Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Fragrant Peony Bouquets ...

Late this afternoon, Fernymoss took a few shots of the peony bouquets now gracing and fragrancing our dining room ... these particular flowers escaped being beaten into messy submission by our recent heavy rains because we cut most of the open blooms Saturday night before another round of heavy rain roared through. The ones still left on the bushes, however, didn't fare so well ... but there are still quite a few unopened buds on the plants, so I'm hoping we'll get a second wave (even if sparse) of blooms yet this week.

Currently, we only have two varieties of peonies blooming, and we're really not exactly sure what cultivars we have. The red ones I bought about eight years ago as three very small plants at Osco for $5 each and the only information provided was "French Peony -- Double Red." They weren't exactly stellar plants at the time, but as Peony growers know, it's extremely rare to get blooms the first year anyway, so patience and a more long-term view are essential.

I have tentatively identified the pink variety as (Paeonia lactifolia 'Sarah Bernhardt'), though with the myriad of Peony cultivars out there, it could be just about anything. We just refer to them as "Elaine's Peonies," in gratitude to the friend who originally gave them to us back in 1999. Whatever they are, they bloom in promiscuous abandon every year, with the bushes literally covered in fragrant blossoms. Of course they smell wonderful and are just downright gorgeous (well, aren't most peonies?) and don't mind being photo subjects! Unfortunately, they're usually the first to 'go to ground' after a heavy rain, so we try to cut as many before that comes ... well that is, if we have advance warning! After last week's multiple rounds of severe storms, we weren't taking any chances ... they're that precious to us!

Back in May we bought three new bushes to add to the Peony family here, Paeonia lactifolia 'Karl Rosenfeld,' which we found at a garden center on sale for $9.95, which if you've ever purchased Peonies, you'll recognize as a great value. These new members are very sturdy, healthy, and poised to take off ... in fact it was the healthiness of the plants that made us snap up three while we were there. We're also in the market for a Tree Peony and are on the lookout locally for a potential specimen, but we did some preliminary research at Van Bourgondien, and selected one of the varieties they offer, Rimpoh. Unless we happen upon something even lovelier here locally, we'll probably be ordering this cultivar this summer. I know it might be a bit of a wait to see it bloom, but as with all Peonies, it's worth the time invested to be regaled by their wonderful blooms in late Spring!

With any luck, a few will still be around when the Dragon Arum opens in another couple of days! If it's not open tomorrow, we'll get another shot of the now 2 ft + unopened bloom stalk, which is plumping up daily and already showing the telltale deep red stripe along the edges, its prelude to opening up and liberating the peculiar stench it emits that attracts flies by the droves! If you recall having seen its first bloom last year, you'll understand why this is such an eagerly anticipated garden event here at Casa IVG. And with any luck (e.g. NO rain) tomorrow, we're going to be planting the 'Voodoo Lily' (Sauromatum venosum) that my sister so generously shared with us. Of course we don't expect it to bloom this year, but given the Dragon Arum's affinity for where it's planted, this one won't be too far away from it. Something to look forward to next year ... along with the Karl Rosenfeld Peonies also slated to go in this week!

UGH ... I saw this coming on the radar, but didn't want to believe it ... we're getting another round of thunderstorms, but at least it looks like they'll be brief this time around ... still, we'd like to dry out just a bit here ... please?


Annie in Austin said...

Hi Iowa Victory Gardener,

I saw your comment about MMGD's peonies, and came over to see yours. That's a perfect vase to hold those lavish blooms...they look wonderful!

I don't know if it would be useful to you, but last May I posted about an old technique for stretching out the peony bloom season through short term cold storage. It's here if you're interested.

I hope the rain gives you a break and takes a turn for Austin instead!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Family Man said...

Hiya IVG

Those are very very pretty and you actually have them where I like to see them the most. In a vase and away from somewhere that has to be weeded. :)

Hope you and Fernymoss are doing well.

boran2 said...

I'm jealous of that bouquets. Those are beautiful flowers. Stay dry, IVG.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Annie! Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you'll make it a habit (I'm going to be going by your place regularly now ... such a great blog!)

Your post about prolonging bloom time was eye opening, and I bet that's what florists do to keep them around, but I had never heard of it before. We just accept Peonies' short bloom time and enjoy them while we can! In fact, I was out this evening for a while weeding and found that many more have opened since the last rains (last night), so I'm going to cut a lot more tomorrow before the next round rolls in.

Believe me, if I could rig up a cosmic funnel and direct it your way, you'd be having rain coming your way tomorrow night and Thurs!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey there FM! I've missed you coming by the past several months, and am glad you're sort of "back in the groove." As for weeding, peonies really aren't a problem because they so totally own their space that nothing else can compete around them. As for the rest of the garden though, it's a total weedy disaster right now because we've only been getting maybe 1-2 dry days a week, and those don't often coincide with our days off. After weeding a bit tonight, I decided that I have to make myself go out for at least an hour every night after work to get caught up on the weeds and get the new plants in the ground. At least almost all of our veggies are in now, whew.

Great to see you again, my friend! Stay cool down there and take care of yourself and FMom!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Howdy B2! No need to be jealous ... we like to share, even if it's only virtually. Of course you miss the fragrance, but I haven't figured out to get Blogger to work in smellovision!

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

How beautiful your Peonies look together. I love the crimson with pink. I'm going to do a very bad thing here & tell you to look at the Tree Peony listings at Khlem's Song Sparrow nursery & Cricket Hill (both online). They have the most stunning Tree Peonies. And then there are the Intersectional Peonies, which are even better (and even more expensive)!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi MMD ... that's not a bad thing to remind me of the Klehm nursery! In fact, thanks for jogging my memory about them ... Back when I was teaching at New College in FL, I knew one of the Klehm sons (Ken) quite well. Though somehow I suspect he's probably not involved w/the family business, lol.

Definitely going to head over there as soon as I have tonight's post up! Thanks again, MMD...

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