Plan Peony Plantings to Put Off Disappointment

Peony 'Pink Parasol Surprise'
It was only a matter of time. For years, I'd been delicately perched on the upside of odds that called for a downpour when the majority of my peonies were fully opened. This year it was payback.
I'd started out this morning with my new camera strapped to its tripod, ready to snap portraits of the lovelies I live for. It was cloudy -- the perfect condition to capture my peonies' elusive voluptuousness -- especially of the full doubles.

It turned into a wet, dramatic one-person triage. I pulled stakes from the less needy to prop up the heaviest flowers -- 'Chestine Gowdy' had just begun its amazing journey into the essence of peony-dom, a factor that will hopefully work in her favor. When tightly furled, peonies can't take on as much water as those whose petals have let their guard down in a tragedy of bad timing.

I snapped photos of the aftermath, taken several hours after the worst of the moisture-fueled carnage. Even 'Tom Cat', a Japanese form peony in the sunniest spot in the garden, succumbed to the overload.

Bent but not Broken

I'll have to wait til morning to see if its stems recover. It's possible.


Not faring as well were the old-fashioned blooms of 'Duchess de Nemours', a classic beauty with a purity only a white double could possess. Although the stems did not snap, they folded - a condition that  turns them irrevocably into cut flowers.

'Duchesse de Nemours', the epitome of white.

Not that there is anything wrong with cut flowers. A neighbor received a vase with several stems of the Duchess lording (or ladying) over other stems so shamed by the rain.

Luckily, I have others that have just begun to open that will recover and reward me with their beauty. If all goes well.

The lesson learned if there is one (and there always is), is that a peony-lover must plant a range of peonies that represent early, mid- and late-season varieties so there is always an up-and-comer tightly-furled to withstand a deluge not uncommon to a day in June. (Not that it makes it any less painful to experience peonies bent into submission.)

Sounding a positive note in this cautionary tale is keeping up the anticipation level by planning for the next bloom on the horizon. The best cure for a bad case of peony droop is more blooms. I've got lots to look forward to. As could anyone who plans for the next phase of garden excitement.

Keep all the balls in the air by checking out the latest blogs at You Can Grow That! It's a site full of positives, encouragement and virtual woogie-woogies (pronounced woo' jee woo' jee) for the misfortunes that can accompany any endeavor worth a shot.

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