When I first moved to Florida back in 1979, one flowering shrub I missed was my favorite – the Peony. My grandmother had them in her Massachusetts garden around her old white farmhouse, and the huge blooms impressed me as a child. The fluffiness of the blooms were like none I’d seen, and the peony instantly became my favorite flower.
This page contains my photos of the peonies I planted and tended for the five years I lived in my New Hampshire house. They bloomed in July, so I thought I’d treat myself to a trip back in time, when I could walk into my yard and see these beautiful blooms. I wonder if the new homeowners are enjoying them today.
I live in Florida for 27 years, without growing any peonies in my landscape. I had everything else a southern gardener could grow. I had white and yellow jasmine along my fence. Camellias of all colors grew under the shade of the big live oaks in my 2.5 acre yard. I had a magnolia tree, orange tree, gardenias, hibiscus, crotons, and bougainvillea, lots of crepe myrtle, a stag horn fern, and more that I can’t remember now. But peonies don’t grow in the deep south.
I really missed seeing peony flowers, and when I moved back to New England in 2005, I couldn’t wait to have some growing in my yard. Unfortunately, I ended up not having a yard of my own to plant them in until years later. But once I had my own home, I went out and bought a peony bush. I believe the Sarah Bernhardt (light pink flowering peony) was the first, and I can’t find a picture of that flower in my photos… but that one is my favorite. (I’ll keep looking for a picture!)
I don’t recall the name of this white flowering Peony. I always kept the name of the plant in the soil beneath the shrub so I could recall the name. I no longer live there, and I’ve forgotten.
I know that the bright pink flower, with the yellow center is the Karl Rosenfeld. It’s not as fluffy as the other types I grew, but it was unique.
Peony flowers don’t last long. I loved to photograph the buds too. If I missed a day or two, and didn’t go outside (due to weather) I could miss the prime blooming time!
Most of my peonies – 3 plants – grew along an old wooden fence near the driveway. The Karl Rosenfeld was planted out back. The front gardens, near the house got too much sun for growing peonies, so I reserved that area for sun-loving shrubs.
Peonies are easy to grow, but some years they don’t get many flowers. When they do bloom, ants can be found crawling all over the flowers. Usually a cage or holder of some kind is needed to keep the stems upright once they flower. It’s best to put the cage up and let the stems grow up through.
Viewing a sprouting peony in Spring, was just what I needed after a long cold winter! Here they come….