Sunday, 22 May 2011

22.05. Peonies galore

Hello, some photos from my garden for you :-)
First a series of photos of a plant I had actually given up ever seeing again in flower…had actually planned to dig it up this autumn if it didn’t flower this year either as I was fed up waiting for something that never happened…and lo and behold, it is now flowering!

Let me explain: ever had a peony in your garden? Or heard how fuzzy peonies can be? Well, I have heard that too, never move a peony once it is established, or it won’t flower the next year. It’s just that there was a peony here in my garden when I moved in 10 years ago, in the shady border, not exactly the best place for it, and it only had one or two flowers every year the first few years. So I decided to plant lilies in that area, and move the peony over to the sunny side. Yes, I know…you are not supposed to move them…they sulk and they don’t flower the next year, but I thought it would be worth it, even if it wouldn’t flower the next year. So I moved the whole plant and waited with anticipation for next year’s flowering – which didn’t materialise.

I moved the peony back in autumn 2007, so in spring 2008 I wasn’t surprised when all I got was loads of green leaves. But the following spring, in 2009, I thought the sulking had gone on for more than long enough – although the peony obviously didn’t share my view; it didn’t produce a single flower that year either! Spring 2010 came and went without a flower too, and that’s when I started thinking that this plant was heading for the Newham garden waste recycling soon! Luckily I gave it one more chance, cause see what it has produced this year! Aren’t they gorgeous? 

I must admit, the scent is not to my liking, it is a sickly-sweet scent with something rather sharp smelling mixed into it, but it doesn’t bother me because the scent is not very strong, you really have to stick your nose right into the flowers to smell the scent.

Peonies are named after Paeon (also spelled Paean), a student of Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine and healing. Asclepius became jealous of his pupil; Zeus saved Paeon from the wrath of Asclepius by turning him into the peony flower. 

Often, when we see pictures of huge, beautiful flowers in books, we assume they come from the tropics. Happily, Mother Nature made an exception with peony plants. Cold hardy enough to survive in Canada and Scandinavia, peony flowers needn't take a backseat to any tropical bloom. Nor have people failed to notice the exceptional nature of this flower. For hundreds of years, long before garden catalogues, from one corner of the globe to another, peony plants have been grown and admired. In China, they were even priced for their medicinal qualities. E.g., white peony root was used to treat liver problems. 

The Greeks and Romans also found medicinal uses for peonies. However, in excessive doses, all parts of peony plants are poisonous.

As if stunning beauty and heady fragrance weren't enough, peony plants are also exceedingly long-lived. Peony plants are unlike many other perennials, in that they do not need to be divided on a regular basis. In fact, they dislike being disturbed – as mine did, but what a display it made when it finally flowered! I have only ever had 3 flowers at once before, and then usually one large and two smaller. This year I have counted 12 flowers in total, although they are not all as big and some have yet to open. (Click on each photo to open a larger version, click on the back-button to get back here.)

More photos? The Rhododendron is still going strong, looking even better than last time I posted a photo of it, here it is in full glory, with most of the buds fully opened. This is one of a series of seven ‘Dwarf Yakushimanum hybrid rhododendron’ known as the Seven Dwarfs (although ‘Happy’ is actually named ‘Hoppy’). Mine is Dopey, a bright red rhododendron with the typical trumpet shaped flowers. The plant is evergreen, which makes me appreciate it even more; keeping the garden green all year round.

I keep my rhododendron in a tub; if it had been planted in the ground this year it could possibly have grown a bit faster and become a bit bigger eventually. The full, mature size for this dwarf rhododendron is around 2 metre in height and the same in width. But because it is kept in a tub it won’t reach full size and will slow down growth from now on, but that won’t harm this plant, it has very shallow roots and as long as it is watered enough it won’t complain in this relatively small sized tub.

And finally; one picture from each of my gardens? Here is the garden next door, the fence got last coat  of stain on last panel this afternoon, after this photo was taken….although I still have some more fences to stain on the other side, which I didn’t do earlier on when I did that side. I have left it to a later date, as it isn’t next to any of the flowerbeds. Now I got some 50 plants to get in the ground….and 150 kg of bark to spread….One thing at the time :-)

And here is my garden, quite lush and enclosed by now! And everything is so early!! I can’t remember ever having all the roses out before June, but they are all flowering now, all 8 roses. I have got another 2 roses this year; one can never have too many roses, right?! I got them as freebies when ordering plants online, I hope they will do better than those I got last year…only one out of three took, the other two died during the autumn. OK, so they were free, but they should still fulfil the same quality requirements I think, so let’s see if these, planted in the spring, do better! They are called ‘Queen Elizabeth’ and ‘Candy Stripe’. Both are scented, so I look forward to the scent more than the look, I think!

OK, that was a lot of photos for tonight, remember you can click on each photo to get a larger version - and enjoy the photos more :-) Better round up this post I think, more another day, until then, take care :-)

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