Tuesday, May 15, 2007

My First Peony

My first peony! Well, actually, my first peony blossom. And oddly enough, it’s from the latest peonies I planted.

I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know what a peony was a few years ago. I was enlightened when my neighbor, Mary, rushed to the garden fence in May of 2005 with a fistful of blossoms in her hand. I was enraptured by the enormous, frilled, intensely hued flowers. She invited me to smell them and I buried my nose in the silken petals and inhaled a sweet rose-like fragrance. I was smitten, but completely unready to plant a peony of my own.

Two years ago, I had just begun gardening. I received a trunk-load of plants from my friend Patrick and had just started planting in the sun bed. I was fighting the first of many battles with our sticky clay soil and nursing along my first winter-sown plants. I was addicted to the Garden Web forums and delighted in soaking up every detail I could find on cottage gardening and perennials. By October, though, I was a veteran and when Margie gave me my first peony, I was thrilled! I imagined those luscious flowers would be mine, all mine!

I planted my first peony in the candy cane bed that fall. Early, the following spring, I added two Sarah Bernhardt peonies. May came, and nothing bloomed! My first peony and my second and third were total busts. I started to think I couldn’t get peonies to flower in my yard.

I was still willing to give it a go when, last fall, my friend Joy decided to remove the large peony patch from her front yard and replace them with knockout roses. For the price of my labor and advice, I took home five, very hearty divisions. (She had such a large patch that we probably ended up with 20 plants.) I planted the divisions in the pink and white bed. I wasn’t entirely sure they would flower there, because they only get morning sun. Still, in anticipation of the blossoms, I read an entire book on peonies while soaking in the hot tub in Gatlinburg last October. A girl can dream, can’t she?

This spring, I was excited to see buds on the new peonies AND the Sarahs. The new peonies, despite their shadier position, developed first and, as you can see, rewarded me with their first bloom on May 14th. It may be a week or more before the Sarah Bernhardt peonies bloom. And my first peony? It’s in its second spring and, still, no buds. The foliage is lovely, though.

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Blogger Zoey said...

It looks like the same one I have - Peony Festiva Maxima.

Mine took about 15 years to finally bloom!

2:21 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

Way to go! It is a lovely bloom ... I hope that your other peonies follow suit and start blooming as well. I don't think one can get enough of the peony scent. It is wonderful.

11:02 PM  
Blogger Gotta Garden said...

Aren't they just wonderful! Congrats on your first bloom and may there be many more!

6:24 AM  

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