Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tree Peonies-And So It Begins!


John and I attended the New Jersey Floral & Garden Show followed by New York In Bloom Flower Show at the Albany State Museum while visiting with our grandchildren, Vehicle Boy and the Fairy Princess and both visits made us anxious for "digging in the dirt". That, my friend, is a little impossible for us here at Pittsgrove at the moment since our dirt is still under a blanket of snow that the Olympic folks would be happy to have on Cypress Mountain in Vancouver! The only digging has been by our native white tail deer who have foraged throughout our property for some tender shoots to nibble upon.

Just as John was starting to get twitchy from having to implement his snow shovel while the garden trowel collects dust in the barn, our friendly UPS man appeared with a shipment of tree peony grafts for us. John's face lit up the way Vehicle Boy's does upon the acquisition of a new Match Box car. Now he had something to do that didn't involve the movement of snow.

Tree peonies are so darn beautiful and pretty darn carefree once planted in the right location. Rather than deteriorating with age, these plants just get more spectacular with each passing year---I try to convince John and our sons that I'm doing the same as I age, but they're not buying that theory!

After John removed the one year peony grafts (tree peonies are grafted onto herbaceous stock) from their packing material, he soaked them in a bucket of water to rehydrate them since they have been dormant for a few months. After soaking for at least an hour, he potted each of them in a 2 gallon container making sure the graft and at least one bud were buried beneath the potting mix.

A third to a half of those plants John just potted will bloom this year. But with each year to come the size of the plant will increase and number of blossoms will multiply, maturing in 5-8 years. Tree peonies reach heights of 2 1/2'-5' tall and blossoms reaching 5-6" across.


Although this batch was all yellow, we intend to have approximately125 plants in 8-9 varieties this year, ranging in age from 2-4 years old. Unlike their herbaceous cousins, tree peonies require partial shade and some protection from drying winds. With proper
planting these lovely plants will reward you for many, many years to come.

Just a reminder for those of you in our area, The Philadelphia International Flower Show starts this Sunday February 28 and runs through March 7. This is the premier event of its kind and if you have never attended, you will be blown away by the outstanding displays.

Think Spring!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Did Anyone Say Spring?

Alberta Spruce lined up in front of a new bed

As our perennials lie dormant, Alberta Spruce and garden gnomes stand as silent sentinels in the snow awaiting the arrival of spring. The pair of Adirondack chairs sit as witnesses to foraging deer near the pond while Japanese and pseudocorus iris nap nearby.

Mr. & Mrs. Gnome standing watch in the snow

As gardeners and lovers of the outdoors, we tend to get anxious about now. The days are getting longer and the sun is setting two to three minutes later each day. The seed catalogs begin to fill up the mailbox and we sit by the fire planning our grand gardens on paper and in our minds. Chairs sitting silently by the pond

Customers have begun emailing and phoning with
questions about what we will have available this year, with folks always looking for something new. We enjoy hearing from old gardening friends and from folks we hope will become new friends.

On cold sunny days, we go out to the greenhouse we built to winter over some of the plants we potted up in the fall. We putter with the plants while Sassy, our Westie, sniffs around for mice. She can't catch them but has fun trying.

Sassy, our resident mouser
On warmer days when the ground isn't frozen, we push back down the metal and wooden plant markers that have heaved up due to freezing and thawing along with any rhizomes that may have done the same.

Recently we met with some of our buddies at Presby for a brainstorming session during which a great many ideas were shared to make our collaboration even better than last year. Watch both our sites for information as it becomes available.

We hope spring will be early this year---we have lots to do and would like to get started. There are new beds to fill, Louisiana iris to plant by the pond, and yeah, the two or three beds the wife didn't finish weeding. (Ouch---I forgot she's the one who types these blogs!)

So the spring list is started and we can hardly wait and we're sure, neither can you!

Happy planning! John and Cheryl