Tuesday, May 12, 2015

APS President’s Message

By Scott Parker, WPS Director and APS President

One of my favorite things to do each winter is to check out all of the new peony and plant offerings in the garden catalogues and on the web. A large number of peony growers already have sent out their catalogues and updated their web sites with their 2015 offerings. Each year I put together my Must Have List- peonies that I cannot live without and my Wish List- peonies that I would like to add to
my gardens, but …… The only problem is that my Must Have List tends to be a lot larger than my Wish List. It’s just another sign that the bite of the peony bug has infected me with a very severe case of peony addiction.
I try and place my herbaceous peony and tree peony orders as soon as possible since the rarer  varieties sell out very fast and tend not to be available for several years.  Tree peony availability can vary widely from year to year since there a number of factors that affect the grafting process. Based on my experience some peony varieties are more vigorous growers than other varieties so they will be ready to be divided in 3 years while others can take 5 or more years to grow into a dividable
plant/clump. A number of hybrid varieties tend to have one large neck that connects the crown to the root system which makes dividing them extremely difficult and results in very few saleable divisions. Thus, some varieties are not offered as often since it takes them more years than other varieties to reestablish themselves into a dividable plant/clump. So if you have not placed your peony and plant orders yet do so as soon as possible or you might be regretting it for a number of years.
The general, public’s knowledge of peonies and the different varieties of peonies is very limited. In general, they tend to think that all peonies are pink, white or red in color and their flowers lie on the ground if not supported by some type of mechanical support such as a cage. APS was organized exclusively for education and scientific purposes, especially to promote, encourage and foster the development and improvement of the genus Paeonia and public interest therein. Thus, in 2008,
APS members created the Award of Landscape Merit (ALM), which is conferred on varieties which need no mechanical support to support their blooms, have superior ornamental value, an appealing appearance in the landscape throughout the growing season, and perform reliably across North America. In 2014, the ALM was conferred on “Garden Lace”, “Gay Paree”, and “Sword Dance”. Currently the ALM has been conferred on 40 peony varieties, which are posted on the APS web
site under the Awards- Award of Landscape Merit The American Peony Society’s National Convention will be May 13-17, 2015 at the Galt House Hotel, Louisville, Kentucky. The Convention will offer Parts I and II of the Award of Landscape Merit (ALM) Judges Training Workshop, guided tours of the Whitehall Mansion and Gardens, the Yew Dell Botanical Gardens, and Sue Grafton’s Famous Crime Novelist gardens, located on her 1912 estate.
The highlight of each APS National Convention is the APS flower show, open for public viewing Saturday afternoon. In addition, there will be presentations on the peonies which have received the Award of Landscape Merit, how to use peonies in floral design and how to take quality flower pictures, given by a professional photographer.
At the APS banquet on Saturday evening will be a short presentation by Allen Bush of Jelitto Perennial Seeds. The AGM will be followed by an auction of peonies from the rarest of the rare to the time proven and tested. The APS flower show will reopen for Sunday viewing.
I would like to send my best wishes for the Canadian Peony Society Show, June 6-7, in Ottawa. I envy those attendees who will be able to tour the peony gardens at the Central Experimental Farm (CEF), which has one of the largest collections of A.P. Saunders’ introductions. 􀀀

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