Friday, February 8, 2013

Top Perennials Part 4 (of many)

Gorgeous showsy, blowsy peonies.
When I first saw peonies as a teenager, I mistook them for roses.
You either love peonies or you don't.
I adore them.

When we first moved here 25 years ago, a friend's Dad brought me my first peonies along with other wonderful garden donations. He told me not to plant the peonies too deep and to give them support from heavy rain.
I have moved them several times and have supplemented the original 3 or 4 with many others. But my favourites of the ones he gave me are the deepest fuschia - I have never seen such a colour in anyone else's garden. He passed away long ago and I doubt he ever knew the names of the ones he gave me. Therefore I am sorry - I cannot tell you the names either.

So I just take care of them, fertilize them each year, chop out pieces for friends who ask and wire them up, to protect against wind and rain.

My latest location for them is all around the deck. Some years they barely reach the top of the deck - other years they rise a foot above the edge.

They get full sun all day so perhaps that's why they are so "happy".

Canadian Gardening magazine says: "Peonies are large, plentiful and easy to grow, many have sweetly fragrant flowers and are deer-resistant, drought-resistant and cast-iron hardy".
So true!

Why do peonies attract ants?
They don't actually help a peony open up (that's a myth). Ants are just attracted to the nectar from the peony buds as they open. To avoid bringing a lot of ants into the house when you cut the peonies for a vase, just dunk them upside down in a bucketful of water for 5 minutes after cutting. The ants will float out. Give the flowers a shake, bring them in and enjoy!

Peonies are best divided and re-planted in the fall. They love rich soil but also do very well in clay. They can take a bit of shade but do best in full sun.


Indie said...

I absolutely love peonies! They are so gorgeous! They are a little harder to grow down south. It is great to hear that they are fairly easy to grow - I am excited to try growing them when I move further up north!

Astrid said...

Hi Indie
June is a wonderful month in my garden because most plants are in bloom, especially the peonies. I know you will miss certain plants that grew for you in the south but you can experiment with lots of new ones, including peonies, when you get to Boston. I look fwd to seeing what your new garden looks like!

HELENE said...

I adore paeonies! I have a large clump of pale pink paeonies that was here when I moved in, so they are probably very old, might be more than 30 years old. They get very tall and I have to stake each flower individually or else they will grow horizontal or even bend down to the ground again.

I moved the clump 7 years ago, to a better position in full sun. It sulked for 4 years with no flowers but now there's lots of flowers again every year.

Loved your dark pink paeonies, I would have had many more if I had space for them!

Astrid said...

Hi Helene
You may find that your "sulky" peonies will turn Happy now that they get more sun. You may not have to stake them either. Your garden may be small but you certainly have gorgeous specimens within it.
Take care.

KL said...

I also love peonies,especially their fragrance. How do you wire them up? It would be helpful to know.

Astrid said...

Welcome KL!
We drove 2 2' wooden stakes in at each end of the peony rows. Then we attached 2 rows of wire, one near the top, one 4" lower. As the peonies grow, I make sure I tuck them behind the wires. The wires support the stems so in rain storms the peonies stand up fairly straight. Wish I could draw you a picture! What I will do instead is take a photo in May when the stakes and wires are in place again.
My peonies always grew too tall for the traditional peony "rings" to do any good.

Gardens at Waters East said...

Astrid, It is a beautiful flower. I agree with you. Like you, my original plants were a gift from a neighbor. She has since died so every time I am out among them, I think of her. They are a great memorial in addition to being great bloomers. I have posted a number of them on the blog in the past, including a posting called Peony's Envy posted on February 12, 2012. Enjoyed my visit. Jack

Astrid said...

Hi Jack
I used to have the plants scattered throughout different borders but once I planted them all together around the deck, I immediately got a more dramatic statement.
They are truly lovely.

Landscape Design By Lee said...

Your peonies are gorgeous! I have always had a love for peony and have a cluster of three Karl Rosenfeld's in my garden that I look forward to every spring. The color and rose like appearance of this flower is beyond any other. I love how they line your deck-beautiful!

Patty said...

One of my favorite plants too. That pink cupped one you have is a beauty.

Astrid said...

Hi Lee
I think you may have identified one of my "unknown" peonies! Maybe what I have is a Karl Rosenfeld. The colour certainly is similar! Thanks for mentioning the name of yours.

Hi Patty
Does your garden have enough sun for peonies? Once you plant some, they are a joy to behold every spring.

Jennifer said...

You have a nice array of peonies Astrid! I wish the flowers lasted longer, but they sure put on a beautiful show in June.

john simpson said...

Your peonies are gorgeous! Its so relaxing seeing those beautiful garden photo of yours. Thanks for sharing. Garden Products in Somerset