Peony News

The Pacific Northwest Peony Society’s annual meeting was last Saturday, March 8th in Wilsonville, OR. As usual, it was a peony gardeners’ delight. There were informative presentations on starting peonies from seed (Bob Johnson); weed control and marketing ideas (Adelman family) and an overview of our Society’s new website. Kady Adelman welcomes member input and photos for the site.  

Our President, Carol Adelman welcomed members and noted that we had a number of American Peony Society (APS) board members present: Eleanor Tickner, Don Hollingsworth, Piet Wierstra, Lore Sampson and Carol. Al Rogers, founder of our local society was able to stop by, too. What an honor! Between these folks and all of the other attendees, the breaks were filled with greetings and peony talk.

The day went by too quickly, ending with our spirited fundraising auction. The proceeds are used to promote peonies and information on peony gardening to the public. Members Jim and Lore Sampson have been organizing our very successful auctions for quite a few years now. If they started a ‘Peony Wars’ television show, it would be an instant hit; because, there isn’t much else that provides the Wow factor that a peony does when 3 or 4 members want it.

I have been a member for 12 years, and this is the 2nd meeting I have attended that I did not take the minutes. After the first meeting I attended, I was asked if I would be secretary. And so, it began. This was the 2nd time in 12 years that I have sat and enjoyed the annual meeting without needing to zero in on who said what and who made that motion. I appreciate the time and work that goes into planning and running an event and feel ever so slightly guilty that I didn’t do any of it this time – just enjoyed every minute. Thanks to everyone who contributed to this fine event. Job well done!

If you’d like to hang out with peony lovers or learn more about peonies, check out one of the peony societies in the U.S. (or other countries). The American Peony Society has links to U.S. societies and the Canadian Peony Society.

 

June 4, 2013

The Mid-Atlantic Peony Society hosted the American Peony Society’s (APS) annual convention and floral exhibit at Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania May 31 – June 2. I was thrilled to attend, enter a few of our peonies in the floral exhibit and tour some of the expansive gardens and property. The setting was breathtakingly beautiful. We were treated fabulously – the peony society members and staff at Longwood went the extra mile providing helping hands and welcoming hospitality. I give them an A+++.  Some of us ventured out to Eleanor Tickner’s nearby peony nursery where we received ‘the royal tour’ from her family. Eleanor and her husband Bill put a lot of time and effort into coordinating the convention, as I am sure many of the Mid-Atlantic Peony Society members, APS members and Longwood Gardens staff did.

The Philadelphia area was experiencing a ‘heat wave’ with temperatures in the 90’s and a good dose of humidity. There were times when both the lovely peonies and the attendees were wilting; but that didn’t stop peony gardeners and growers from around the country from displaying gorgeous peony flowers. We were honored to receive a ‘Court of Honor’ for our peony entry ‘Ave Maria’.  Our Oregon neighbors, Adelman Peony Gardens, took top honors with ‘Best in Show/Grand Champion’ for the tree peony flower ‘Boreas’.

Preparing for the competition is an exciting event, with lots of logistics to coordinate: selecting, cutting and shipping flowers to the event; staging them in water a day or two before the show; the challenges of heat; properly classifying them; and, trusting that your flowers are set on the correct table, in the correct classification. My friend Rita, a peony gardener in Washington state joined me in the excitement this year. We had the benefit of the use of floral coolers, which was a godsend with the heat. As usual, we had too much fun when we are together. We learned a lot, misclassified a few of our entries, tossed out the blooms that 'blew open' too soon, either irritated or entertained others with our exuberance and had a great time. Logistics and sites may vary year to year; but, it always cumulates with a beautiful and enchanting exhibit of peonies for the public to view.  

Having now visited Longwood Gardens, I suggest everyone who loves plants, flowers or trees visit it – it’s a ‘national treasure’ in my book. The conservatory, trial gardens, formal gardens and fountains are absolutely stunning. I am so impressed that Pierre DuPont arranged that this would be shared with the world. I am grateful to have gone to such a lovely place to visit and to meet with other peony society members. 

Here are a couple of photos from the weekend: ‘Ave Maria’, our Court of Honor; and, my friend Rita and I prepping flowers. I am the one on the left, with the humidity hair, that 'looks more like my Mother every day'. Yikes! Sorry, Mom. 

     

A few years ago, the American Peony Society began awarding their 'Award of Landscape Merit' (ALM) designation to peony varieties that have great landscaping characteristics, including disease resistance and standing up to wind and rain. No doubt, there will be many additional varieties added to the list in coming years, as this award is in it's infancy and there are a number of peonies with these qualities.

We raise the following ALM peonies at Brooks Gardens:  Bartzella, Charm, Coral Sunset, Cytherea, Do Tell, Early Scout, Garden Treasure, Hillary, Krinkled White, Lovely Rose, Many Happy Returns, Nice Gal, Old Faithful, Pink Hawaiian Coral, Prairie Charm, Salmon Dream, Topeka Garnet, White Cap, Canary Brilliants, Little Red Gem, Eliza Lundy and Mahogany. 

There are many peony varieties with upright plant habitat that don't require staking. Stem strength is one of the qualities peony hybridizers keep in mind when selecting parent plants for their breeding programs. When choosing a peony plant at the farm, you can see the mature plant in the field and choose plants that fit your expectations. Peony plants grow in many shapes and sizes: upright peony plants, low growing border plants, heavy headed flowering peony plants that benefit from staking, tall stemmed peony plants for cut flowers, peony plants that make a statement, peony plants that make a great hedge row from spring to fall, tall wispy peony plants for height, etc. Walk through the peony field and see what types appeal to you for your garden.

Therese, May 17, 2012

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