Friday, August 31, 2012

Peonies without Stakes

Maggie Easton

During the month of June, common peonies (Paeonia lactiflora) bloom in many Edmonton gardens. Their gorgeous flowers were initially bred for the cut-flower trade in the early 1900’s and grown in greenhouses. I’m told that if, when the bud is first starting to show colour, it is picked, wrapped in plastic and refrigerated, it will keep for weeks. I haven’t tried it, but I suspect it is true. This would have been a valuable trait in the days before air freight made it possible to get cut flowers to any part of the world almost overnight.
Unfortunately, the common peony is not the greatest garden performer, in my opinion. Although hardy, low-care and long-lived, the blossoms of these plants have a tendency to flop over after the inevitable rain storm has swept through. No matter how gracefully they bow down to ‘kiss the ground’ at the first sign of rain or wind, they still end up lying in the mud. I have never succeeded in staking them so that they stay upright without looking as if they are in prison. I think I will treat them as cut flowers this year, and bring them in when they start to show colour.
If, like me, you have no luck staking these stunning flowers but still want to grow peonies, consider growing some species peonies, Japanese peonies, or some of the smaller rock garden peonies. None of these need staking and all are equally beautiful additions to the perennial garden.
I had three different species peonies blooming in my garden this spring. The first one, Paeonia anomala, usually blooms just before the May long weekend. Of course, this year it was the end of May. This peony gets single, deep rose-pink, 4 in. flowers. They have a boss of yellow stamens and interesting seedpods in the fall. The foliage grows 2 to 2 ½ ft. tall and the flowers are carried just above the foliage. P. anomala does not need staking, even in the wind tunnel where I planted it.
Fernleaf peony
  P. tenufolia
(Photos: Maggie Easton)
P. trirernata
   P. triternata

     P. Anomala  
         P. anomala

Another species, P. tenuifolia (Fernleaf peony) bloomed at the same time. This charmer grows only about 1 to 1½ ft. tall. When it is emerging in the spring, it looks like something from outer space. The stems are red, crowned with a ruff of feathery foliage, with a spherical flower bud in the centre. It is fascinating to watch this one grow and mature. The flowers are deep red, single (there are double Fernleaf peonies as well) and they top strong stems adorned with extremely fine-cut foliage of a medium green. P. tenuifolia is slow to get established, but once it gets going it rewards your patience with more and more gorgeous flowers each spring. This peony never needs staking.
The third species peony that bloomed in my garden this spring is P. triternata. Again, the flowers are single, with yellow stamens. However, the flowers have deeper pink markings that appear to be hand painted. Each flower is slightly different, but all are beautiful. The foliage is quite different from other peonies. In colour it is more glaucous and more solid than other peonies. The foliage is somewhat wavy. Mine is still a young plant, blooming for the first time this spring, so it is hard to say how tall it will get. Again, this peony does not need staking. The seedpods add fall interest, although I won’t let it set seed this year since I would like the plant to put its energy into growing more flowers for next year. P. triternata blooms just as the Fernleaf peony is finished.
There are many different peony species, and they come in shades of pink, red and yellow. White ones are also available. In addition to not needing to be staked, many species peonies generally tolerate more shade than the common garden peony; good news if you have a very shady garden. In fact, many species are good woodland plants. Of the three I have discussed, only P. tenuifolia needs full sun. As I mentioned, species peonies also have attractive seed pods which extend their season of interest.
I have a ‘rock garden’ peony that I got from Gardenimport. It is called Thumbellina, and grows only about 1½ feet tall. The flowers are pink and single with yellow stamens. It is very floriferous, and stands up to wind and rain. It started blooming when P. triternata is finished. Gardenimport has several different ‘rock garden’ peonies in their catalogue, in various shades of pink or red. These all have a large dose of P. tenuifolia in their DNA.
Japanese peonies have single flowers that are larger than the species peonies. They bloom later in the peony season and come in colours ranging from white through pink to red. They have a large boss of stamens and look wonderful. Because they have single flowers, they are able to withstand wind and rain, and do not need staking.
By choosing the right peonies, it is possible to enjoy peony blossoms for several weeks. In addition, careful selection will ensure freedom from staking and the envy of other gardeners.

Taken from Edmonton Horticultural Society
(Originally published in Gardener's Gate, August 2009) 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Université Laval

à la présentation de la (piivoinne OSIRIS JOHN GOMERY) le 6 juillet 75 personnes ont participer à la fête

présenté par Martinus M. directeur québécois

Friday, August 17, 2012

Peonies for Your Wedding

Every wedding season brings with it a favourite bloom and one of them is the peony.
Brides to be love the large luscious blooms that come in varying shades of white, cream, pink, hot pink, reds and corals.
However, its season of availability is very limited. While typically classified as a late spring, early summer flower, it’s dependent on the weather and once the rains come, the season is done.

Plan on getting married between late April and Mid June if you wish to have one of these at your wedding. It’ll greatly increase your chances of getting this flower.

Here are some photo ideas for your bouquets......
See website below for other ideas

Peonies in shades of pink and white
Dutch parrot tulips and white peonies is set off by a collar of hosta foliage.

rosy hues combine in this romantic arrangement.

white peonies and lily of the valley

peonies and garden roses.

peonies and roses with brunia and ornithogalum
pink peonies, purple anemones, dusty miller, and a few feathers are accented with vintage metallic and fabric leaves

Magenta peonies are combined with Bells of Ireland and green Lady's Mantle in this cascading arrangement

Family handkerchief is wrapped around the base of this lush arrangement of pink and white peonies.

Light-pink peonies and white garden roses accented with decorative kale.

Pale tree peonies, Dutch garden roses, and bleeding hearts with burgundy Japanese maple leaves.

Coral Charm peonies and hosta leaves
White Peonies with Hens and Chicks and feathers

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Bloom Date Project, Part 1

By Michael Denny

One of the important characteristics of peonies is the difference in the bloom dates of different cultivars. This variation extends the peony season and assists in the identification of cultivars. Peony catalogues, books and registration lists provide rough guidelines to the time at which a cultivar will bloom. There is no single source for this information and different sources often provide conflicting information.

When lactifloras were the dominant peonies the problem was not severe. Most lactifloras bloom over a very short period of time. As hybrids became more important, the bloom period lengthened from five to seven weeks and the value of correct information increased. Each nursery chooses its own
method of describing the bloom period. Most are variants of Early (E), Middle (M) and Late (L).

However, a cultivar that is listed as Early in one catalogue is often listed as Middle in another. The situation is even more confusedwhen some, but not all, nurseries expand their categories to include Very Early (VE) and Very Late (VL).

One could not be sure which cultivars listed as (E) in one catalogue belonged with those listed as (VE) in another catalogue.  The Bloom Date Project is an effort to improve the current situation for all peony lovers.

History From 1963-75, the Reverend F. Miller recorded the date of the first bloom for about 200 peony cultivars in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. For a given cultivar, the date varied each year depending on the spring weather. Rev. Miller chose the most common date from the 13 years, which is similar to choosing the median date. The results are published on pages 191-2 of the American Peony Society publication, APS, The Best of 75 Years.

In 1999, I entered the Miller data into a spreadsheet and posted the file on the peony group web site. Currently, this is the Yahoo peony group; but it had earlier names. The posting of the Miller data led to an extended discussion on the usefulness of this type of data. A group composed of Jim Langhammer from Michigan, Leon Pestell from Kansas, Bob Johnson from Oregon, Tom La Bron of  Oklahoma and I began investigating the possibilities of extending the Miller data to a larger number of cultivars.

Thanks to Jim Langhammer, over 20 years of observations on different cultivars at a small number of locations had been found and transformed into spreadsheets. Leon and Jim did the transformation from paper to files. At that time, we had information on the date of first bloom for about 450 cultivars. This original data can still be found as part of the Heartland Peony Society web site.  In the last decade, I have headed the effort to collect more data. Members of the Canadian Peony Society have been important partners in this task. By the end of 2012, we will have over 10,000 observations on the bloom dates of about 1000 different peony cultivars.

Method The data is collected from many individuals in different locations. At each location, the  calendar date on which the first bloom opens is recorded for each cultivar. This is not a scientific collection process.  We all know that weather impacts the time at which peonies bloom.

For example in my garden, ‘Red Charm’ has bloomed as early as May 26th and as late as June 13th in the past thirteen years.  Most of the bloom dates are clustered around June 3rd to 6th.  At any location, there will be variations in the bloom dates based on the weather at that location in that year.  Gardens that are located in warmer climates than mine will have their dates for ‘Red Charm’ shifted to an earlier period. We are confronted with variations in bloom date of ‘Red Charm’ at different locations and at the same location over time. Two methods have been used to reduce these problems. First we have converted the calendar dates into the number of days before or after ‘Red Charm’ blooms. This is called the ‘offset’. As the calendar date for ‘Red Charm’ changes, the offset for all the other peonies will change.

Second, we take averages of the offsets. This is an important step because it will tend to eliminate the extreme observations. To make averaging work, we would like to have at least five observations for each cultivar.  These two adjustments are not perfect solutions to the variation in bloom times. It is difficult to imagine a better system that is as simple. The issues are not unique to our efforts. Anyone who wants to establish accurate data on the bloom periods will confront the same problems.