Category Archives: peonies

Not again!

It has been raining almost every day for about a month, and we are sick of it, as you can see from this extremely witty Facebook post.just-walking-my-fish


Even someone like me, who welcomes a rainy day as an excuse to quilt and read, is getting weary.  We had one sunny day last week, and the air was ringing with the sounds of lawn mowers.  I was able to edge the sunny border, fighting with the witch grass all the way, and started to replenish the soil in the newly installed raised bed.  Rainy today, Sunday, and predicted to go on until some time on Tuesday.  And to top it off, we are still in a rain deficit for the year!

On another note, garden bloggers’ Bloom Day has come and gone yet again without a post from me.  Here is a reconstruction, and a list from 2014 (another of those pieces of paper that floats around the kitchen counter until needed).

Early May 2014

  • Cherokee phlox
  • False Solomon’s seal
  • Ghostly bulb in white garden
  • small white allium
  • hellebores
  • mazus reptans
  • bluebells
  • tulips (going by)
  • columbine and wild columbine
  • sweet woodruff
  • Topolino (I think) daffodil in sunny bordertopolino
  • tiarella
  • euphorbia
  • vinca
  • sorrel
  • Star of Bethlehem
  • dandelions
  • Viburnum ‘Shasta’ and neighbor’s pink dogwood
  • bleeding hearts (white and red)
  • white azalea
  • garlic mustard
  • geranium macrorrhizum ‘Ingwersen’s variety’
  • bugleweed
  • lily of the valley
  • pink azalea
  • coral bells
  • Sun Dial narcissus
  • pansies

This year is much the same, except that mid-May this year found nary a trace of the mazus and wild columbine, both lamented.  I think the hellebores might have crowded out the columbine.  The Topolino daffodil again was the last to bloom and is most welcome.

‘Sarah Bernhardt’ is in bloom, as gorgeous and over the top as ever.

2016 peony

Equally magnificent in a very different way is the Jack in the pulpit that either Becky or Judy passed along to me.  It seems to be very happy in this cool, wet spring. Jack in the pulpit

Thanks to advice from Adrian Higgins, I sowed my Shirley poppy seeds in February and hoped for the best.  They were just lying around, so why not give it a go? Lo and behold, it worked!  poppy

This gorgeous red is a good contrast with the blue columbines that have taken over the garden (their days are numbered if it ever dries out a bit).

Peony Lust

Adrian Higgins in this week’s column in the Washington Post refers to the ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ peony as “pink and blowzy.”  Despite his dissing one of my favorites, I found it an interesting piece on growing peonies in our area.  He discusses the problem of peonies weighed down and falling to the ground but barely discusses staking, which I have found keeps Miss Bernhardt from misbehaving too badly.  Here are a handful of ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ blooms gathered on a rainy day and brought inside to grace the dining room table.

I  also have two unknown peonies given to me by Susan Hepler, so they are known to me as Heplers.  One didn’t bloom this year – I’m sure because it is so crowded out by the irises -but the other had one flower that makes me understand why single peonies are also glorious. 

I had never heard of the new ‘Itoh’ varieties Higgins mentions.  Here’s a post about them.  Seeing the prices, I may need to hold off a few years until they’re more affordable.  In the meantime, I can long for ‘Bartzella’ with its buttery yellow blooms.  Or just go to the American Peony Society site, with its cascading slideshow of delectable flowers.

This is the time of year when some of us dream of beds of peonies of all descriptions.  Mom always said to include them in the border rather than displaying them alone, since they are gorgeous briefly and then all that’s left is the foliage.  Maybe the new bed has room for a few peonies, too?