Thursday, June 17, 2010


PEONIES are lavish old-fashioned blooms that look delicate, but are actually very hardy.  They appear annually, even given minimum care.  In fact, I've seen peonies in abandoned gardens, still blooming reliably.  So with a good site and regular attention, you can imagine how spectacular they can be in the late spring, early summer beds.  As I've mentioned before, there are two types of peonies--herbaceous and tree peonies.  Herbaceous peonies die to the ground each year, and are the most popular and well-known.  They are from 1 1/2' - 3' tall, and are 5-8" across in size.  They bloom from late May to early June.  Tree peonies are woody, shrub-like trees that grow anywhere from 3-6'.  Their blooms can be from 6-10 inches or more across, in a texture that reminds me of crepe paper and silk.  They bloom a little earlier than herbaceous peonies.  I think that peonies make some of the most stunning additions to flower arrangements.  They keep for a long time, their foliage is dark and glossy, and their fragrance is fresh and aromatic.  Their are hundreds of cultivars to choose from, ranging in color, size, bloom time, and form.   I usually order mine from Reath's or Cricket Hill Gardens.  You can find them online.  One thing about peonies is that they are very long-lived.  Be sure you plant them in a place that can be permanent because they can live for a hundred years.  They are deep-rooted and can thrive for years without needing to be divided.  Plant in full sun, but they will also bloom, although less abundantly, in light shade for part of the day.  Plant in a spot protected from strong winds because their heavy blooms can be damaged.  Don't plant them in competition with other tree roots or shrubs.  And, don't plant the eyes too deep or they won't flower, not more than 2" below the soil surface.  I usually remove the side buds so the blooms will be bigger.  But, if you want a longer bloom season, keep them all on.  They probably will need to be staked.  Do this early in the season so the stems will grow up through the supports.  After they have flowered, cut off the spent blooms to keep the plants from expending energy on seed production.  In fall, cut their stems to the ground.  Combine them with other late-spring blooming flowers such as bleeding heart, Siberian iris, salvias, candytuft, delphinium or lupine.  I think that every flower garden needs at least a couple of these unparalleled beauties.  They are in my top 5 for favorites!
Susanne Holland Spicker Mother, Grandmother, Homemaker, Gardener, Teacher, Photographer

Passion is defined as the love of, or the object(s) of affection and emotion. I am passionate about family, friends, flowers, food, photography and fabulous music! This blog is dedicated to those loves.

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