Tag Archives: perennials

white peony flowers

Peonies in July, But Not in My Yard

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….

peony in early spring
The Peony in Spring
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Pinky Winky Photos to Cheer Us in January

What better time to share my end-of-summer flower photography than in the freezing cold month of January?  I began this post back in September but got side-tracked.  So now I can post my photos of one of my favorite flowers.

I happen to love the bloom of the Pinky Winky shrub. The flower is so interesting with it’s combination of open and closed petals in colors that range from dark pink to white. The cone shape grows longer and longer as the coloring changes.

This perennial has consistently created the most blooms of all the types I grow. We’ve had a bit of a drought here in the northeastern US over the summer, but the plant never wilts. Bees love the flowers of the Pinky Winky too. For this reason it might be best planted away from sitting areas. I don’t mind bees, but some people like to avoid being near them. I feel good having such a lovely bee-feeder in my yard.

pink hydrangea
Pinky Winky Flower

I had a tree fall and get stuck up in neighboring trees and I had to have it taken down for safety reasons. It was near my driveway, and when the guys cut it and pulled it down, it landed partially on my Pinky Winky! A branch broke off, and a few flowers, but otherwise the perennial survived. This poor plant always seems to be in the wrong place.
hydrangea paniculata pinky winky
Now that summer is behind us and we’re in the midst of winter, it’s nice to be reminded of what waits for us in spring. Seeing the first green stems burst through the ground, and early flowering plants like the Lenton Rose, remind us of the big hydrangea blooms to come.

pink hydrangea macro

lavender purple phlox

Flowers Blooming in August in My New Hampshire Yard

tall phlox in pink
Pink Phlox

As summer is winding down, I am taking stock of the flowers in my yard that are blooming in August.  In fall, here in New England the tall phlox are looking lovely.  In my yard, dark and light pink blossoms brighten the landscape. I also have creeping phlox which blooms in Spring.

As for perennials, the Hostas are also blooming, the few I have that are growing well.  Some of them died due to the cold winter.

Hydrangeas:  The Pinky Winky shrub is full of white flowers, which will be turning pink sometime in the future.  The white Blushing Bride in the backyard has three big, white blooms, with a small bud just beginning.  Out front, the blue Endless Summer has only two small flowers, and one little bud.  The blue flowers are fading to light purple.  Click the link above to see recent pictures of my hydrangea shrubs.

Black-Eyed Susans are blooming everywhere.  They seem to be the brightest yellow flowers in yards right now.  I have two small plants, which I tend to forget about until August.

black eyed susan flower
Black-eyed Susan

Day Lilies are also still flowering.  I have 8 or 10 plants with peach colored flowers along the front.  All those plants came from one, single pot of day lilies I bought three years ago.  I divided the stalks, planted them, and then divided them again.  Lilies should be divided every so often.  My yellow Stella d’oro lilies have gone by.

The annuals I plant each spring – Nasturtiums and Impatiens – are looking wonderful in August.  This year I planted the seeds from last year’s ‘Alaska’ nasturtium, and ended up with a beautiful and colorful border along the backyard.  All that color for free!  I love it.  Soon I’ll collect the seeds from these, and plant more next spring.

flowers of fall
Nasturtiums and Marigolds (and Skittle the Cat)

The marigolds are big and full, and still sending out new flowers.  Marigolds bloom more if they are dead-headed.

I have a volunteer Queen Annes Lace that is still blooming too.  I love these beautiful “weeds” with the big lacy flowers.  If they should happen to grow in your yard, I suggest you leave them alone and let them bloom where they grow.  Hopefully it will spread so I’ll have more of it next year.

Queen Annes Lace
Queen Annes Lace – A beautiful “weed”

The blue hydrangeas are turning pretty colors as Fall approaches here in New Hampshire. The petals begin to take on a pink, purple, and sometimes green, tint. It’s always fun to see how the flowers will fade.

blue hydrangea in fall
Blue Hydrangea Changing Color in Fall

Hydrangeas in My Yard: The Paniculatas

My last post was about the macrophylla varieties of hydrangeas growing in my yard. Those have big, rounded blooms and large leaves. This post contains pictures of my two types of paniculatas, which are hydrangeas with elongated type flowers.

In general I have found the paniculatas to be very easy to care for. They seldom droop in a drought, as the macrophyllas (Blushing Bride and Endless Summer) wilt quite easily in hot sun, and when they are dry.

The first photo is of the Limelight hydrangea. It was taken in August 2015, and as you can see it is not flowering, but it does have buds. The second photo is from last year at approximately the same time.  As you can see, this year I will not get the blooms like last year.  Again, I blame this on our incredibly horrible winter.  The extreme cold and piles of snow have done a number on just about everything in my yard.   Some of my Hostas never grew back, and the perennials I thought had died, are still living, but they are way behind on growth, like the hydrangeas.

limelight hydrangea shrub
Limelight Hydrangea – Aug. 10th, 2015
flowering limelight hydrangea
Limelight Hydrangea – August 20th, 2014

The last picture I have is of the Pinky Winky hydrangea. I have come to love this plant for it’s beautiful, long-lasting blooms. It is also a very easy plant to grow. Plant it and forget it.
pinky winky hydrangea
Unfortunately, I could have chosen a better spot for this one to grow. Without a lot of yard space, I thought it would have plenty of room to expand next to the garage. Then the snow came and my plow guy pushed loads of snow over the poor thing. It came back and grew fine.
This year I had to have a broken tree taken down, and as the tree-cutters brought the big beech down, the branches landed on my Pinky Winky. It was enough to break one of the main, low branches. I will have to cut it, as it’s split. I want to wait until the blooms go by.

Pinky Winky 8/20/14
One year ago – Pinky Winky, August 20th, 2014

The only problem I have with this one is that the deer eat it – see how lopsided it is in the photo above?  There is a big deer population around my house and they come up from the woods at the side of the house to check the yard for dinner.  After they munch on my rhododendron, they chew down the stalks of the hydrangea. It’s the only hydrangea they eat, and I think it’s placed just right (or wrong).
So between the broken branches and deer trimming, I may not get to see this perennial grow too large before I move, but it’s still beautiful.

This is the only hydrangea that doesn’t seem to have been bothered as much by the extremely cold winter.  I would love to have more Pinky Winky hydrangeas in my yard.