Peonies: Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

– Posted in: Peonies
17 comments
Peony 'Bev'

‘Bev’ was planted in fall 2002 and has filled out substantially

Peonies remind me of my paternal grandmother. Whether it was an evening with her bridge group, Sunday Mass, or a family cookout, she always dressed fashionably, including fully applied makeup and perfume. To be called glamorous was a compliment she always appreciated. She also grew peonies in her yard, not that she was much of a gardener. I’m not sure whether it is their fragrance or their over-the-top kind of beauty that most calls my grandmother to mind. They just seem like the kind of flower she’d have in a vase on her vanity as she applied her makeup, even though I know there was no room in her modest bedroom for a vanity, and she applied all her cosmetics in front of the bathroom mirror.

Peony 'Aimee's Pink Petticoat' in a vase

‘Aimee’ looks fabulous in a vase

June is the month for peonies around here. There were some peonies growing here when we moved in, but they weren’t as fragrant as I remember my grandmother’s being. Just as with roses, lilies, lilacs, and almost every fragrant flower you can think of, not all peonies are fragrant. Not all peonies are floppers, either, as you can see from the photo at left. No matter how much she is pelted by rain or tossed by the wind, ‘Bev’ remains upright. And no matter how gentle the breezes and dry the weather, ‘Aimee’s Pink’ flops. I cut almost all of ‘Aimee’s’ blossoms for the vase. ‘Rozella’ is the third peony that I bought (as opposed to inherited or received as a passalong).

Peony 'Rozella'

‘Rozella’ peony is shorter and later than ‘Bev’

‘Rozella’ blooms later than ‘Bev’ and is shorter but just as upright. Unfortunately, ‘Rozella’ is quite vulnerable to botrytis. I removed all the foliage last year and burned it, and I’ve been deadheading daily, but I still see signs of infection. I confess I didn’t spray faithfully last year. I was supposed to spray every two weeks but I couldn’t spray when it was raining, and then I forgot. And then my son used the spray on his squash plants and before I knew it my free sample was all gone.

All sorts of flowers bloom in June, and many have fragrance, but I just go ga-ga over peonies. Voluptuous, gorgeous, and, yes, glamorous–I think peonies appeal to an aspect of myself I’m too practical (or embarrassed) to indulge in.

Three good sources for peonies

Also blooming now

In no particular order:

  • bearded irises
  • Oriental poppies
  • Johnny-jump-ups
  • ‘Crater Lake Blue’ veronica
  • ‘Six Hills Giant’ catmint
  • double German catchfly
  • feverfew
  • coral bells
  • mountain bluets
  • mock orange
  • Siberian irises
  • ‘Black Stockings’ meadow rue
  • ‘Concord Grape’ spiderwort
  • ‘Beacon Silver’ lamium
  • dames rocket
  • columbine
  • ‘Wanderin’ Wind’ rose
  • valerian
  • sweet William

Stop by at May Dreams Garden for all the other Bloom Day reports.

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

. . . the difference between great daffodils and common ones is not so vast as one thinks in the first flush of excitement when one starts being serious about daffodils.

~Henry Mitchell in The Essential Earthman: Henry Mitchell on Gardening

16 Comments… add one

Vivienne October 2, 2010, 12:45 am

My mother raised peonies, beautiful gorgeous plants. She had so many flowers she used to give neighborhood kids bouquets to take to their mothers. Heavenly fragrance. I have read the plants can live for a century.
Sadly my three peonies get eaten regularly by the deer. I like deer less and less each year.

norma e mizer October 26, 2008, 1:20 pm

Mother had peonies along the back fence when I was growing up. I finally was able to afford 6 plants this spring. Unfortunately, several had very tall leggy stems. Will it delay the plant from blooming if they are trimmed back this fall?
Thank you. Sincerely, Norma E. Mizer, Vancouver, WA

Trishia July 3, 2007, 3:02 pm

oh my, peonies! a neighbor of ours had these when I was a kid, we used to pick them on the way to visit my aunt… she would proudly display them in her livingroom when we were there-

years later I learned that she always tossed them outside as soon as we left since they were infested with ants!!! ;)

is this a plague of any particular type? I seem to remember the ones we picked as being very pale pink…
interesting how some can stand tall and proud and others fall down!

Kathy Purdy June 30, 2007, 3:09 pm

Craig, they are showing signs of botrytis but because it is dryer it is not overwhelming the peonies.

Craig Levy June 30, 2007, 7:37 am

I’m glad you included the information on flopping plants, a particular pet peeve of mine and why I prefer singles. But I do like the looks of ‘Bev’ and she epitomizes the darker meaning of glamour – casting a spell and bewitchment (witchcraft perhaps!). A co-worker once used the phrase glamour puss to describe the beauty shots of old-time movie stars and I think it describes ‘Bev’ too.

I hope your peonies are botrytis free this year but then we never would have met online if they hadn’t been infested last year. We have had little rain this month and the garden is fungus free but looking very dessicated.

kerri June 22, 2007, 2:43 pm

Aren’t the peonies beautiful? Mine are blooming gloriously now too. I have 2 white bushes that are a happy surprise….given to me as small passalongs several years ago and just now blooming for the first time. There was a mixture of colors and no names.
Your pinks are wonderful. We saw an unbelievable collection of peonies at the Cornell Plantations on June 1st. Definitely worth the trip.

lisa June 21, 2007, 12:23 pm

Beautiful! My mom has always grown several varities, including ‘Bowl of Beauty’-one of my favorites! Up here, my peonies start in late May, and I have a couple reds that are just now opening. Thanks for that nursery link…I’m always looking for a new place to spend money on plants! ;-)

Jane June 21, 2007, 9:45 am

Oh, crap, now how am I going to choose?! La Pivoinerie is amazing and they’re all so beautiful and I only have room for a couple (sniff).

Next door’s pure whites are blooming. Lovely.

Robin June 21, 2007, 6:56 am

These peonies are amazing! Mine bloomed a month ago here in Zone 7, but weren’t nearly this glorious. I had perhaps 5-6 blooms on each plant.

Kathy Purdy June 21, 2007, 6:46 am

Jane, one thing I like about La Pivoinerie is they tell you how much staking needed and how fragrant each peony cultivar is. They’re one of the few places that really gives you enough information to make an intelligent decision.

Mary Ann June 20, 2007, 11:00 pm

Dear KP,

It was so hot here my peonies lasted about 3 minutes. I enjoyed taking the time to look at yours and reading about your grandmother.

Klehm’s Song Sparrow catalog is one of my absolute favorites.

Jane June 20, 2007, 10:47 am

Here in zone 3 my peonies aren’t quite blooming yet (except the fernleaf variety which is long over). I think they’re late this year. No idea what variety they are – I inherited them with the house. One is a very dark pink flopper and the other is white with an occasional pink tinge that stays fairly upright without support (although I do have a ring on it anyway).

I love peonies and am planning on adding more when my new front garden is ready for planting. The problem is deciding on varieties – I will look for Bev or Rozella, because I don’t have that shade of pink and I like that they stay upright.

Years ago (1923-49) there was a peony nursery (the Silver Heights Peony Garden) in our neighbourhood. It was enough of a landmark that it has been recreated at Fort Edmonton Park (http://www.ftedmontonpark.com/1920pics/index_18.html). The pictures shown are a couple of years old – it’s filled out some since then.

Ki June 20, 2007, 8:47 am

Both Rozella and Bev look just great. I love the lush flowers against the dark green leaves. Our neighbor has a common pink variety but the leaves are a light green. The flowers don’t look very nice against that background. But, she doesn’t care for them very well so it may just be a of lack of fertilizer.

Kathy Purdy June 19, 2007, 8:17 pm

Carol and Marie–yes, my grandmother was quite a lady. She was a computer programmer when it was a far more male-dominated field. She liked her luxuries and she earned the money to pay for them. She learned to drive when in her fifties–after my grandfather died. Brainy and feminine both, but she was no gardener. That was my other grandmother.

Carol June 19, 2007, 5:04 pm

Those peonies do look glamorous and your grandmother sounds like quite a lady. I can’t believe they are blooming now for you, I’m just one zone different and I think mine were done a month ago!

Thanks for participating in GBBD, even late. I was wondering where you had gone off to!

Marie FKA Piana Nanna June 19, 2007, 3:05 pm

I wish we all were as glamorous as your grandmother and your peonies. Maybe we’ve just gotten lazy and it’s time to “glam up.” I think you’re ready.

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