July 25, 2017

Flower of the week from YOUR garden to YOUR table 6th – 12th June.

Herbaceous perennials are the group of plants that die down completely in the winter but their rhizomes or bulbs stay in the soil and surprise us with a new flush of leaves and flowers next summer.  Quite a few perennials have reached their flowering stage by the second week in June, but few can surpass the elegance and beauty of the peony. With its large and vibrant coloured flowers it can be crowned as the queen of perennials. As a cut flower they are usually only available in specialized florists and are rather expensive – therefore the best way to have them in your home is to grow them yourself!

Botanical  Name:  Paeonia  .    Common Name :  Peony

The peony has two main flowering shapes: there is the double variety with a rosette of many ruffled petals, and a single variety with a few large petals surrounding a small central rosette. The latter tend to be smaller in overall size but the plant will usually be covered in bloom whilst with the double variety each individual flower is larger but there are not so many blooms per plant.

Most gardeners tie a string around the plant and hold it  up with a few bamboo sticks at approx. 45cm. above the ground,  this helps to keep the flowers  from blowing over in the wind as they often get top heavy. It also will keep the plant tidy through the summer,  otherwise,  the plant begins to sprawl in all directions and can look untidy, especially after flowering.

 

An interesting part of this flower,  is the way they die, the petals don’t wither on the stem like other flowers, instead they just give up! You will come down one morning and see all the petals have just fallen straight beneath the flower stem –part of the joy of a peonies in a vase is to see this happening!  Warning! Clear the petals of the table if you have children that are likely to taste them, as if they are ingested the flowers and leaves can cause mild stomach upset (as do many other plants).

There is also a tree peony which is a shrub that can grow up to 5ft . I once had two of them and was expecting a tree covered in bloom, but they died on me before they reached the flowering stage – they are available from specialist nurseries and are relatively expensive , but since they seem to need winter  protection  I would leave them as a ‘Don’t Buy’.

Buying and Planting guide:

The most common and economical way of buying this plant is to buy a bare root at the beginning of spring and plant it in good garden soil enriched with compost, the advice for peonies is don’t bury them as they don’t like more than 3cm. of soil on top of their roots. Ready potted are also available all year round. It grows best in full sun but will tolerate some shade.  Once planted as a bare root it will take a few years to flower profusely but I think it is worth the wait for this voluptuous display! Expert advice is to leave these plants alone as they don’t like disturbance, even to divide the clumps to increase your stock is frowned upon as this can cause the plants to die.  If you were to ask –  how do the nurseries manage to split their clumps and sell them – the answer will be that the nurserymen are specialists and they know how to do it. !  So I would say- call yourself a specialist and give it a try if you wish!


 

Money saving tip:

Garden Centres are desperate to empty their shelves of summer flowering bulbs, before they are past their sell by date, many are reduced  by up to 70%, I picked a bag of dahlia tubers reduced from £5.99 to £1.79 and a net of gladioli reduced from £4.99 to £1.49 !

But beware: When buying lily bulbs ensure that the bulbs have not dried out and are not flaky and brittle, also when buying dahlia tubers ensure that a piece of last years stem is attached to the tuber otherwise they will not grow.

If you live near a Notcutts Garden Centre they have a half price sale on YEOMAN  cutting tools, Yeoman tools are always a best buy and at half price you can’t go wrong!

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Enjoy your gardening week!

Boris Legarni.

 Next week :  Plant Out, Now or Never!

 

About The Author

Profile photo of Boris Legarni

Boris inherited his green fingers from his mother, who was still planting potatoes and rhubarb in the sixties as she was afraid that they would once again be rationed. As a teenager he used to plant radishes in the corner of the school garden and sell them during break time for sixpence, to give his classmates a healthy crunchy snack. He and his wife both have had an allotment for years, but there is no competition – he does the planting and she does the harvesting and cooking. With a passion for growing anything edible, Boris has planted dozens of named fruit trees in his orchard. Nevertheless he is an avid flower arranger, and assists local communities and charities with his flower arrangements. Boris tells us that after so many years on the allotment he has made all the mistakes possible, and he will share with you his practice to make yours perfect!

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3 Comments

  1. Profile photo of FusciaHeaven
    FusciaHeaven

    Well here is some conflicting advice http://www.theenglishgarden.co.uk/expert-advice/gardeners-tips/3-rules-growing-perfect-peonies/

    “While we are talking about peonies lets dispel another myth, that peonies don’t like being moved. Subject to rule number 1 above, carefully lift peonies in the autumn and replant or divide them (remember to keep 3-5 buds on each bit of root that you divide and if you are planting them in a container, don’t overwater them). It’s as easy as that, honestly, there is no magic to it”

    Then again as you say this comes from a nurseryman specialist! 🙂

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