Who doesn't love a peony? Such a remarkable and gracious plant. Many live for fifty years or more -truly for generations. Countless stories are told of daughters and granddaughters (and maybe sons and grandsons) digging family peonies so they might be saved for even more generations. They make such a lasting impression even though they can be somewhat fleeting. What is it about them? Their soft colors? Their fragrance? The fact that so many people and families have them and have had them for, as I said, generations? Something about them always seems to conjure up memories. Such a wonderful floral inhabitant!
For those of you who visited the Farmers' markets in New Canaan, Greenfield Hill and Christie's Country Store in Westport this past weekend, ou saw firsthand some of the wonderful variety afforded by peonies. We brought with us several coral-colored beauties - truly eye-catching indeed - along with the very soft single pink blushes, the slightly deeper pink double varieties, our earliest whites, and the first of our crimson doubles. We will be sure to have more this coming weekend at each of our markets, and we'll be featuring them in our subscription bouquets. Because we grow several varieties, the length of time during which we have peonies in bloom is extended. Having said this, these babies sure were popping this past weekend in the heat wave! For us to pick each one at its peak, we become true peony stalkers. No kidding. Every few hours (that's over four times a day) we were out checking to see which ones were thinking about popping open, and which ones were not quite ready. If you turned your back for a moment, they seemed to spring open. Like that proverbial pot that never boils when you're keeping a watch on it but... you know the rest of the story!
ith such a gorgeous plant, and all of my aforementioned praise, you would think it difficult to have a related pet peeve, but I do. It is this: the most common comment I hear about peonies is how beautiful and fragrant they are (agreed) but the second most common comment I hear is, "My peonies were fine until the big rain storm we had, and then they just went 'kersplat.'" What I want everyone to know is that flowers will certainly lose their petals when it is time, but there are wonderful plant stakes, which will help keep your blooms upright and in tact, even in the face of heavy rains and you might not have to lose your flowers to the ground or as quickly as you might be losing them. Some of these devices are a combination of several stakes and hoops and encircle the entire plant (but put them on while the stems and leaves are coming up not after) and some are simply coated metal stakes with a slightly open loop at the top end, which makes staking super easy. This simple loop stake is perfect for encircling individual stalks with flowers, and this is all you need to do. Sometimes, in the wind, the stem will escape the loop, but, generally, the stakes work in such an easy and superb fashion that I see no reason for anyone to grow a peony without them. So, no more reason to bemoan the fact that the poor peony, with the large, beautiful flowerhead, doesn't seem capable of keeping itself upright in the face of heavy rains owing to its plethora of water-catching (did you say, "Sponge-like?") petals. For very few dollars, the problem is easily solved. Please, buy some stakes now, and be ready for next year! Yes, it is likely too late for this year.