New Haven (WTNH) - Mar Jennings joined us again on Good Morning Connecticut Weekendto talk about the star of his garden: the peony.
The following was written by Mar Jennings:
My peonies in my garden are out of control and I love it! Myhome has probably been the most photographed and filmed home inFairfield County, and my peonies have served as an inspiration forall who have visited Rosebrook Gardens over the years. Thisspectacular display only comes once a year but it's so worth thewait.
That said, peonies originated in Asia, and have been cultivatedin both Japan and China for several centuries and is China'snational flower, where it has also had major influence indecorative patterns for the home and wardrobe.
Peonies are an early groundbreaker, producing reddish shoots asearly as April in the Northern Hemisphere. They are a tall plant,ranging from 1-5 ft in height and their branching stems produceglossy deep green leaves that taper to a point on each end, eachleaf growing up to 5 inches in length.
There are literally hundreds of varieties that have beendeveloped over the centuries, and yet most peonies share both acommon origin and fairly similar characteristics. Most of thevarieties of peony today are hybrids of the two original species ofthis plant: Paeonia officinalis and Paeonia lactiflora, the secondone also know as the tree peony which differs slightly inappearance.
So what makes my peonies' growth and show of flowers soawesome?
To achieve the best flowers, plant them in full sun. Althoughthey will tolerate some light afternoon shade, go with more lightthan less. Peonies are easy to grow, as they are not hard to pleasewith soil conditions, but will always benefit from a little organicmaterial and compost when they are planted. They are hardy fromzone 8 to zone 2 making them perfect for many of us.
The most popular is the Paeonia officinalis species, often seenin gardens and used as an ornamental flower. This species producescreeping roots that help to spread the plant giving it a lush busheffect.
But there are many options: Double peonies are more fragrantthan singles, pinks and whites tend to be more fragrant than thereds.
At Rosebrook Gardens, my collection of Festive Maxima and EdulisSuperba offer a powerful kick to the garden and anyone in thevicinity. They are mind-blowing to look at and so fragrant that onecan't help but stop, pause and smell these flowers. Although theirseason as a garden flower is rather short - three to six weeks -this all adds to their stunning allure and beauty.
The best time to plant peonies and find the best deals are inearly fall when the flowers are spent and the nurseries are lookingto reduce their inventory. I always find September to October thebest time to find the deals and plant new. This is true for mostplants, as it gives them the much-needed time to become establishedcome winter and allowing them to go dormant to rest for theseason.
How else to get more from each plant? You want to make sure youremove the flowers as soon as they fade to prevent seeddevelopment, as this will effect next year's bloom if left on theplant. Wait till late fall to cut back foliage to three inchesabove the ground level. In the event you need to transplant ordivide your peonies do this only when established. Peonies do notneed dividing for ten to fifteen years so this offers you manyyears of enjoyment with no real work required on your part.
This year I did something new when I tied them back by using abeautiful nylon ribbon, adding a splash of color and a creativealterative to garden twine. The lavender tieback helps each plantand flower stay upright and supported, resisting breaking.
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