Peony News

June 5, 2013

We will be sharing our farm with visitors through Sunday, June 16th this year – so you still have time to come out and see peonies in bloom. We keep a number of cut peony flowers on display in our tents, so you can see peony varieties that bloomed earlier in the season, as well as what is currently blooming. In the iris gardens, you may be lucky to spot baby bunny rabbits darting about this week. They are a delight to see; and while they munch on our grass pathways, we never find damage to our garden plants from them. So cute!

Cruise on out this week – it’s a great Oregon country drive.  These beauties stopped by yesterday.

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. 


This Monday, May 27th is Memorial Day. We'll have discounted prices on fresh cut peony flowers and bouquets through Memorial Day. We have a great selection of potted peony plants that can be transplanted now and we also take orders to ship peony root stock for fall planting. We are open daily through June 15th from 10 am - 6 pm. 

For those of you in the Portland area, you may want to check out the peony display hosted by the PNW Peony Society at the Lan Su Chinese Garden    Then drive down to Brooks/Salem, Oregon where you can view hundreds of varieties of peonies growing on Oregon farms. Our Brooks Gardens farm and Adelman Peony Gardens are within 2 miles of each other in the Brooks/Salem, Oregon countryside. Just off of I-5, exit 263.  Egan Gardens, Mid-America Iris, Schreiner's Iris, and Sebright Hostas are in the vicinity, too. Bauman Farms and F & B Farms are just a short 5 miles north of us, off of 99E.

We hope you have a wonderful weekend! 

Brooks Gardens (Brooks, Oregon) peony farm & iris garden is just north of Salem, Oregon. I-5 exit 263; one mile east to Brooks; turn left (north) onto 99E; one mile to Topaz Street. Follow the Peonies & Iris signs.  From Woodburn, drive about six miles south on 99E to Topaz Street.  We are just 35-40 minutes south of Portland, Oregon.  

May 23, 2013

Wow! What a LOT of rain we had yesterday. The weather sites I looked at said we had 0.44” of rain; but, our rain gauge (a bucket) had nearly an inch of water in it. I had emptied it out about 10:30 am, so it actually rained more than that here. 

In the afternoon, just as it started to pour down with hard rain, we had a surprise visit from an ‘old friend’ who used to raise peonies. We hunkered down in the green house to stay warm as we chatted about peonies. We’d lost touch with her over the years; but, her sister had been here recently and brought her out today. My husband was proud to tell her that a peony he got from her years ago (one he excitedly came home to tell me he just had to have) honored us ‘Grand Champion’ at the 2011 American Peony Society. He was thrilled to share the glory with her, as he still thinks of it as 'her' peony.  It was soggy, cold and windy outside; but the little greenhouse was filled with reminiscing and smiles as they recalled their days of collecting and raising peonies. We walked in the field to show them a few of our new varieties and they helped identify a beautiful old-fashioned peony that we purchased without a name, some time back. We sent them on their way with armload sized bouquets of peonies to enjoy. It may have downpoured rain all afternoon; but, they brought a touch of warm ‘sunshine’ with them. 

Earlier in the day, some customers were really getting into selecting peonies with wonderful fragrance. One whiff of the bright yellow ‘Alice Harding’ peony, the pink ‘Nice Gal’ and the blush/white ‘Leona Weinberger’ sold them on the spot. Another customer watched as we compared fragrances and said "I'll have whatever they're having".  ‘Camillia’s White’, ‘Cheddar Surprise’ ‘Dr. Alex Fleming’, ‘Edulis Superba’, ‘Mt. St. Helens’, ‘Myrtle Gentry’, ‘Serene Pastel’ and ‘White Cap’ always top our list of fragrant peonies. The Intersectional (Itoh) peonies have lovely fragrance – some with a lemon scent. We have many other sweetly scented peony varieties growing in our peony field and potted in containers; or, step into our flower tent, where you can easily compare colors, flower forms and scents. Rain or shine, we’ll be here. 

*The 'tub of peonies' is loaded with fresh cuts for your decorating and Memorial Day bouquets - special discount on cut flowers through Monday, May 27. For you folks who come out in today's rain, ask for the 'rainy day' discount on potted peony plants. 

Brooks Gardens (Brooks, Oregon) peony farm & iris garden is just north of Salem, Oregon.  I-5 exit 263; one mile east to Brooks; turn left (north) onto 99E; one mile to Topaz Street. Follow the Peonies & Iris signs. From Woodburn, drive about 6 miles south on 99E to Topaz Street. We are 35-40 minutes south of Portland, Oregon. 

May 22, 2013

The cool weather and rain yesterday sure put a damper on gardening here in western Oregon. Even though we love the warm, dry spring days we've had, we farmers are grateful for the rain, as we’ve had a very dry spring.  The high temperature of the day was 54 degrees - downright chilly with the rain. Some of you were brave to venture out in the morning and early afternoon; but when the showers intensified after 2:00 pm, most gardeners opted for indoor activities.  If you care to join me today, we should have some breaks from the rain. It will be another cool day, so bring that warm jacket, a hat and boots, just in case.

Cheddar Surprise, Frances Willard, Leona Weinberger, Myra McRae, Princess Margaret, Sorbet, White Cap are blooming now. They join over 100 other peony varieties in bloom this week. Many of the very sweetly fragrant and full double peonies are blooming. The reds, such as Command Performance, Illini Warrior, Henry Bockstoce, Many Happy Returns and Topeka Garnet are catching everyone’s eye in the field.

Some folks are already stopping by to pick up flowers for Memorial Day decorating. We’ll have plenty of cut flowers and offer special discounts on cut peonies through next Monday.

The rain didn’t stop this beautiful iris in our Historic iris garden from looking grand!

Brooks Gardens peony farm & iris garden is just north of Salem, Oregon. I-5 exit 263; one mile east to Brooks, Oregon; turn left (north) onto 99E; one mile to Topaz Street. Follow the Peonies & Iris signs. Just 35-40 minutes south of the Portland, Oregon area. From Woodburn, head about 6 miles south on 99E to Topaz Street.

May 20, 2013

A cool weather weekend ended with sunshine and good times.

We had a bustling Sunday at the farm and ended our evening with a barbecue dinner for about 40 guests to celebrate birthdays. It was a lovely evening and the weather co-operated beautifully. Thanks to Monica and our dear friends Nick and Taylor for pulling it all together while we tended to our farm visitors and customers. 

Working in the flower tent, I was tickled to hear a young man (about 20 years old) tell us how enchanting our place was to visit.  He was so excited to be here with his family and just loved the iris gardens and peony farm. Then, a little girl all dressed up – her earrings glistening, came up to me to pay for the special flower she personally selected from the ‘tub of peonies’. She was just a doll and so happy to have found ‘that perfect flower’. Another customer picked up a nice potted peony just bursting with buds and blooms and a bouquet of peonies – she is traveling in Oregon this week and will enjoy the bouquet in her hotel room and gift the peony to one of her friends she visits later this week. I have as much fun as the visitors.

We have newly budded peony plants available in pots this week: Allan Rogers, Easy Lavender, General MacMahon, Sarah Bernhardt (an old-time favorite blush peony) and Shirley Temple – they join about 140 other varieties of peonies that we have available in potted containers this season. We have many other varieties that are available to order bare root for fall planting. We still have a nice selection of potted Intersectional (Itoh) peonies including: Border Charm, Callie’s Memory, Chief Black Hawk, Garden Treasure, Hillary, Julia Rose, Kaleidoscope, Prairie Charm, Rosy Prospects, Scarlet Heaven, Singing in the Rain and Yellow Crown.

Today is predicted to be a warm day, reaching a high of 75 degrees. We’ll enjoy it, as we head into some cooler weather the next week or so. 

Brooks Gardens is located just north of Salem, Oregon; I-5 exit 263; 1 mile east to Brooks, Oregon; left/north onto 99E; one mile to Topaz Street. Just a short 35-40 minute drive south of Portland, between Woodburn and Salem.  Follow the Peonies & Iris signs. 

May 19, 2013

We had a nice rain shower yesterday morning and a few sprinkles in the afternoon. It was refreshing and a bit cool. Today will be warmer, with no rain in the afternoon forecast – a perfect day to drive out to see the peonies and iris blooming.  Tomorrow is predicted to be 75 degrees.

We keep our ‘tub of peonies’ full of fresh cut stems for those who like to make their own bouquet. We also have nice ready-made peony bouquets, great potted peony plants and take orders for bare root peonies for fall planting. We ship the rootstock in September and October. We can often dig iris for our customers, so they can take home and plant now; or, you can order for summer/fall planting.

Today we had visitors from Illinois, Washington, California and all areas of Oregon. I learned some great labeling tips from Susie and Chuck and can’t wait to follow-up during our slow months. Labeling plants with legible signs/labels is a huge effort when you have over 1,000 plants, so when other growers/gardeners share their successes, it’s really appreciated. Now, I just have to schedule the time to do it next winter.

The Keizer Iris festival is this weekend, with activities throughout the day. Check out their website for more details. Keizer, Oregon is just minutes from this area (just north of Salem, OR).

We are blessed with meeting our great niece, Addison, this week. She and her Mom, Camille are here for a visit.  Takes me back out 25 years, when Camille and her sister Emily had us ‘wrapped around their finger’. Tonight we’ll enjoy visiting with them as we celebrate a couple of family birthdays.