Friday, May 1, 2009

Peonies envy



I hate to be asked to choose a favorite flower but if someone held a gun to my head and demanded an answer, I could supply one. Roses would be my favorite and coming in second place - the peony. I love the big blowsy double types but the one pictured here is a single called "Scarlet O'Hara". I've had it for about 10 years and it always blooms faithfully. The vivid red blossoms quickly fade to pink after only a few days. This peony blooms earlier than my other peony plants, which are doubles.

Most gardeners know that peonies grow best in northern climates because they need a strong winter chill to make them happy. There are quite a few varieties though that do fine here. "Festive Maxima" and "Sarah Bernhardt" are two that come to mind.

I was visiting my mother yesterday and I noticed that the peonies I had planted there years ago were covered in buds and much happier than the ones in our garden. This is probably because hers are unhampered by neighboring plants and have full sun. That is the key to a healthy peony - plant it in a large, well-prepared hole with good rich ammendments with the "eyes" (they are easy to spot) at soil level or just an inch or so under the ground. Give it plenty of room and sun and forget about them! They don't like to be pampered or moved. And lots of people ask me about the ants that love to visit the buds. They don't harm the plants at all!

30 comments:

  1. Oh my ... aren't they lovely. I love the striking wonderful bright color. What's the color? shocking pink? Bright red? Whatever the color is, I love it. Awesome!

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  2. Blossom, the blooms are bright red when they first open and then they fade to pale pink after a few days.

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  3. Oh how I wish we could grow peonies in our climate. You are very lucky! They are beautiful!

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  4. I'm not usually a fan of singles but that is a pretty one. Sarah Bernhart and Festiva Maxima are favorites of mine too and I agree, peonies have to be ranked right up there in the top 3 or 4 most beautiful flowers. They have two downsides, a very short bloom time and they always bloom when the weather is at its worse. I've never had a peony season when they weren't damaged by heavy winds, pelting rains and sometime hail.
    Marnie

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  5. You mean there's something that grows BETTER up here than down there? OH SNAP! Peonies are hardier up here; they take a long time to recover from being divided/transplanted, but I have anything but rich soil and mine are stunning. (Well, not yet. Right now they're still very tall "fairy candles." But wait til June!)

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  6. P.S. I tend to prefer single flowers, not doubles, especially so for hollyhocks and roses... my peonies are the big double extra poofy kind (I got them from a client) and somehow I love them, too. The local Arb has an awesome peony display, as well. I'll likely post on it in June.

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  7. Marnie, you are so right about that and I should have added it to my post. The rain always messes them up and they are really bad to flop over and lay on the ground. I try to use those hoops but not very successfully.

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  8. Peonies are on my list of plants to buy. Not sure how well they will do this far south but I plan on trying

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  9. Peonies are among my favourites, too -- probably more so than roses, even. Dahlias run a close second. :)

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  10. That is one pretty peony. This is one plant I killed. Can you believe it?? I think I planted them too deep. Sigh~~

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  11. Roses are a favorite of mine too. Your peony is outstanding. Gorgeous color. Have a nice weekend and Happy Gardening... Becca

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  12. I must remember not to be drinking anything when I read your blog titles. This was the second time I nearly choked from laughter.

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  13. LOL! Love the title! :-)

    I must overcome my fear of growing peonies in my garden and get with the program. I'm the same way about dahlias. They both seem like they can only be grown by experts and collectors! You've given me some hope, here.

    Cameron

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  14. I love peonies Phillip, especially ones that have a rose fragrance. The single red peony is beautiful! I have an unnamed beauty that looks quite similar. Maybe we will miss out on the rain this year...since it's pelting us now! I see the big fat buds in the garden and they make me smile. gail

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  15. Yes, Phillip, I could be a bit envious of Ms. Scarlett. I wouldn't really have known she was a peony unless you'd mentioned it; I have 2 of the doubles, 1 pink and 1 white. I'm waiting to see if the pink will bloom this year...she didn't last year.

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  16. OK, I admit, I laughed at your post title. :)

    The only peony I currently have is Festiva Maxima and I love it. Must get more!

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  17. I love the peonies too. You forgot the most important question... how do you pronounce it??? I have heard the accent on either the first or the second syllable, and I'm not sure which is really correct.

    Thanks for posting those pics of June Mays garden too. I have wanted to go on that tour for a while, but we always have a show in Cullman that weekend.

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  18. I have one that looks just like this one. And I find if you cut them just at dawn, you get a beautiful vase full of flowers with no ants! That's cause they're still sleeping.
    And I use green plastic coated fencing to surround them. Holds them up nicely, and the leaves fill through them and the fencing disapears.

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  19. Hi Phillip! What a treat to see these beautifull blooms! I was lazy to plant my peony in the ground and he has been sitting in a pot for almost a year. To show me what he thinks of me, it produced only one single bloom. Need to find a spot for him as soon as possible!
    Thanks for your recent comment on my tulip posts.

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  20. Scarlet is just beautiful! Peonies are a personal favorite, as well. Growing up in New England, they were everywhere, so now that I'm in the south, I treasure them even more!

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  21. Peonies are beautiful! And your photo is great. You know I've always heard that peonies need sun but I guess there are always exceptions. We bought our house about 30 years ago and there was a nice big pink peony on the north side that never gets even a bit of sun. It's still blooming really well every year.
    Nice blog, funny title for this post.

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  22. Hi Phillip, I had to laugh out loud at your title! Brilliantly done. The single Scarlet is certainly the most beautiful thing ever, gun to your head or not. Your captures of her would make Ms. Margaret Mitchell blush with pride too. :-)
    Frances

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  23. That is a nice variety. Planting at the correct level is probably one of the biggest things about Peony culture. Have you tried the Tree Peonies? They are stunning.

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  24. I've been out of the loop a little since the computer crashed. The new header on your page is just exquisite! A shot most magazine editors would kill for!

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  25. Any peony would be a novelty here- haven't heard of anyone having success in Austin... but you have Scarlett O' Hara peonies...and Blue roses! The lucky people who come to your open garden day will have a wonderful time, Phillip - wish I were one of them!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

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  26. Forgot to cackle about the apt and punny title, Phillip - it might seem funnier if it weren't so true.
    I have been diagnosed with Peonies envy!

    Annie

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  27. The blooms look awesome, Phillip! You say the ants aren't harmful? Well, that's reassuring to hear, coz to me, the ants are always harmful [chuckle], really! Most of the plants I lost were because of those buggers... Grrrr....

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  28. I love them too. They do well in Oklahoma, although my Japanese anemone ones' buds froze in that late freeze. The doubles were smart and waited.~~Dee

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  29. I love your blog. You have such great photography and taste in flowers.

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  30. I know that this entry is nearly a year old, but it showed up at the bottom of your new post in 'you might like...'

    Needless to say, it caught my eye. You get Kyna's Stamp of Play on Words Approval :D

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