This is a photo of one of my peonies taken ten days ago. But after the hot spell we're having, they're now pretty well finished. I am excited to have a peony of my own again - and sad that it's already done. I blogged about peonies in 2005. Here is my partial post from then.
We do have a history, peonies and I. I had them in rose bowls as centerpieces for my wedding (and what a tense time that was – the spring of 1981, when we’d planned on peonies but the season was early).
Here are a few peony bits:
From my flower bible: The Flower Expert by D. G. Hessayon:
Paeonies are the aristocrats of the herbaceous perennial world. The flower stalks rise up above the attractive foliage and each one bears several blooms – blooms which make most other garden flower blush with shame.... (would you say he likes them?)
Regard paeonies as a long-term investment and learn the rules before you start planting. Choose an open, sunny spot but try to avoid a situation where early morning sun will shine on the plants. Early autumn is the best time for planting and the soil should be deeply dug and enriched with compost or leaf mould. Set the crown of the plant no lower than 1 inch below the soil surface. The main thing you then have to remember is to leave the plant alone – it may not flower in the first season and may not be properly established for three years..."
And from Lois Hole’s Perennial Favorites:
Don’t plant peonies near trees where they will have intense competition for nutrients and moisture. Also avoid low spots, where puddles form after a rainfall. Peonies will rot in wet soil.
Never add manure to the planting hole, as this results in weak, spindly growth.
Blooms cut at the loose bud stage will open and last twice as long as those cut when they are fully open. The best time to cut peony flowers is in the morning. They last about two weeks in a vase.
Peony petals retain their fragrance for a long time and thus make a good addition to potpourri.
They also dry well and can be added to arrangements of other dried everlastings.
Two of my favorite poets have written about peonies. This one is by Mary Oliver:
This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
to break my heart
as the sun rises,
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers
and they open-
pools of lace,
white and pink -
and all day the black ants climb over them...
and here is Jane Kenyon's (from her book Constance)
Peonies at Dusk
White peonies blooming along the porch
send out light
while the rest of the yard grows dim.
Outrageous flowers as big as human
heads! They're staggered
by their own luxuriance: I had
to prop them up with stakes and twine...
Read the rest