Peonies

inchworm

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Fall is considered the best time to transplant. However, being an impatient person, I've always translanted my peonies in the spring. When I transplant in the spring, I always dig far beyond the stem and extra deep, and move the whole clump of dirt with it so as to disturb the roots the least. Haven't lost one yet.

Inchy
 

Branching Out

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In 2020 I joined the Canadian Peony Society, and they have an annual peony seed sale thanks to the hard work of a couple of their members who spend hours collecting and cataloguing seeds. I decided to try growing them from seed, which is a long game; I think it takes about five years before you get a bloom. They sent planting instructions with the seeds, and be darned if it doesn't work just the way they said. This year's sprouts as well as last year's seedlings are all starting to poke up through the soil. They recommend protecting the fragile seedlings from birds or from squirrels that might dig them up, so for now I keep a tray on top of them.

I am not quite sure where I am going to put these, because they need to remain in the same spot for a really long time. Might have to dig up more lawn. 😉
 

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Branching Out

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You are very kind Heirloomgal. I will give that some thought. 🤔

In 2020 a friend and I dove in to learning how to grow flowers from seed, and while we have made quite a lot of progress we still have epic fails. There is a lot to learn, and to keep track of. Some flowers are very tricky to germinate, but if you find out how to meet the needs of the seeds it often results in a sprout.

I accidentally became a peony person a while back, because there were a few peony bushes that came with our house when we bought it--- and then dozens more popped up over the course of a few years. Now I have more than will comfortably fit in my garden, so I am having to make some tough decisions on which ones to keep. The Peony Society has helped me to become ruthless at culling the sub-standard cultivars (those with weak stems for example, or buds that open a bit prematurely and allow rain to enter causing rot). Last year I hardly got a usable stem because the cold wet weather destroyed all of the blossoms. They turned brown and mushy, as in the photo below. Normally they are just spectacular, and so nice for sharing when they are in bloom!
 

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heirloomgal

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Beautiful! I'm not sure there is a perennial flower that can compare to it's abundant blooms, scent, and graceful stature in ground as well as in a vase. Flower arrangements with them are just stunning. In my climate they take SO LONG to grow to a good size though, so I haven't planted as many as I would if they grew faster. It probably takes 5 years from a greenhouse transplant for me to get a nice, small show. I got lucky the first year I planted some, blindly choosing whatever greenery was best in the nursery pots and wound up with a 'Duchess de Nemours'. The scent is out of this world, it might even be too heady for some. I love it and the blooms are gorgeous too, a cream color. I think there are some annuals that are gorgeous simply because they mimic the look of peonies, lol.

I think I have inadvertently planted some sub-standard ones since the Duchess. At least, aesthetically. I put in one called 'Karl Rosenfield' a year or two ago and it was a pink dud. Maybe it wasn't even KR. Some of the flowers in your last photo looks like 'Bowl of Beauty' - that is another gorgeous variety. I have Martha Stewart's old gardening book and it's a treasure trove of peony varieties. She has some yellow ones in there, a color I've not seen anywhere.

Growing flowers from seeds! As a predominantly vegetable grower, I have found flowers so difficult! Particularly collecting the seeds from the plants in time. I had such difficulty with 'Lemonade Cosmos' last year. And 'Honeywort' has eluded me nearly every time.
 

Branching Out

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I LOVE the multi-colored one!! What is the name of it? @Branching Out I've not paid much attention to flowers until recently. That one is stunnng.
It may well be Bowl of Beauty Meadow, although I am not 100% sure. A while back Costco offered a collection of about a dozen peonies for a ridiculous price of $15 or something like that. Knowing nothing about peonies I ordered the collection, which arrived in June (totally the wrong time to plant peonies) with the smallest peony starts possible with each about the size of a pencil. I planted them, and they were so small they accidentally got stepped on or dug up on a regular basis. Flash forward 5 or 6 years; each one is now a HUGE shrub, and they are totally overcrowded. They are all quite pretty though. Each year when they bloom I try to add details about the colour and bloom time to their tags, in the hopes that I will get them all catalogued eventually. If I could do it all over I would research the heck out of which cultivars I wanted, and then order them for bare root delivery in the fall. Autumn is the only time that peonies should be planted-- no exceptions. They can be very expensive, and they remain in your garden for 50 years or more so you don't want to have regrets once they are planted. They also need a lot of room, about 4' per plant for good air circulation.

They can be addicting though! If you like red peonies there is one called Henry Bockstoce that has deep, dark, shiny petals that resemble a massive rose; it is very different from most peonies, and is one of my favourites. Each year I cut those ones when they are at the soft bud stage, and then I keep them in the fridge and give a big bouquet of them to my dad for Father's Day. It's tradition now. Shirley Temple blooms later; it is fluffy soft pink and gorgeous too. Coral Charm is very popular, or Reine de Luxe-- 10/10! I would recommend selecting three to start if you have room for them, with an early (Early Glow is quite unique, with broad blush peachy petals), mid, and late season bloomer to extend the season. Personally, I steer clear of typical plant nurseries for peonies (peonies can take a couple of years to produce blooms the 'true' colour-- but my friend ordered several from a local nursery, and when they finally bloomed after a year or so they were the wrong colour completely). I prefer to order from peony growers such as AD Peonies near Seattle; they have an extensive collection. I have ordered from them in the past, and their Moonstone is on my wishlist if I ever order more. Its beauty is ethereal. https://adpeonies.com/product/moonstone/
In Canada I have ordered from Calendon Hills Peony Farm, when Joker pulled at my heart strings, https://caledonhillspeonyfarm.com/search?q=joker
The only named cultivar that I have grown and would not recommend is Largo. Weak stems that bend over under the weight of the buds. In my opinion life is too short to grow peonies with weak stems. :)
 

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