Peony News

As I dig and divide peonies this fall, I sometimes discover a more ample supply of some varieties and add a few to the Brooks Gardens online peony catalog.

   One such beauty is ‘The Fawn’. It has an amazing flower   form and color. The pink petals are covered in tiny, darker pink dots. I understand the hybridizer B. B. Wright named it so, as a baby deer, a fawn, is covered in spots. When this one blooms, I want it all to myself. 

   I also added a few ‘Campagna’ peony roots. Pure white petals surround a golden center in cup shaped flowers. One of the earliest peonies to bloom each spring, they are one of hybridizer A.P. Saunders great creations.

   'Kelway’s Glorious', known to many as one of the most fragrant varieties is a true heirloom peony. The double, creamy white flowers have occasional crimson red edging. They’ve been a world-wide favorite since being introduced by Kelway in 1909.

   I also added a few 'Sugar ‘n Spice' (Rogers) peonies. The unique salmon-pink color is a real eye-catcher and an early season peony. The huge flowers and broad leaves make quite a garden statement.

I may add a few additional peony varieties as the fall progresses, so check in and browse the offerings now and then.

Bare root peonies are being shipped now and throughout the fall, the perfect time to plant peonies.  

As fall approaches and the weather cools, peony planting season arrives. Bare root peonies are typically planted in the ground from September through November. You can also transplant peonies from containers in the fall.

Peonies don't mind being transplanted, contrary to old tales we've all heard. As perennials, they simply take a couple of years to establish to maturity from root divisions. They can grow for decades in the same garden spot, providing an abundance of flowers each spring. There is no need to divide a healthy, mature peony plant; however, if you wish to do so, fall is the best time to do so. 

While frosty mornings won't affect peony planting, you should plant before the ground is frozen. For many areas, mid-September through October are prime planting months. November is also ideal in warmer areas.  

Here are some easy peony planting tips I've previously shared:

Good Sun  Pick a spot in the garden or yard that gets good sun and decent soil drainage and your peonies can literally last a lifetime. Full sun is great; a little shade is fine. 

Soil - Peonies love clay type soils with good drainage. You can amend the soil if you choose; but, often, there is no need to do so. 

Not too Deep - Spade up a good sized hole, so the roots will have room to spread out and grow. Place the fleshy peony root going down into the hole with the 'eyes' (buds) near ground level. Cover with spaded soil. It's very important that the peony 'eyes' (buds) are close to ground level, with just an inch or two of soil over them. Take care to not plant peonies too deeply.

In warmer climates, such as in parts of California, the peony eyes are placed at the ground surface (with roots going down into the soil) and the eyes are barely covered with soil.  

Water - Give your transplanted peony roots a drink of water and keep slightly moist until the fall rains come. Once established, peonies are rather drought tolerant. 

Peonies do well in USDA zones 2-8 and many gardeners are having success with them in zones 9. They do best with a winter chill and thrive in warm summers.  

Peony plants add texture, foliage and fragrance to your landscape and the flowers can’t be beat for cutting gardens.  Plant peonies this fall to enjoy gorgeous flowers every spring. 

Click here for more information on planting, growing and care of peonies.

Pietertje Vriend Wagenaar – a Speckled Pink Peony

This peony is among the few varieties I see with a ‘speckled’ overlay of additional color on its petals.

The seedling was discovered in the Friends peony field near the peonies Kansas and Sarah Bernhardt. Mr. Friend notes the plant is identical to Kansas with heavy stems.

The red buds open to flowers with a similar pink hue to that of Sarah Bernhardt blossoms. The uniqueness is in the ‘speckles’ that overlay each petal on these double peonies.

I love the traits of this peony plant – attractive deep green foliage, stout stems and magnificent flowers. I have always admired the peony Kansas for its growth habitat and what I see as a perfect flower form.  I find Pietertje Vriend Wagenaar to be an outstanding peony for any garden.  

We have a nice selection of potted peonies for late summer/fall planting. While bare root peonies catch up with potted peony transplants by 3 years, transplanting from a nursery container will get you more flowers your 1st and 2nd year. 

Some of the unique peony plants we have available in containers at our (Oregon) farm include 'Green Lotus' and 'Berry Garcia'. We also have the ever-popular 'Festiva Maxima' and many other old fashioned, super fragrant peonies. Peonies are available in white, pink, yellow and a host of colors. 

            

We also ship bare root peonies in the fall - see our online peony catalog for ordering now. 

Check our homepage for open dates/hours or phone 503-393-7999 to stop by another day.

Located at 6219 Topaz Street NE, Brooks, OR 97305 (between Woodburn and Salem, off of 99E). Directions

 

If you didn’t deadhead in June, you will likely find peony seed pods on some of your varieties. I often receive questions about ‘what those hard, leathery growths are’ on the ends of peony stems.

peony seed pods growing at Brooks Gardens

Most folks are pleased to hear that they are seed pods and might actually be fertile. Yes, you can grow peonies from seed. It takes a few years longer to get a mature peony plant from seed than from a root division. 

Some prolific peony seed producers include Blitz Tort, Delavan Rose, Flame, Mischief, Lemon Chiffon, Lois Kelsey, Nosegay, Picotee, Topeka Garnet, Villosa and White Sands. Sometimes I leave a few spent flowers on particular varieties when I'm dead heading, to produce open pollinated seed in late summer. Other times I leave a few on varieties that never or rarely produce pods – just in case ‘this is the year’.

It’s a bit early to think about ripe peony seed in July…..but, we’re a couple of weeks ahead of average weather in Oregon. We had an early spring and the crops are all keeping that full speed ahead pace this summer. I noticed some cracked-open seed pods on quite a few Paeonia mlokosewitschii over two weeks ago.  

P mlokosewitschii seed Brooks Gardens farm

As I scouted the peony seed pods in the field, I saw quite a few that are already opening. Yikes! Nosegay seed are already scattered. This is far ahead of the usual mid-late August seed ripening. Most seed is still developing (green pods); but do keep an eye out to catch the pods starting to crack open and then harvest your seed.

I put mine in a bowl of water, discard the non-viable seed (red on P. mlokosewitschii) and the floaters (likely hollow or underdeveloped) and plant or pot up the sinkers. Each peony variety that produces seed will have slightly different colored viable seed ranging from tan, dark brown, blue-black to black. Some will sprout next spring and some the following spring. Be sure to label the seed parent (and the pollen parent if you hybridized it). With a bit of patience, you may grow the next, best peony plant.

It's all in the family with our peony seed photo shoot his summer -  I grabbed a handmade ceramic vase to put a few pods in and my niece Soraya shot the great photos.

peony seed pods in pottery by Janet Sprauer

While I knew the vase was made by my sister Janet in 1973 high school ceramics class, it was pure coincidence that it was on her birthday when we did the photo shoot (I never even made the connection until I was typing this). While Janet has only seen my farm from heaven, I know she loves being a part of it. 

Wishing you a wonderful 4th of July holiday weekend. Water your gardens and then go have some fun.

Our peony season was different this year – it started out early with blooms in late March and peaked by mid-May. From the very early varieties to the very late varieties of peonies, we enjoyed 10 weeks of peony blossoms!

It’s been a joy to meet so many of you and share tips on planting and growing peonies. We want you to enjoy the rewards of growing your own beautiful peonies, too.

You may contact us to pick up potted peony plants by appointment this summer.

Thanks again for being a part of our 2016 peony season.

Therese

Categories

Recent Blog Posts