Friday, June 20, 2008


What better flower than the beautiful peony for my first blog entry? On my hillside in Southwest New Hampshire they are at the height of bloom now in mid-June. I grow dozens of varieties from big saucer singles to the voluptuous doubles that can barely hold up their huge blooms.

I find them beautiful in every way. An elegant garden plant with foliage that remains green and healthy long after the flowers are gone. Extraordinary bouquets. And beautiful even in the tiny details.

Growing Information:

Peonies are very easy to grow, at least in cold climates. The crown needs to freeze a bit to produce flowers so don’t plant them too deeply. The crown should be just below the soil level, too deep and there will be no flowers.
Peonies seem to last forever with very little care and can be seen blooming away on abandoned New England farmsteads .
They do take a few years to become established and put on a good show. Being impatient I usually buy plants in sets of three and plant them together in a small triangle. This way I get a big plant in a year or two.
Traditional advice is to plant peonies after their growth has died back in the fall but I have had great luck planting potted peonies in full growth in the spring. Similarly I have ignored advice to only transplant in the fall. I transplant throughout the summer without problem.

I don’t cut back old growth in the fall but leave it til the next spring. This is probably a very bad idea if your peonies tend to get diseased but mine never have. I reason that the old foliage gives them some winter protection but it is probably just laziness. Tree peonies which are shrubs, not herbaceous perennials, should, of course, never be cut back unless there are dead branches.

1 comment:

Periwinkle Studio said...

Absolutely beautiful photos! They should be in a magazine! :)Well done!