Peonies forum: Garden Style Preference Based on Peony Blooms 2015

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Name: Liz Best
Elizabeth Colorado (Zone 4b)
Peonies Winter Sowing Dahlias Region: Colorado Plant and/or Seed Trader Enjoys or suffers cold winters
Hummingbirder Cat Lover Lilies Daylilies Dog Lover Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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LizinElizabeth
Apr 26, 2015 7:10 AM CST
I almost put this post under Peony Blooms 2015 but thought better of it, would rather leave that one for beautiful pictures and everyone's reaction to them! Here we go:

So, for April we have what appears from the pictures to be two completely different gardening styles.
We have Jerry and graycrna4u who seem from the pictures to have masses of peony only beds. This style is absolutely stunning--when they're blooming it's almost overwhelming to see that many peonies at one time. I walked through a few huge peony gardens last year that were in that style and it is absolutely beautiful, certainly focus on the peony and all of the different varieties that way.
Then we have the style epitomized by Dianne and Annette with mixed plantings including quite a few peonies. Their combinations of plants is a very good example of doing this style of gardening correctly and I think that's an important factor--do it wrong and the focus on the jarring contrasts overshadows the beautiful flowers. Annette, you say you're a haphazard gardener. I say if you're haphazard then haphazard is my newest goal! Seriously, it normally takes quite a bit of planning and tweaking to get this right.
I don't have a huge preference for either style, actually think there is a place in my yard for both. I'd like to do a peony walk that includes my favorite peonies, maybe in 2 relatively short columns with a walkway in between so the focus is on the peonies only. And I'm already working on mass plantings where there is a combination of peonies and other flowers, mainly perennial, some that bloom with the peonies. I'll freely admit my combos are not as pretty yet as Dianne's and Annette's but I'm working on it! After seeing Annette's pictures this spring I'm going to find a way to work clematis into my garden, even if I have to put lattices up behind certain plants to give them area to climb (don't have fencing around most of my peonies).
What do all of you think? Do you have a marked preference for either style? Why? Did anyone/place/thing inspire your preference? My grandma had both types of beds. Mrs. Daisy Morgan (grandma to me) had a strictly practical side that materialized in an acre vegetable garden that fed several families, mine included. She canned and preserved anything not eaten fresh so prolifically that there was a huge pantry full of her jellies, jams, pickles and other goodies left when she passed away. Her plum jelly tasted better than any variety or brand that I've ever had and I remember my little brother as a child eating her bread and butter pickles by the gallon jar! She also took pride in her flower gardens though and worked on them continuously. Her gardens pretty much filled her yard and were full of anything she could find. She acquired plants pretty much everywhere she went and they all seemed to prosper under her care, regardless of whether they were supposed to survive in her growing zone! She was the primary gardener that inspired me so my lack of clear preference is a direct result of her influence. I think of her now and laugh--she would've loved the internet! She would've kept PawPaw running back and forth to the post office with all of her plant trades!
Let's discuss the topic! I'm stuck indoors today; we have rain pouring down and probably will for the next 18 hours so I'm bored. Anyone else out there want to play?
Liz
Name: Karen
Southeast PA (Zone 6b)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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kousa
Apr 26, 2015 9:23 AM CST
Wow, I have to think about this. All of the styles sound good. When I started gardening, all I aim is to find a location that the plants would be happy at and not give much thought to design or grouping or combining plants for special effects. Though after seeing Dianne's and Annette's garden pictures, I sure wish my flower beds and borders look that nice. It is something i have to learn. Liz, your grandma Daisy sounds like a dear and lovely person. I bet she had a super green thumb.

graycrna4u
Apr 26, 2015 4:12 PM CST
The premise is interesting indeed. I only show pictures of peonies be it herbaceous, itoh, and/or tree, because this is the peony forum. I also grow clematis (scented varieties only), tulips, day lilies, camelias, hydrangeas, rhododendrons, dahlias, gardenias, rose of sharon, an herb garden, and my own vegetables. I am just in the process of combining different plants in with my peonies. But peonies are my passion. Right now, each set of flowers has its own space.
Name: Annette
Duluth, Ga (Zone 7a)
Charter ATP Member Birds Tropicals Hummingbirder Bulbs Region: Georgia
Lilies Irises Peonies Clematis Plumerias Roses
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Cem9165
Apr 26, 2015 7:06 PM CST
Liz and Karen, thank you for your kind comments.

I like a mixed garden, and I have been working on adding plants that will give blooms through spring, summer and fall to all of my beds

Peony plants are in all of my back beds. My oldest bed has peonies, roses, irises, daylilies, baptista, Shasta daises, spring blooming bulbs, and echinacea. There may be a few more plants that I'm not remembering.

I added 2 new beds for peonies in the spring of 2011, that have clematis climbing the fence, asiatic, LA, trumpet, oriental, and tiger lilies, and bearded irises within the bed, and I have the daylilies at the edge of the beds. Spring blooming bulbs are also planted there.

My newest bed, created last spring, has peonies, clematis, roses, echinacea, and spring blooming bulbs.

This year, I'm adding a lot of dahlias, which will give some blooms into the fall. I'm also looking at where plants can be moved, to give better color echoes, a concept discussed in a thread started by pirl (Arlene) last year.
"Aspire to inspire before you expire"

author unknown
Name: Liz Best
Elizabeth Colorado (Zone 4b)
Peonies Winter Sowing Dahlias Region: Colorado Plant and/or Seed Trader Enjoys or suffers cold winters
Hummingbirder Cat Lover Lilies Daylilies Dog Lover Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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LizinElizabeth
Apr 26, 2015 8:15 PM CST
I'm with you, graycrna4u, peonies are the one flower I can't walk by without stopping to admire! I do like other flowers but I find myself thinking of how they'll look next to my peonies when I buy them! I also tend to post pictures of close-ups of my peonies when they bloom so anyone looking at most of my pics would assume I have peony only beds. I actually grow a lot of daylilies, really like the spider and more unusual bloom shapes. I'm starting to get into irises and absolutely love penstemons and agastaches because they start blooming early summer and go until frost. I have quite a few spring bulbs but that is more a frustration in feeding the deer than a pleasure! Joe Pye weed is another one that I like a lot, I have a large standard and a chocolate one with white blooms. I'm trying to grow goatsbeard--funny some say it's next to invasive but it's not gotten even large enough to bloom in the 3 years I've had mine. I still struggle to grow astilbe, too--it's really too dry here for it to do well, though. I have 40 or more varieties of lilies and plant out gladioli early May, coming up soon. That's the only one that I dig and replant every year, think it looks really pretty next to the peony foliage when it blooms. I planted some roses last spring but don't have a lot of faith that they'll come back this year since I'm hopeless at growing them!
Annette, I must've missed the color echo thread. I saw the term when you mentioned it in another post and was wondering what it was! Would you explain? Or direct me to the thread you mentioned?
And Karen, Grandma had the greenest thumb of anyone I know! I don't think she ever saw a peony; growing up in lower Arkansas then living in central Texas they weren't common at all. I know she would've loved them if she'd seen them, though.
Liz
Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
Peonies Ponds Dahlias Canning and food preservation Lilies Permaculture
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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Oberon46
Apr 26, 2015 9:18 PM CST
About the only thing I pay attention to is sufficient light and spacing. Tall in the back, short in front. lol. My garden is a jumble and always changing as things thrive or fail. Sometimes I move things and either do it not very carefully or they just don't like their new home - failure. This spring two types of lilies that should have been fine rotted. Drat. I have two of one kind that survived and none of the other but I scattered the 'leaves' of the bulbs in hopes that some had enough life left to grow.

I also try to plant things that will span the short summer from early peonies to late dahlias. I plant some annuals and have tons of poppies (I have collected enough seeds to cover Alaska); hate to let those seed pods go to waste. Mostly somniferum (sp). Keep trying for other types like Icelandic which of course grow well here along with meconopsis (Blue, yellow, lavender and trying for white.)

I will post as things unfurl in the peony department. I do have a couple of tree peonies. Had two beauties a couple of years ago that finally bloomed and were eaten by mice the following winter. I could have cried. I had visions of such beauty for that spring.
"What a person needs in gardening is a cast iron back with a hinge in it" Charles Dudley Warner (spelling edited by Dinu lol)
Name: Annette
Duluth, Ga (Zone 7a)
Charter ATP Member Birds Tropicals Hummingbirder Bulbs Region: Georgia
Lilies Irises Peonies Clematis Plumerias Roses
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Cem9165
Apr 26, 2015 10:07 PM CST
Liz, here is the link to the Color Echoes thread on the Perennials forum. It's an interesting concept. I also need to work on leaf textures and colors that complement each other.

The thread "Color Echoes, anyone?" in Perennials forum
"Aspire to inspire before you expire"

author unknown
Name: Liz Best
Elizabeth Colorado (Zone 4b)
Peonies Winter Sowing Dahlias Region: Colorado Plant and/or Seed Trader Enjoys or suffers cold winters
Hummingbirder Cat Lover Lilies Daylilies Dog Lover Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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LizinElizabeth
Apr 27, 2015 3:55 PM CST
Thanks, Annette! I haven't visited the Perennials Forum in a while, looks like I've been missing a lot! I'm going to read through that entire string and find that book, the few pictures I saw (only went through the 1st 3 pages so far) absolutely demonstrate that concept.
Liz
Toronto, Ontario (Zone 5b)
Peonies Roses Clematis Native Plants and Wildflowers Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Bee Lover
Cat Lover Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Enjoys or suffers cold winters Garden Ideas: Level 1 Region: Canadian Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Jasmin
Apr 27, 2015 6:48 PM CST
Liz, here is one peony walk for your inspiration (scroll down a bit):

http://peonysenvy.com/peonycare.html#type

My five cents, if you have enough space, go for both. Smiling

I always wanted a TP walk, but my place is so small, than I cannot have it. Since I am into TPs, I noticed that there are several styles of peony gardens; Japanese, Chinese... Americans have their preferences too. They even prune them differently.
"Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better."~Albert Einstein
Name: Liz Best
Elizabeth Colorado (Zone 4b)
Peonies Winter Sowing Dahlias Region: Colorado Plant and/or Seed Trader Enjoys or suffers cold winters
Hummingbirder Cat Lover Lilies Daylilies Dog Lover Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
LizinElizabeth
Apr 27, 2015 8:42 PM CST
You're right, Jasmin--that is an AMAZING peony walk! Can you imagine how many peonies and years went into the making of that lane??
I don't think I've ever ordered from Peonys Envy, have you?
Liz
Toronto, Ontario (Zone 5b)
Peonies Roses Clematis Native Plants and Wildflowers Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Bee Lover
Cat Lover Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Enjoys or suffers cold winters Garden Ideas: Level 1 Region: Canadian Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Jasmin
Apr 27, 2015 9:18 PM CST
I think I called them when I was looking for Rockii, but they did not export to Canada. Similalry, the owner of the Peony Farm did not want to ship to Canada, although I begged her. At the end, I ordered from Cricket Hill Garden, and I was very happy. I ordered two plants. One of the plants has never taken off. It is still alive, but very, very small. One of these days I will call them to let them know.


"Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better."~Albert Einstein
[Last edited by Jasmin - Apr 27, 2015 9:41 PM (+)]
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Name: Liz Best
Elizabeth Colorado (Zone 4b)
Peonies Winter Sowing Dahlias Region: Colorado Plant and/or Seed Trader Enjoys or suffers cold winters
Hummingbirder Cat Lover Lilies Daylilies Dog Lover Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
LizinElizabeth
Apr 28, 2015 9:03 PM CST
Isn't that ridiculous, Jasmin? It's not like it's a different continent or anything! I've ordered from a couple of Canadian growers that aren't as crazy expensive shipping as others and have been very happy with the roots I got. How come a few can make it work but not all, and not both directions???
Liz

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