Farm News

May 16, 2013

A couple of days ago while I slipped away from the farm to run errands, my sister Annie and daughter Monica got to have all the fun of greeting & meeting people, cutting peony flowers and selling plants. Mom (Delma) was here, too.  A visitor stopped by and painted a beautiful miniature water-color of some of the flowers in the garden. She then gifted it to Mom – how sweet is that?

Artists occasionally set up their easel in the gardens or field and paint – it’s always a treat to watch them work and to see their beautiful creations.  I have trouble drawing a recognizable ‘stick figure’, so am captivated by their talent. 

The peonies are coming into peak bloom in the coming week or so.  The cool weather will be keeping the late varieties at bay for awhile, so there should be plenty of bloom through May and early June. Lots of the blush and white peonies are opening and ‘White Cap’ peony with its rose fragrance is captivating.

Janice Person, a farm blogger, happened by our farm last weekend and posted this on her blog:   Wow! We appreciate it.

Today we enjoyed the pleasure of a visit from Al Rogers and his daughter Robin. Al and his late wife Dot farmed peonies in Sherwood, Oregon for over 20 years and Al wrote the Timber Press book ‘Peonies’.  It is our favorite peony book. We shared a few laughs and some peony conversation. 

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.  We are a short 35-40 minute drive south of Portland, Oregon. 

May 13, 2013

What a delightful day Mother’s Day was at Brooks Gardens. My Mom comes out to the farm most days to greet customers and enjoys the camaraderie that goes on. Lot of folks came out to enjoy looking at the flowers and join in the fun of a visit to the country.

The day was splendid with lots of peony and iris bloom for Mother’s Day visitors. You see, sense and hear the joy and excitement of people as they view the fields and gardens and spot yet another of their favorites. 

When you have a seasonal business, such as a flower farm, you are always thinking of new marketing strategies. One of our daughter’s and a niece rented a table at a community college ‘spring faire’ last week. They excitedly anticipated selling bouquets. Well, as some great ideas go, this one just didn’t pan out. Tucked in a back room, they had virtually no foot traffic, and very little sales in 4-5 hours. Then they did what many an entrepreneur would do - they gave away their product. One bouquet went to the elderly couple at the restaurant they had lunch in. Another went to the restaurant. One was dropped off at a business. Some of the folks they offered a free bouquet to, were weary of accepting something from a stranger; so, they carefully placed a few on car windshields. Each had a business card attached. The girls felt a bit defeated; but, happy to share the flowers.

Yesterday, my sister Annie spotted a couple from her church and went to greet them. They were surprised to see her, as they didn’t know of her connection to our farm.  They shared their story of how they came to find us and it just warmed our hearts. Her friends’ son had found a bouquet on his car and gave it to his mom, who put in a vase to enjoy. She stopped by to visit and asked where she got those beautiful peonies. Her friend handed her our card that the girls left with the flowers. She just had to drive out to see this peony farm. The story made us all smile. Then another lady came and mentioned one of the businesses she stopped at earlier in the week had a gorgeous bouquet of peonies and our card…. the girls were successful in their endeavor; just not as they had originally planned. You go, girls!

We sell wrapped peony bouquets, ready to go; and also have a big tub of cut peonies that customers can select from to create their own bouquet. Seeing their thrill in selecting the perfect flowers is priceless.

We will be enjoying this cooler weather – come by and join us!  We have tremendous bloom this week.

Attached are some photos from Mother’s Day: Bob peony; Strawberry Wine peony; some of our potted peonies that are for sale at Brooks Gardens and a photo of some of the field peonies.  'Bob' peony is one of our favorites and it honored us 'Best in Show/Grand Champion' awards at the 2011 American Peony Society floral exhibit.

Brooks Gardens is an Oregon peony farm located just north of Salem, Oregon; one mile north of Brooks, Oregon off of 99E; just 35-40 minutes south of Portland, Oregon.  I-5 exit 263, east to Brooks. 

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.