Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Winter Peony Thoughts

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

11 AM on the mountain. The temperature has stopped falling and has grasped a hold on zero for an hour now. The wind is a different story as it stays around 8-9 mph with gusts that send the anemometer spinning at 17 mph. Although some sun peaks through clouds of blowing snow, this is not the day to wander far from the back door and attempts at driving just raise potential for being photographed upside down for the evening news.

This is quite a contrast to yesterday afternoon when I wandered out to snap a couple photos of Sunday night's wet snow, still glued to trees as if magnetized there despite the rising wind. It was a pleasant walk and as I made the turn into the lower field, I glanced towards the peony nursery, half drifted over, with one row of signs still visible. Everything about me was white but in my mind I could envision the peonies of June.

If you have run out of Christmas- present- reading, try the American Peony Society or just Google up peony images and see what you find. Articles and books about peonies often lead you to believe that peonies can only be planted in late August into fall but these are hearty plants that can endure unskilled planters and still survive. They may take a couple years to bloom the way you want but any season except the current one are fine for planting peonies. Use some care and be happy for many years to come.

At times, all gardeners must pretend. Pretend for a minute that you found these beauties in your garden and just picked a fragrant bouquet for the table.

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where blue jays eat lunch sitting on the platform feeder, heading into the wind. As they jump to leave, wind pushes them backwards and sidewards and little out-of-control bundles of blue feathers use challenging acrobatics to right themselves and head for the forest.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm


James Trundy said...

What a PERFECT article for this Beautiful Sunny!!! and COLD winter day!

I look out the window at the snow covered brick walk and picture it lined with peonies followed by zinnias.

2010 is the year to start the peopny collection and Gail has the list I selected when I walked through your peony nursery 2 years ago!!

The are indeed a majestic Spring welcome

George Africa said...

Hello James;

Don't think I ever saw the list but Gail assures me she has it. Those peonies are well established and are beautiful but will take some time & energy to dig so give us some lead on when you want them. Remember to prepare the beds well and if they are going along your walkway, keep in mind that stone or cement draw heat year round and the last thing you want to have happen is plants breaking dormancy in January.

As for zinnias, we swear by Benary brand which we purchase from Johnny's Seeds in Maine. The prices went up a bunch this year but they are the best we have found. We direct seed when the soil warms up but many places are starting them in the greenhouse in pots for instant display come the third week in June.

Happy New Year