Peony News

May 12, 2013

Happy Mother’s Day!  Looks like it will be a refreshing 70 degrees with a chance of (welcome) showers. Personally, I kind of wilt when it’s 80+ degrees; so, I’m looking forward to the lower temperatures predicted this week. The flowers will love the cooler weather, too.

The Coral Charm peonies are opening and stunning as usual: they are standing over 4 feet tall and loaded with blossoms. They’ll be dazzling this week. The Coral Sunsets are breathtaking with their orange hue.

Bo Peep, Camillia’s White, Flame, Gay Paree, Goldilocks, Petticoat Flounce, Raspberry Charm, Raspberry Sundae and Serene Pastel are gorgeous, as are the peony varieties that have opened in the past couple of weeks. I always love the brilliance of Flame and the aptly named Raspberry Charm peony – they are favorite bright colored peonies. The rare, dark red Intersectional (Itoh) peony Chief Black Hawk is blooming, as are so many of the other Intersectional peonies. They are a cross between a tree peony and herbaceous/bush peony and have serrated foliage and flowers reminiscent of their tree peony parent. They are outstanding landscape peonies.  

The iris garden is more colorful each day with the bearded and Siberian iris – the coming week will be spectacular for iris lovers.

Today was a whirlwind of activity on the farm, with lots of peony bouquets and plants being purchased for Mothers Day gifts and for our gardening customers. We will have a great assortment of peony bouquets for Mothers Day and the weeks to come.  Cut peonies are $2.00 per stem or 6/$10.00.  Many of the potted peonies are blooming and you can also see the peony flowers blooming in the field, to help make your selections.

The past few days we’ve enjoyed seeing and visiting with many of our regular customers and we’ve met many new customers. Thank you so much for making Brooks Gardens a must-see destination for peonies and iris. I know many of you aren’t sure what you’ll see as you drive down our ½ mile Topaz Street (Brooks/Salem, Oregon) for the first time. Your smiles and elated comments tell us its pure pleasure to your eyes. We appreciate your fine comments and the fact that so many of you bring friends on your return visits.

Find us on  Facebook  - I try to squeeze in a post now and then to show a few flowers that are blooming.

Hope you all have a great day!

May 7, 2013

Some of the peonies that have opened in the past few days: Al’s Choice, Bartzella, Callie’s Memory, Command Performance, Dainty Lass, Garden Peace, Joker, Lemon Chiffon, White Sands and White Innocence are opening now, in addition to the varieties that have opened in the past two weeks. There are now so many opening, it is hard for me to list them all.  Pictured here are Abalone Pearl, Callie's Memory and Lemon Chiffon. They are looking spectacular today. Beautiful weather at the peony farm today!


Our Brooks Gardens peony farm and iris gardens open May 1st for the 2013 bloom season.  We have more peonies blooming this year during opening week compared to previous years. The warmer spring we've enjoyed is producing some beautiful flowers, with some full/double varieties opening a week or more early (Red Charm). The Coral Charms are not far behind.

The peonies that are in bloom today include: Athena, Campagna, Double Fernleaf, Honor, Little Red Gem, Rosea Plena, Roy Pherson's Best Yellow, Rubra Plena, Salmon Dream, Serenade and Silver Dawn Mix. The tree peonies in the gardens are coming on and are as magnificent as always. Iris are starting to bloom as well.

We'll have ample cut flowers, peony bouquets and potted peonies to start the season off. You can also order peony root stock for fall planting. The potted peonies can be transplanted now or in the fall.  Lots of budded pots, ready to bloom for you this spring. 

Here's how the 'Wisteria Gone Wild' and 'Leda' tree peony are looking today - come on out and take a look!


Peonies are sprouting now!

The peonies here in Oregon are sprouting like crazy – a few early varieties are over a foot tall, while late varieties are just barely poking through the soil.  I love the look of the new, tender leaves on peony plants.  Get’s me excitedly anticipating the arrival of bloom season in May. 

We have some Paeonia tenuifolia ‘rubra plena’ (dainty, finely cut fern leaf peony plants) that are budded and could be our earliest bloomers in the next couple of weeks.  A couple of ‘Athena’ peony buds are showing a sliver of color; but, I have seen peonies sit like that for weeks if the weather is cool. Generally our Paeonia mlokosewitschii species peonies bloom around April 15th, so I gage their blooming to get an indication of where we are with each springs’ growing season.  One year everything was growing fabulously and then just stalled for several weeks because it was so cool. 

Now is a good time to fertilize your peonies in the northwest, if you haven’t already done so. If you are still winter-cold in your area, you may need to wait a few weeks.  Remember – fertilizer is not always needed on garden peonies – if you have been raising them without fertilizer and are getting a good result, that’s terrific.  Other folks fertilize each year, depending upon their soil nutrients. We have some information on fertilizing under our 'Planting & Care of Peonies' tab on the website.

We usually don’t have a shortage of slugs in this part of the country; they can find peonies, iris and other plants appetizing, so keep an eye out and control them early if that is a problem for you.  In wet springs, spraying peonies with a fungicide labeled for peonies will keep leaf spot (botrytis) at bay – follow the label recommendations for application rates and how often to spray.  There are a number of fungicides, including organic fungicides to select from.  Then, watch those peonies grow.

These photos show the various colors of new growth on different peony varieties: P. tenuifolia ‘rubra plena’ - the fine fern leaf peony; the green and bronze leaves on Sugar ‘n Spice peony; and the reddish sprouts of Chief Black Hawk (Intersectional) peony. Photos taken today.

Paeonia tenuifolia rubra plena buds        Chief Black Hawk peony sprouts

Brooks Gardens

August 9, 2012

We have raised peonies commercially for nearly 12 years and have had perhaps 5 different varieties produce a beautiful blossom or two in July or August. It is a fluke, not something to expect of a peony plant.

Today is August 9th and my husband announced that a Callie’s Memory intersectional peony plant in a two gallon nursery pot is sporting a full bloom. Spectacular! If we could only figure out what produces the re-bloom, a whole new peony market would evolve.

Last summer we had a Coral Charm in the peony field re-bloom in late July.  A few of our garden tree peonies have also sported a mid-summer blossom or two over the years.  On the rare occasions this has happened, each blossom was fully developed and as beautiful as a peony in May/June.

Too bad we don’t have two different varieties reblooming at the same time – for a hybridizing challenge.  It would be so cool to have a few peony varieties that would consistently bloom in the heat of summer. For now, we will settle for enjoying the rare treat when it occurs.


July 25, 2012

To keep your peony plants looking great through the summer and fall, clip off tattered leaves and stems. Be sure to take a look at the bottom of the bush and check to see if slugs are hiding in the shade of the stems.

A good drink of water every couple of weeks and they’ll be showing their fall colors in style come September and October. This summer has been plenty hot in most of the states, so an occasional deep watering will be welcome, whereas other years you may have a few good rainfalls and not need to water your established peony plants.

Remember – a potted peony plant needs more frequent watering.

Some folks like to give a bit of fertilizer after bloom season and others never fertilize their peonies in the summer. Some soils are richer in nutrients than others, so feel free to see what works best with your plants in your garden.

I’m already thinking about new varieties we’ll be planting this fall. Gardening & farming bring out my anticipation of nurturing and growing something that will bring joy down the road. I’m scoping out where I want to add peonies in our garden this fall – some of the shrubs will just have to go!


While peonies are rather drought tolerant plants once established, it is important to give new peony transplants and 1 - 2  year old peony plants a good drink of water to keep them from drying out (frequency depends upon your soil and weather conditions). Older plants will benefit from an occasional watering, especially in the heat many of you are experiencing.

Now is the time to dead-head your peony plants, if you haven't done so already. Simply cut the dried-up flower head off of the stem, an inch or two below the flower head. It cleans up your plants for summer and helps tidy up your garden. Be sure to toss the spent petals and flower heads in the garbage, rather than composting them. This helps keep a healthier peony garden.

You can also let some of the peony flowers form seed pods, by not dead-heading. If a seed pod develops, it may produce viable seed. The seed pods generally start to crack open in late August, revealing their seeds. Peony seed pods can also be very beautiful. Not all varieties produce seed, but if they do, you can experiment with growing new plants from seed - perhaps gaining a new peony variety if the seed was cross pollinated.

Keep cool,