Saturday, April 18, 2009

Rising Peonies

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Quiet at last here on the mountain after an incredible night of wind as the weather fronts changed. Yesterday the temperature rose to 58 degrees and the wind pounded long after we retired for the night. We are anemometer-less here so have no confirmation of the real wind speed but it surely melted more snow and upped the forest fire danger higher than it already is. You would never know of yesterday's wind now as it's motionless and 43 degrees.

Last night Karl the Wonder Dog begged and begged to walk some more. When spring comes his sniffer goes into overdrive and walks are never long enough. We actually enjoy the long walks except when he finds an errant bone or something else springy that he shouldn't grab on to. We envy his ability to be able to run and have fun and resist returning to the house and then within seconds of his return be laying in the sun or by the stove snoring. Dog life can be good!

As we walked last night the peony nursery was a surprise. The snow just came off but the peonies were obviously putting up growth even before the snow exited at garden. The plants are up about 4 inches already. I'll spray them with Tree Guard tomorrow because I really want the flowers for late spring brides but that requires competition with the deer. Smouthii, the fern leafed peony, is always the first to bloom and the deer just love it.

Peony 'Top Brass'

Peony 'White Wings'

When you order peonies they often arrive for fall planting and books and guides never mention spring planting. We have long planted and relocated peonies in the spring too and have always had good success. Peony roots can be big so you have to use care when digging. They should be planted just an inch and a half to two inches below the surface so consider a good 18" radius away from any new stems you notice. Get a good clump of dirt with the roots during spring relocations. Some garden centers have peonies in those little cardboard boxes for $6 to $10 depending on where you live. If you are new to peonies, that's not much expense to try one. They won't bloom for a couple years but it's a way to get started. Plant them as if they will be there forever with amended soil and good sunlight.

Our old web site had a nice piece on peonies and a list of those we are growing on. Gail wouldn't let me move any to our new nursery because she thought it would create more trouble as visitors saw beautiful plants they couldn't buy. She was right of course but I wanted that 45 day period of being surrounded by June colors and fragrances that cannot be replaced by any other flower. Probably the best reason to take the page off the new site was that soon-to-be brides called year round wanting, sometimes begging for peonies at times when they just don't grow in North America. We had a lot of nice conversations and gave out a lot of good info but in the end no bride ever changed her wedding date to wait for peonies.

Rain is on the way today. Not a lot but enough to make the temperature feel cold as we erect a new 30 X 60 foot shade house. I have a lot to get ready before the helpers arrive. Regardless of the weather, get out and into your gardens today and see what's new, what's bigger, what's missing. Don't buy any plants yet as it's just too early and you'll only have to take care of something that will look better at a greenhouse or nursery while the real spring arrives.

From the mountain above Peacham Pond where 6 ducks just landed on the trout pond and a medium sized Great Blue Heron stands sentry looking for a frog on a frogless, peeperless morn.

Be well and get gardening!

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener

Our revised site Vermont Flower Farm is up and ready for your orders.

Vermont Gardens


George Africa said...

Sorry about the labels! if you looked at the pictures earlier, the bottom two peonies were both labeled as Top Brass. Bottom one is White Wings, now labeled correctly. Sometimes the gardener gets tired!


Randy Emmitt said...

We love peonies too! Just a few in our garden as we have a vegetable garden and butterfly garden. Anyway we went on the Peidmont Farm tour this past weekend and one organic farmer had a hug peony patch see my blog at The story was 25 years ago he bought a Park Seed special 10 pack on unnamed peonies, 2 divisions later he has the largest patch I have seen of peonies, not quite ready to bloom.

Hostabuff, Zone 6a said...

I do love Peonies. I am looking forward to Peppermint Stick blooming in my garden this year. Purchased it last summer in Vermont!

Julie said...

Bottom one is White Wings, now labeled correctly. Sometimes the gardener gets tired!
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