Tuesday, August 19, 2008

It's peony time

Not bloom time of course, but time to get out your catalogs and decide which ones you want to add to your peony collection. The best time for planting or transplanting peonies is September. If you order now, you will receive your plants at about the correct time for planting.

Peonies bloom at slightly different times so it is possible to extend your season by ordering early, mid and late season bloomers. Also, watch for tall and short varieties (21" to 40") and ones described as having very sturdy stems. Just to be on the safe side, order a peony cage too. That will guarantee your plant will stand up straight and not allow the heavy blooms to fall over and be ruined. Cages also prevent dogs and kids from running over newly planted bushes.

Once planted, peonies can live for a century. They aren't happy about being moved or divided, although transplanting can usually be done successfully if you are careful about weather and planting depth. Choose a site that is well drained, amend your soil with well rotted compost, and be sure not to plant them too deep.

A word of caution. Check out Garden Watchdog before ordering from any online vendor you don't know.

I'm looking at A&D's website. They have a nice selection in the $20 to $30 range, 3-5 eyes.
Khlem Song Sparrow has a good reputation for quality plants at $20 to $50, 3- 5 eyes. Newer hybrids, I didn't see many of the old standbys. Do order their wonderful catalog!
Gilbert H. Wild and Son has peonies in the $6 to $20 price range 3-5 eyes. Mostly old fashioned and more common varieties.
(I've ordered from Khlem and Wild in the past but have never bought from A&D Nursery.)

I'm trying to decide among these:

Mons. Jules Elie a medium pink double, fragrant of course:)

Mrs. F. D. Roosevelt said to be a classic. Many very fragrant, soft pink blooms per stem. Long outer petals overlapping a rosebud center. Gold Medal winner. An early bloomer. I'm almost certain this is one I will order.

Sarah Bernhardt (A&D Nursery Photo) possibly the best known pink peony. I have one of these but would like another for a different location. Sarah is a late bloomer.
Salmon Glory(A&D Nursery Photo)
Paul Wild(A&D Nursery Photo) fragrance is harder to find in red peonies than in other colors. I really like the looks of this red.
I keep looking at Bowl of Beauty. It is an elegant peony, but the doubles or bombs are my favorites.

Sorbet is a combination of pink and cream. Very full. No mention of fragrance so I may pass on this one. (A Gilbert H. Wild photo)

I'm definitely geting this Edulis Superba, one of the most reliable. A very early dark pink with good fragrance. (Gilbert H Wild photo)

So, everybody, open your catalogs and let's decide.


Anonymous said...

What a great post Marnie! I added 'Bowl of Beauty' to my garden this spring after seeing it in bloom at our Botanic Gardens. It hasn't done anything at all this whole summer but after reading your post, I see I planted it the wrong time! Good luck deciding which to order.

tina said...

My favorite flower. I am so glad I can grow them here in Tennessee. Hard to believe it is peony time already!

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Kathleen. Your peony is probably busy making a good root system. Hope it blooms next spring. If you bought your plant already growing in a container, it doesn't matter when you plant it.

Let us know how you like Bowl of Beauty when it blooms. I'm still on the fence about the singles.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hey Tina. Gotta be one of my favorites too. Then again, I'm so fickle, I have way too many favorites.

In your Tennessee climate, you may be a month later. Maybe you plant yours in October?

tina said...

Anytime now until October or so, just no rain so no digging.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I hate to rain on your parade, but you'd better order some Peony hoops at the same time. Those old doubles are terrible floppers. I have one & even with staking, when a heavy rain hits, the stems break at the height of the hoop. I'm looking for single or Japanese-type peonies now. Of course this no double rule does not apply to Tree Peonies & Intersectional hybrids. I haven't bought an Intersectional yet, I keep hoping the price will come down.

Roses and Lilacs said...

MMD, we always have a bad storm at peony time. Any peonies not contained in cages fall into the mud. I have all mine caged. So far so good, the tall cages hold them up and they don't break (fingers crossed for future luck). I keep cages up year round to prevent the dogs from short cutting across the plants.

Daisy said...

I definitely need some cages... mine aren't doubles, but they flop alot. That usually makes me feel good about cutting them and enjoying them in a vase outdoors, but I never end up cutting all the ones that hit the ground - cages would still be good.

They were the one beautiful part of my yard when I moved in. I didn't put them in myself, but I always thought about adding some and never got around to it. Good to know that now's the time!

Dog_geek said...

Thanks for posting the Garden Watchdog site - it looks like a great resource!

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Daisy. I know, the blooms are so perfect it's a shame when they flop over. Sometimes cages are hard to find. My local garden center carries nice ones.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hey Dog Geek, Garden Watchdog is a good site. You hear a lot of stories about internet vendors ripping off people or sending pool quality merchandise.

Gail said...

Thanks for the reminder, I always remember to order too late! I love peonies with fragrance...that would be up there with color in my decision making! I look forward to your post on the choices!


Rose said...

Great post for advice on peonies, Marnie. I don't have any and would like some, but I'm going to wait until I can decide exactly where I would put them. You've picked out some beautiful ones!

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Rose, good idea since they don't really like to be moved.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Gail, I agree with you. Fragrance rates right up their with beauty. Aroma therapy;) I love both the sight and scent of bowl of peonies on my desk at work.

Mary said...

I have always wanted to have a whole avenue of peonies, backed by Siberian iris and then apple trees. Wouldn't that look marvelous? Good luck with your order!

Kim said...

Hi Marnie, Peonies are among my favourites :)

I have a little something for you at my blog, when you have a chance to drop by.

Kim x

Barbee' said...

Marnie, I don't get over to your blog as often as I would like (or to anyone's), but here I am today. I love the dogs, cats, and your flowers and photography are outstanding, but of course you already knew that. What I wanted to leave is off the subject: If you have never read Annie Dillard's book Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, I think you would enjoy it. I may be mistaken, but after reading your profile it is just a hunch.

Connie said...

Marnie, thanks for stopping by conniescapers.blogspot.com.

These pictures are beautiful. I've never been a "peony person", but they're gorgeous - I just might have to try.

Catalogs...don't you just love them!


Roses and Lilacs said...

Oh, Mary, you're describing a dreamscape. I can imagine it along my drive.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Barbee, I popped over to amazon.com check out Annie Dillard's book. Thank you so much for the recommendation. It sounds very interesting.

Thank you for the compliment, I am learning to take better photographs. Seeing the photos on other blogs is very helpful--I've learned a lot.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Kim, thank you for thinking of me. I'm always inspired when I visit your site. Your meditation routine sounds wonderful. I wish I could let go and just spend a half hour relaxing and letting random thoughts flow. I'm working on it.

Catherine said...

Your peonies are beautiful!! Something not in my garden, that I've been thinking about trying~ I've also thought about a peony tree~do you grow those as well...?
Beautiful post~beautiful captures! And great info! They are like old fashioned flowers~look very much like roses, the Bowl of Beauty is stunning, I can see how beautiful they would be floating in a bowl too! :)
Enjoy your day!

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Connie, yes catalogs are what get me through northern Illinois winters:)

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Catherine. I have never had a tree peony. They are beautiful. People who have them love them.

You might enjoy having either the herbaceous or the tree varieties. Especially if you love strongly scented plants. Peonies are pretty much minimal care. Bugs, bunnies and deer don't bother them and they are drought tolerant. They never need division and cutting to the ground every winter is all the pruning required.

CIELO said...

I planted some peonies last year and thus far I only see a very small and unthriving plant coming up from the ground... how long would it take for peonies to grow???? any idea??? :)


Anonymous said...

I am glad that you paid me a visit because I had no idea I had to plant peonies in September. I want to plant some more next to my lonely one. Thank you for the information and beautiful pictures. By the way Ivan is beautiful.

EcoRover said...

Nice pics, incredible array of peonies. I've mostly been posting wildflower pics, but you're inspiring me to post what's been happening around the yard all summer.


PS: we moved some peonies around our yard three years ago, and while the leaves looked pretty good this year, no blooms as yet.

Sherri said...

I love peonies!! I had alot of them when I lived in northwestern NJ. I only have 1 tree peony here in Charlotte. When I move I'm going to make sure I plant more!

Kerri said...

Goodness, how do you choose between all those beauties? I love them all! Mine are all passalongs, and not named, but I think my huge pink double is Sarah Bernhardt. My deeper red, smaller bloom is the most fragrant of all.
I've had good luck moving mine in late summer of early fall.
I love that wren photo :) What a capture! Thanks for the chuckle.
Your garden is gorgeous. Love those clematis colors, and your lilies are fabulous.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Marnie,
Maybe we'll finally spring for the tree peony this fall, because we have it picked out, but have yet to ante up on the price. It may still happen, because we put all our herbaceous peonies in in late June (once the flooding went away). For fragrance lovers I'd say go for 'Sarah Bernhardt,' because we have several and they are wonderfully fragrant.

We've already planted (because we got them at bargain prices of about $5 per plant) 3 'Karl Rosenfeld,' another 'Sarah' and one 'Duchesse De Nemours' (white).

With what we had already, I think we're in good shape for peony times next spring....

Then there's that tree peony we still keep discussing ...

Roses and Lilacs said...

IVG, you got a really good bargain at $5.

I've looked at the tree peonies more than once, I just don't have the right place for one. I've even seen yellow ones lately. If you decide to try one, I hope you'll post about it.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Kerri, thank you. There were 4 peonies here when I moved in. That was a good start.

Passalongs are usually the old fashioned ones that have been favorites for years are are very reliable.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Sherri, how do you like your tree peony? Do your get a lot of blooms each season?

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Ecorover, they say the two most common reasons for lack of bloom are 1. too much shade and 2. the eyes are planted too deep. If you don't get bloom in the spring, I would lift the plant up a little so the crown is at the soil surface. I know it is frustrating to have a plant taking up space and not blooming. Good luck.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Blondie. I've seen whites, and reds planted together so the stems and blooms kind of overlap. Really nice effect.

Oh, Ivan says thanks;)

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Cielo, the first year they usually concentrate on developing a good root system. You don't see a lot of growth in stems and branches. The next year they should start to show some top growth and probably bloom the second spring.

People tend to plant peonies too deeply, perhaps that's your problem. They want their crown at soil level.
Good luck.

Cordwood Cabin said...

Love the post on peonies! The pictures are beautiful! And yes, you're right -- a Lizzie Borden doll would be perfect. I've toyed with the idea of making one, but I've been waiting, sort of putting some distance between myself and Joyce Stahl's excellent Lizzie piece.

Thanks also for your compliments about Mouse-the-kitty -- she loves attention and loves being told she's adorable. Quite the camera hog with such an uncanny ability to look into the lense and make eye contact.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi CC, Mouse the Kitty must have a similar temperament to Toby the Terrible Tabby. He's been told too many times he's wonderful. He completely believes it.

I looked at the site you mentioned, Joyce Stahl. She did a good job. Not everyone would appreciate a doll of the notorious Lizzy. There is probably some politically correct rule against it:)

Mary said...

Those are wonderful! Peonies are one of my favorite flowers and the state flower for Indiana where I live. I wish I had more of them and wish I could get up the nerve to split the ones that I have...I know they need it.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Mary, peonies are one of my favorites too. Don't worry about dividing the ones you have. They actually resent division and live for centuries without it. You can usually cut off a portion of an established clump and transplant successfully but it is up to you.