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Oct 22, 2018 9:17 AM CST
Moderator
Name: Liz Best
Columbiana Alabama (Zone 8a)
Annuals Winter Sowing Plant and/or Seed Trader Peonies Lilies Irises
Hummingbirder Dragonflies Dog Lover Daylilies Bee Lover Birds
You all know the frustrations I've had over the last several years—very late snows (BLIZZARD on Mother's Day 2 years ago!!!) every year until 2018 and a massive hail storm this May. I've constantly complained and said I was putting up protection—this year I'm doing it! Already have 2 1/2 rows in place over the new beds and have created additional beds between those. Makes it a balancing act to get down the rows because my walkways went from around 6' wide to probably no more than 18" but...
So I got a pipe bender and have formed 40 row cover supports already. Will be making a trip to town to get another 35 pipes (using 1/2" metal electrical conduit) and rebar to stake the supports. I'll probably get at least another 20 supports in place today, hopefully more! The hard part is getting the rebar down far enough in the ground to hold....
Got some really heavy row cover cloth from Amazon. Ordered 2 13' x 100' rolls, that'll cover 3 of the full rows and have some left over. The rows are 50' long and I'm cutting/piecing them to have around 4-5' left over at each end to close them off. The rolls have been sitting on my front porch all summer, got it out and one opened yesterday and was pleasantly surprised at how strong it felt and the weight. Ordered 2 more last night so I can cover at least 6 full rows if needed. Also found some netting that's supposed to protect crops from birds/deer that I'll put in place beginning of May for all rows, hail should just bounce off of it but the 3/8" openings won't stop the rain from getting through or shade the plants much. I moved around 100 roots out of the bed that was impacted the most by the late cold to the newest beds plus all of the ones I got this fall are out there putting around half of my peonies together in a place that will be protected!
I'll take some pics this afternoon and add them here. Don't laugh at how twisted some of the earliest supports are—bending pipe into the proper shape takes practice!
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Oct 22, 2018 10:33 AM CST
Name: Craig
Fort Ann, NY (Zone 5a)
Dog Lover Hybridizer Region: New York Peonies Seed Starter
Sounds like a tremendously strenuous job Liz but I believe you have the right ideas. I certainly hope they withstand your weather conditions.
I can relate to the pipe bending portion of your project, I do it for a living! nodding
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Oct 22, 2018 2:48 PM CST
Moderator
Name: LG
Nashvillle (Zone 7b)
Butterflies Garden Photography Hostas Hummingbirder Peonies Region: Tennessee
Forum moderator
Good for you, Liz. It's a lot of work, but you have been cheated out of the results of your hard work for at least the last two years.

I really hope this works!!
Crossing Fingers! Thumbs up
LG - My garden grows with love and a lot of hard work.
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Oct 22, 2018 3:14 PM CST
Moderator
Name: Liz Best
Columbiana Alabama (Zone 8a)
Annuals Winter Sowing Plant and/or Seed Trader Peonies Lilies Irises
Hummingbirder Dragonflies Dog Lover Daylilies Bee Lover Birds
Thumb of 2018-10-22/LizinElizabeth/55f191
Thumb of 2018-10-22/LizinElizabeth/094922

You have my respect Craig—getting straight supports is NOT easy! Gave up pretty quick on the curved supports that were demonstrated to me by another gardening friend, need a lot more experience and coordination than I have or a 2nd person....
The first pic above is of the supports, 2nd is one of the row covers loosely spread over 1 row. That stuff is seriously thick, feels like a semi-light weight canvas. Didn't bother with the netting since it'll have to be attached to the supports with zip ties and they came in the right length but it's just a 7' wide by 50' long black netting with 3/8" holes
LizB
Last edited by LizinElizabeth Oct 22, 2018 3:19 PM Icon for preview
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Oct 22, 2018 4:10 PM CST
Name: Anya
Fairbanks, AK (Zone 3a)
Cat Lover
Liz, it looks like a peony farm! You made such a great job! Thumbs up Thumbs up Thumbs up I envy your energy! I am sure all peonies are in good hands and will thank you with a lot of gorgeous blooms!
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Oct 22, 2018 4:15 PM CST
Moderator
Name: LG
Nashvillle (Zone 7b)
Butterflies Garden Photography Hostas Hummingbirder Peonies Region: Tennessee
Forum moderator
Awesome job!!!!
How many peonies across are planted? Two or three?
LG - My garden grows with love and a lot of hard work.
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Oct 22, 2018 5:02 PM CST
Name: Frank Richards
Clinton, Michigan (Zone 5b)

Hydrangeas Peonies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Ideas: Master Level
I am impressed!
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Oct 22, 2018 6:19 PM CST
Name: oscar
beamsville Ontario canada (Zone 6a)
Bee Lover Region: Canadian Peonies Photo Contest Winner: 2017
Great job liz Great job.
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Oct 22, 2018 6:38 PM CST
Name: Jerry
Salem, IL
Charter ATP Member
The chore of bending the conduit can be lessened by bending smaller pieces with 1 bend and using the regular conduit couplers to hold the pieces into the desired shape. Don't know if the process would work well in your instance but it would be worth a trial.

Edit: Checked prices at Home Depot online and the ½" conduit couplers are slightly under $.30 each for a pack of 50. I suspect the price would increase slightly for in-store purchases.
Last edited by Oldgardenrose Oct 22, 2018 6:50 PM Icon for preview
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Oct 22, 2018 8:21 PM CST
Moderator
Name: Liz Best
Columbiana Alabama (Zone 8a)
Annuals Winter Sowing Plant and/or Seed Trader Peonies Lilies Irises
Hummingbirder Dragonflies Dog Lover Daylilies Bee Lover Birds
I got all of the pieces in place that I could today, need more rebar for staking. I have 15 more pieces to bend and I have around 8 that are ready but no anchors, think there will be around 75-80 total. Once I have up on the rounded shape and went for just 3 bends, a 90 degree in the middle and 45s on the legs, it was a lot easier! There is one tilled strip that I wanted to use to move some tps but chickened out, will probably pot them up and move them to AL next fall instead of transplanting twice.
Mieko, most of the beds have 3 across, there are a couple that only have 2. There are between 60 and 100 peonies in each bed. The beds are far too crowded but once we decided to retire to Alabama I decided to not put new beds in new areas, to restrict myself to planting closely in the existing beds and temp beds that I can just level out again once I move the plants. What was once wide walkways between beds will revert to wide walkways.

Thanks for all of the support and well wishes! REALLY hoping this will give me the control needed to have a good bloom season next year! I'm pretty sure that this is the last fall I'll be planting here, should have beds in AL by next planting season and should be dividing and moving roots from unprotected beds out of state.

Should be able to bend the last few pipes and get the rest in place next Saturday! I'll take a pic from my deck to finish out the thread for now so you all can see the entire project. Craig, don't know if you'll be able to see them but the bed nearest the house will have rounded pipe, 4 pieces that the guy who showed me how to use the tool made and 2 that I made. Mine are so misshapen!

This probably seems like overkill for just a few years before we move but I think I'll be reusing the supports to putt shade cloth out in the heat of the summer in AL. I plan to have garden rows to start, will keep my plants out of the building path and I'll make beds around the house with divisions in a few years. That'll give me time to put in hardscape and build up beds, might as well take my time and do it right! Might be able to reuse some of the cold protection for tropicals or I'll give it to one off the Rocky Mountain Gardening forum members in my last spring or fall trade with them.

So Craig, have you ever bent rebar? You've seen those cool peony supports Leena's group makes, right? Think I might attempt that next!
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Oct 22, 2018 8:45 PM CST
Name: Alex
Toronto, Ontario
Region: Canadian
Wow Liz, looks really professional !
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Oct 23, 2018 1:10 AM CST
Name: Anya
Fairbanks, AK (Zone 3a)
Cat Lover
Liz, where have you seen supports which Leena's group makes? I need to figure out how to support my peonies without poking the fabric.
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Oct 23, 2018 2:25 AM CST
Moderator
Name: LG
Nashvillle (Zone 7b)
Butterflies Garden Photography Hostas Hummingbirder Peonies Region: Tennessee
Forum moderator
Liz, thanks for this post explaining everything. I do think it's a good idea to take them to Alabama.

Anya, I put your name ( and Liz's) in the comments of the post on the Swedish Peony Society Page. Thumbs up
LG - My garden grows with love and a lot of hard work.
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Oct 23, 2018 3:21 AM CST
Name: Debra
Garland, TX (NE Dallas suburb) (Zone 8a)
Rescue dogs: Angels with paws needi
Dragonflies Dog Lover Bookworm I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Photography Bee Lover
Plays in the sandbox Butterflies Region: Texas Garden Sages I sent a postcard to Randy! Charter ATP Member
Thumbs up I tip my hat to you. Thumbs up
It’s okay to not know all the answers.
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Oct 23, 2018 5:23 AM CST
Name: Craig
Fort Ann, NY (Zone 5a)
Dog Lover Hybridizer Region: New York Peonies Seed Starter
Great job Liz! Very impressive for a first year apprentice.😉
It takes plenty of practice and several mistakes but it looks professional when you are done. In order to make hoop like bends, you need to make segment bends. Small increments of just a slight bend. It takes practice but once you have done several it goes easier. Rebar is tougher to bend and you won't be able to make sharp bends with your conduit bender. You would probably have to use a torch to heat up the metal for easier bending.
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Oct 23, 2018 6:07 AM CST
Moderator
Name: Liz Best
Columbiana Alabama (Zone 8a)
Annuals Winter Sowing Plant and/or Seed Trader Peonies Lilies Irises
Hummingbirder Dragonflies Dog Lover Daylilies Bee Lover Birds
Thanks Craig! The hardest part I thought for the smooth curve was not getting a spiral!!! Not that I kept the curve as smooth as I wanted to start with but keeping the pipe at exactly the same angle as I made the bends was pretty much impossible for me...hence when I laid the pipe down after the bend it didn't lay flat AT ALL!!! I found that if I made the middle bend first when I did just the 3 bends that I could hold the free end with one hand and pull on the pipe.bender handle with the other and could keep them straighter. Probably looked pretty silly doing it but probably not the worst I've looked in the garden....
Anya, the Leena group supports were to replace regular peony supports to keep them from bowing to the ground when blooming, I just thought theirs were the prettiest I've seen. I'm sure you could put cold protection over them as well before the peonies got tall and with the curved tops it wouldn't tear anything.
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Oct 23, 2018 7:26 AM CST
Name: Craig
Fort Ann, NY (Zone 5a)
Dog Lover Hybridizer Region: New York Peonies Seed Starter
Liz, sounds like you are getting the hang of it! It definitely takes plenty of practice and not a graceful technique. At least with half inch pipe, it is more flexible and you can make adjustments generally using some leverage. Good luck! 👍
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Oct 23, 2018 11:09 AM CST
Name: Karen
Southeast PA (Zone 6b)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Wow, you are amazing, Liz! I agree with Alex that your work looks like it's done by a professional! You sure are resourceful in facing the environmental challenges of growing peonies in your zone. I really admire your determination and hard work. Wish you could have done a video of this project and post on Youtube. I am sure many gardeners me included would find it very helpful.
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Oct 23, 2018 10:45 PM CST
Moderator
Name: Liz Best
Columbiana Alabama (Zone 8a)
Annuals Winter Sowing Plant and/or Seed Trader Peonies Lilies Irises
Hummingbirder Dragonflies Dog Lover Daylilies Bee Lover Birds
Thanks Craig! The hardest part I thought for the smooth curve was not getting a spiral!!! Not that I kept the curve as smooth as I wanted to start with but keeping the pipe at exactly the same angle as I made the bends was pretty much impossible for me...hence when I laid the pipe down after the bend it didn't lay flat AT ALL!!! I found that if I made the middle bend first when I did just the 3 bends that I could hold the free end with one hand and pull on the pipe.bender handle with the other and could keep them straighter. Probably looked pretty silly doing it but probably not the worst I've looked in the garden....
Anya, the Leena group supports were to replace regular peony supports to keep them from bowing to the ground when blooming, I just thought theirs were the prettiest I've seen. I'm sure you could put cold protection over them as well before the peonies got tall and with the curved tops it wouldn't tear anything.
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Oct 24, 2018 5:27 AM CST
Name: Craig
Fort Ann, NY (Zone 5a)
Dog Lover Hybridizer Region: New York Peonies Seed Starter
Liz, you did a great job! It is professional looking and should be very affective. Hope you get some great blooms next spring.

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