Saturday, February 28, 2009

Passionate about Peonies

Originally uploaded by thyme2003
This morning I counted 14 peony shoots off of 12 bulbs! Only 3 of the 12 bulbs actually have labels so most of these shoots are "unknown" varieties. The Karl Rosenfeld has 2 shoots and the Bowl of Beauty has 1. It's my 5th year trying to grow these things. I know, I'm stubborn.
The first 2 years nothing happened at all - the bare roots that I transplanted from Washington state just turned to white powder. Bad, very bad. Then I bought a bag of bare roots at Costco and those came up but immediately caught some kind of fungal bug and shriveled up. 

So went year 3. Last year, one set actually sent up 3 tentative branches and delivered one single petaled blossom. (Photo below) Whew!

This past fall, with renewed determination, I read exactly how to plant these according to the Bulbs, Corms and Tubers chapter in my 1947 edition of The Complete Book of Garden Magic (where I pressed the evidence of my complete lack of restraint with respect to this plant - the page of peonies from Territorial Seed catalog). I figure they probably know how to do this.

In the bottom half of the pot fill 20% manure, 3 handfuls wood ashes, 2 of course raw bone and 1 of lime to prepare the lower soil for future growth. In the top half, 1 handful bone meal, 1 of lime and 20% rotted peat. Check.

After planting them 2" deep I found out that for cold climates you should set the eyes 2" deep and for warmer (mine) only 1" deep. Uncheck.  We'll see what the balance holds.

The wife of a friend of my husband's turned me on to Gilbert H. Wild and Son - "America's Largest Grower of Daylilies, Iris and Peonies"...They list 47 varieties and have grown peonies for 124 years. I'm keeping them in mind for next year!

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