Month: April 2012

Voluptuous Peonies…in my Garden

Peoniesthey’re every gardener’s dream. Well, at least this gardener. They are more voluptuous than some of my roses and provide an old-fashioned charm to my garden. Bearing spectacular bowl-sized blooms, peonies can last 50 years or more in your garden. Having planted more than 50 peonies in my garden over the years, I think of planting one as a lifetime commitment.


Paeonia ‘Sarah Bernhardt’


Herbaceous vs. Tree vs. Intersectional

I. There are several different types of peonies. Herbaceous Peonies are the most well known type and I have several in my garden; Sarah Bernhardt, Bowl of Beauty, Festiva Maxima and Karl Rosenfield, just to name a few. Herbaceous peonies can be planted in both spring and fall. They need at least 5 hours of full sun with rich well-draining soil. Like most long-lived perennials it can take three years for them to bloom prolifically but they are well worth the wait. Herbaceous peonies require very little care and live for generations.


Paeonia ‘Paul M. Wild’- double ruby red blooms


Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’ -double pure white blooms


Paeonia ‘Bowl of Beauty’- fuchsia pink petals create a bowl around a pale yellow center.


Paeonia ‘Karl Rosenfield’


Paeonia ‘Jan Van Leeuwen’- single satinly-white blossoms with contrasting large yellow center


Paeonia ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ -huge, double pink blossoms. One of my favorites.


II.  Tree Peonies are woody perennial shrubs.  Tree peonies grow slowly, producing 1 to 6 inches of new growth each year. Given well-drained soil and dappled sunlight, they will live for centuries. I haven’t acquired any in my garden yet but I plan to in the future.


III. Intersectional Peonies, also know as Itoh Hybrids, are a hybrid produced by crossing a tree peony with an herbaceous peony. I came across this variety when a gardening friend of mine found them for half price (Itoh peonies can cost around $75-$100 @) and he picked me up several at a local nursery that was going out of business.  Itoh peonies produce tree peony flowers and leaves on plants that behave like herbaceous peonies, dying down to the ground in winter and reemerging each spring. A mature plant can produce 50 or more dinner-plate sized flowers on strong short stems that do not require staking, which is a plus if you having as many peonies as I do. Each plant can remain in bloom for 3-4 weeks with new buds continually opening over this period. My seven Itoh Peonies were spectacular this year considering I just planted them last fall. So far I am very impressed!

Keiko Itoh Peony


Paeonia (Itoh hybrid) ‘Pink Double Dandy’


Itoh peony which was unmarked when I bought it. It is a beauty though…go figure.



Since I garden in Zone 7b, Southerners can find it a bit tricky to grow peonies. But certain selections will tolerate our mild winters. The key to growing peonies successfully in the South is in the planting. The secret is to not plant the “eyes” of the peonies very deep. Peonies should be planted only 2 1/2 to 3 inches deep. Also, fall is the optimal planting time.

For arrangements, cut when the buds are just opening. Don’t cut full-bloom peonies, they won’t last long.

Peony arrangement from my garden..











The Old Rose Romance of the ‘Grande Dame’ in my garden…

If there is one rose that I will swoon over its the ‘Grande Dame’. This Hybrid Tea has big bountiful blossoms that remind me of some of the old romantic garden roses. Her huge blossoms just teases your nose to bury it in her fragrant double rose-pink blossoms.


My 'Grande Dame' bouquet




You can’t help but be drawn to this rose and it’s arresting fragrance. ‘Grande Dame’ is definitely a stately rose that demands attention.

And if that wasn’t enough to sway you, this rose is very vigorous in growth, has remarkable disease resistance, and is a good repeat bloomer. Oh, did I mention her blossoms look absolutely stunning in a vase….what else could you ask for!




Fill The Frame Friday

I’m participating in Chris VanCleaves’ –  Fill The Frame Friday’  at Celebrating Life & Roses  with this photo of the charming David Austin rose ‘Evelyn’.


David Austin rose- 'Evelyn'


The color ‘Orange Sorbet’ in my garden…Yum!

'Easy Does It' Floribunda Rose. 2010 AARS award winner.

 I Love the Orange Sorbet   color of my snapdragons in my garden this spring. This orange flower with pink hues compliments well with my Floribunda roses ‘Easy Does It ‘(blend of mango,peach & apricot) and ‘Vavoom’ (orange- juice orange).

Once the weather heats up these snapdragons will begin to fizzle and it will be time to replace them with summer flowering annuals. I definitely got alot of ‘flower power’ out of them though and they are deer-proof !


Snapdragons with Floribunda roses 'Easy Does It'.





Floribunda rose 'Vavoom'













The awakening of my Fringe Tree….

One of the finest  spring blooming trees in my landscape is the Fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus), a small tree that’s considered as one of the most beautiful native trees in the southeastern U.S.  During its peak ‘awakening’ the Fringe tree produces a beautiful and delicate visual impact in my garden for several weeks.


My fringe tree begins blooming roughly the same time as most of the dogwoods and azaleas in my garden.  Large, 4 to 8-inch-long loose clusters of lightly fragrant white flowers cover the fringe tree in spring for several weeks. The flowers have very narrow petals that give the appearance of pom-poms from a distance. It has a sweet fragrance that is potent but not overpowering.


Fringe tree has the nickname "Old-Mans Beard and "Grancy Greybeard".


It grows as a multi-stemmed tree in my garden eventually reaching around 20 feet.  Although, Fringe trees are adaptable and will grow in most soil types, they do prefer moist, deep, well-drained acidic soils. The ideal planting site would be morning/early afternoon sun (its location in my garden), but shade during the hot afternoon hours.


 The fringe tree makes an excellent specimen tree.

This tree will also draw birds to your garden, as they will eat the bluish-black fruit that develops during late summer.









The First Spring Rose Blooms in my garden…

   Having been busy in the garden these last few days planting more roses,  I was able to enjoy some of my first rose blooms this spring. The excitement of seeing those buds open to beauty and grace never gets old. I took a break from planting and was able to capture these first spring rose blooms in my garden…

‘Easy Does It’ Floribunda Rose. 2010 AARS award winner.


'Madame Alfred Carrie' Climbing Noisette. Fragrant. Full of buds and about to give a spectacular display.


"White Licorice' Floribunda rose. Fragrant


'Distant Drums' Shrub Rose


'Julia Child' Floribunda Rose


Reve d' Or' Climbing Noisette (1869). Earthkind Rose. Fragrant


Beautiful 'Don Juan' Climbing rose. Fragrant


Awaiting the debut of so many other rose blooms in my garden, I’m grateful for the ‘early birds’ that have given me the enthusiasm to continue planting more in the weeks to come….