and seem to change to a pale pink edge changing over to light yellow. The picotee edge is not harsh and seems to fade into the other color, with an almost ombre like effect. I do like it, and am very glad I purchased it when I saw it, 2022 Intersectional Peony 'Haleigh's Hallelujah' at Local Nursery!

Intersectional Peony 'Haleigh's Hallelujah' Sign

Sunday, April 24, 2022

2022 Southern Peony Easter Egg Hunt

Southern Peony Easter Egg Hunt

I am once again reminded of how the simple things in life can be so meaningful. Being able to gather with friends and family, something we all took for granted not so long ago, was not an option for many during the global pandemic. I am so grateful that we are once again able to share a tasty meal, celebrate a spring holiday, and watch the children run and play in the garden amongst the flowers.

Southern Peony Easter Egg Hunt

These photos are from last Sunday, and I am not sure why I couldn't get an in focus photo of my little boy. Maybe he was too excited to find the eggs and running too fast for the camera. The peonies and irises were definitely putting on a colorful show. Not everything is in bloom yet, but many of the earlier peony varieties had flowers, and a few of the intersectional peonies were starting to open too.

Southern Peony Easter Egg Hunt

I think everyone had a good time, with plenty of eggs (and candy) to go around. This year we also threw some Easter Eggs into the lawn, just to watch the kids race to the eggs. :-D I also found 3 more unfound eggs out in the garden this weekend (a week later). So the kids didn't find them all. I bet I haven't found them all yet either! We were definitely blessed to be able to share Easter with my granparents, parents, brother's family, and friends. I hope each one of you had a nice Easter as well, and you found a little time to spend out in the flower garden!

Southern Peony Easter Egg Hunt