Peony Bloom Time Makes For Great Anticipations

The first coral varieties arrived around May 18, 2017.
My peonies bloom in stages, extending a beautiful sequence that I hate to see come to an end. I've been picking bouquets like crazy--practicing up for creating a few arrangements for a niece's wedding reception. I plan to buy peonies from growers in the Midwest, specialists who know how to condition and store peonies for later.  
Final bouquet June 8, 2015
Peonies in my garden will be finished blooming by then. I know because I've been keeping track of their first and last bloom dates since 2012, a pretty good prediction as I've only added a few varieties since that year.

There are a few very early varieties I've removed for their lack of stem strength, so my current earliest varieties are 'Coral Sunset' and 'Pink Hawaiian Coral'.
The last peonies to bloom in my garden include a mystery peony that was here when I moved in, and 'Ursa Major', 'Pink Derby' and 'Elsa Sass' (which I no longer have).

I usually put the last peonies blooming in a vase and snap their photos. Sometimes there are small flowers from those I don't disbud, including White Cap, Madame Ducel and 'Chestine Gowdy'. From 2013 through this year, my earliest blooms have arrived in late May; the latest usually three weeks later.
Peony 'Roselette' bloomed around May 15, 2015. Her stems were too weak for my garden.
Elsa Sass June 20, 2013

The sequence could be and has been longer, especially when I grew 'Roselette' and 'Roselette's Child', both of which bloomed by mid-May, and 'Elsa Sass', which often began blooming in mid-June.
Bloom times varied by a week or more from 2013 through 2016. This year, it's too early to know the date of the last blooms, and 2012 was an anomaly, with first blooms coming in April. Variations also occurred with newly-planted peonies and those that had not received enough sun in their previous year.

I really liked the white double variety, 'Elsa Sass' for its late arrival, but her location wasn't the best. It was a somewhat low area in my garden and one late spring "flood" was the last straw. It seems like I give peonies the heave ho in a cavalier fashion, getting rid of them for no good reason. I'll own the failure of 'Elsa Sass', but it turns out late varieties aren't the best choice for a climate that often turns horribly tropical by the second week of June.

Peony 'White Cap' puts on quite a show, with a sequence that include center and surrounding flowers.
One of the most fragrant in my garden is the Japanese form 'White Cap'. This variety has several flower buds per stem, the first to open in the center with surrounding buds opening sequentially after the center flower fades. This serves to extend the bloom and maintain its charm if you remove the central bud after it's gone. Otherwise, it detracts from the show, which includes smaller flowers.

The dates I track and keep a record of are guidelines, but have been accurate each year within a week. It's like getting a glimpse of a gift to extend the sense of anticipation. And for me, it's one of the best things about gardening.




1 comment:

  1. I always think I will keep records about flowers then I don't. Your collection of peonies are gorgeous. I don't have a place to plant them. Unless I do it out front. I don't like to work in the front garden so nothing gets planted there.

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