Thursday, 20 June 2013

My Peonies

Just a little update on my peonies, as on my last post on the 15th they had just started to open up, now after a few days with quite warm weather they have opened up very quickly and I thought I would post some photos when they are at their best. Peonies don’t last very long, especially not in hot weather so it is a matter of enjoying them while they are here, it is a whole year till next time :-)

This peony is an inherited one, it came with the house and I have no idea how old it is or what it is called. I must have looked at hundreds of photos on the Internet to try to find out what type it is but just as with my camellia it has proved to be very difficult. None of the photos I have seen matches completely with colour and shape of both flowers and foliage. It looks very much like Sarah Bernhard on many photos, but I have also seen it much darker pink than mine so....I don’t know. They are the grand old ladies of my garden, the peony and the camellia, they could be up to 50-55 years old for all I know, that’s when these back gardens where made, or they can be as young as around 30 years old but probably not much less.
As always, click on the photos to get a larger version, so worth it :-)












I only have one peony bush in my garden but I kind of have one next door too! When I did up the garden next door 2 years ago I mostly used plants from my own garden, like cuttings and divisions and plants I had not room for in my own garden, and I had a peony in a pot I had bought in ASDA as a tiny root which had not yet flowered. It came up every year but was not a particularly big plant after 4 years. It almost went in the compost bin for not flowering but I had a space for it next door so that’s where it ended up. This week, after 2 years in the ground it flowered for the first time, with 5 beautiful flowers. The photo below is at a bit funny angle as I am leaning over the fence to take it! If you haven't read the story about how and why I did up the garden next door, HERE IS A LINK to the story. If you have a look at this post from 2 years ago I have to tell you that the garden next door sadly doesn't look like in the pictures anymore. The neighbour I did up the garden for died and there are now new tenants here that has rippet out lots of the plants and doesn't take care of the rest. I have offered to help them but they don't seem interested so it's not much I can do. But the peony has done well without any care so it's great to see :-)




One of the peony flowers up close. I don’t have a name for it, as it was only labelled red peony. I would not call this colour red, but that’s what you often get with flowers – a lot of plants are called red when they are not exactly red.


And now an update on my new garden project. Do you remember this photo from my last post? It is my son’s new garden and I have promised to try to make it useful and as low maintenance as possible for him and his girlfriend. First step was to actually find the garden among all the weeds.


I have found the garden, here it is! A complete blank canvas it turned out to be, I didn't find one single plant to save here, just old grass and some self seeded muscari bulbs.


Not very pretty at the moment, the grass needs a few days of rain so it can get growing and go green and it will look so much better in a couple of weeks time.

Not really finished in this direction, more weeds to clear...


I have filled 9 bags of grass and weeds so far. Soon I will start planning what to fill the garden with. My son wants AstroTurf and a no maintenance garden, his girlfriend wants lots of flowers but also no maintenance, none of them knows a thing about gardening, plants, watering, weeding or keeping garden pests at bay. And I am not planning on coming here to take care of it once it is finished, I might do the occasional pruning, but the rest will be up to them. I need to do some serious thinking before I start putting anything into this garden :-)

The nice weather will be staying with us, just interrupted with some useful rain now and then the next couple of days, but the temperatures seems to be falling again. Just as well, it was really too hot to do any work in the garden yesterday. Until next time, take care.

66 comments:

  1. Hi Helene.... your peonies are indeed beautiful! Most of my herbaceous and all tree peonies are spent. I did a post yesterday that includes the intersectionals... I updated this morning as the Bartzellas were much nicer today. Been shoveling mulch for three and a half hours so taking some time off to ice my back... wish I could go longer but the years are catching up with me! Take care, Larry

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    1. Thanks Larry, I do wish they would last a bit longer, but they are lovely when they are here. If I could find room for one I would really like to have a tree peony too, but that means taking out one of the roses and I don’t think I could bear that! Good luck with the mulching, it is back breaking, I know!

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  2. Glorious peonies Helene! They are such beautiful flowers that it's a shame they don't last longer. Wow, your son's garden sounds like a challenge. Low maintenance but with lots of flowers seems like a pretty tall order. AstroTurf for your son and perhaps beds of silk flowers for his girlfriend. The only maintenance would be hosing the whole thing down once a year.

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    1. I have actually thought of artificial flowers! There are so many that looks great, although the fade very quickly in the sun so I doubt they would last more than a season. A more lasting thing I have thought of would be to use pieces of garden art in between evergreen plants, and I am not talking about statues and gnomes! More like things with colourful pieces of glass and such, and although there are lots of lovely things to buy I think I would have to make it as the budget is next to nothing, so we’ll see what I can come up with. I am sure I can manage to sneak in a few flowers too that won’t need much maintenance anyway!

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  3. You were right about enlarging the photos. I clicked on the first one, and then looked at them all before coming back to the post. Peonies are so beautiful, and it's sad that the bloom time is so short. I'm glad your reddish one bloomed.

    Have fun thinking of what to do at your son's place. I think I forgot to thank you for telling me how long to keep comfrey in the water to use it for fertilizer. If it takes that long, I may just put it on the compost pile. I'm needing some green stuff on there, anyway. I haven't cut it back yet, because I'm still seeing bees on the few blooms that are left.

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    1. Making your own fertiliser requires a secluded corner where you can hide it, it is smelly! And since it takes a month to ferment I have opted out, my garden is too small for such a stink bomb :-)

      I am afraid I will be stuck with most of the work in their garden so the no/low maintenance is good for me too!

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  4. Your peonies are lovely, such a pity they show their beauty so short. The garden of your son, does remember me to my daughter's garden. It was totally paved when she moved to her new place. I made a design and together we worked it out. It looks nice now, but she is most of the time working abroad and I do the maintenance..........And every year I say, this is the last time.

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    1. My son and his girlfriend has left design and everything to me, they really don’t know much about gardening or what to think about to make a garden work for them. When the garden is cleared I will let them use it for a while so they can decide where they want seating area etc. and then I need to sit down with them and make a few decisions, the rest will be up to me I guess :-)

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  5. Your pink Peony is simply sensational. It's so beautiful. I also love the colour of the Peony you planted next door. What a shame your efforts over there are not appreciated.

    Your new project at your son's home is getting off to a great start. A blank slate ... how exciting. Keep up posted on the progress.

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    1. I try not to look next door, it is too sad to see what’s happened to the lovely garden I made two years ago. When I was working on it we removed one fence panel and I could go in and out as I wanted so I felt like I had twice the size garden. But when the tenant died and new people moved in, the fence was put back again and I had no longer access to maintain it.

      I will post about my son’s garden when there is more news, I will be clearing weeds and preparing the ground for a long time as I can’t do much at the time and only a couple of days per week. But there’s no deadline, it will be ready when its ready :-)

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  6. Oh, a piece of bare ground, how exciting! Now you can fill it with plants!

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    1. I will, just not sure what yet :-)

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  7. Oh! the peonies -- stunning, gorgeous...not enough words to describe your white with pink touch peony. I wish you knew it's name. Does it smell as beautiful as it looks?

    Please record whatever plants you are putting in your son's garden; I need it :-)

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    1. It smells very sweet, a bit too sweet I think, very nice on a distance but a bit sickly-sweet if you stick your nose completely into one of them!

      I will make a list of plants I put in when it is finished, it will probably be mostly evergreens.

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  8. Helene, I'm so so so excited to see what you will do for your son's garden. I have just finished designing a nearly-no-maintenance garden for some friends, too.

    As for your peonies, they are divinely beautiful. Such gorgeous lusciousness -- too bad they don't have a longer season. Your pale pink variety reminds me of Festiva Maxima, one of the few that will actually bloom in Southern California. FM is white, of course, but has those little specks of dark red. I mostly grow them for their pretty foliage that seem to last all summer.

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    1. I am still pondering about my son’s garden, I can’t too much heavy digging so it will also be about my limits – and what my son will be able to contribute of work. Not looking forward to removing all that old lawn!

      The foliage of my peonies last until frost so when the flowers are gone it is just a nice green bush.

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  9. Beautiful peonies! Your light pink one is just other-worldly. Peonies are tough survivors - I'm sure your neighbor's one will live despite neglect. If only you could secretly throw some compost over the fence for it when they are not looking :-)

    Can't wait to hear your ideas for your brother's patch!

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    1. I do secretly throw slug pellets now and then over the fence and I have ‘accidentally’ sprayed for scales over at their sides when I sprayed at my side as they don’t do any of these things. Now that the peony is flowering I might throw over a bit of fertiliser once it is finished flowering. I don’t think the neighbours would mind this kind of help if they knew I was doing it, it’s just easier just doing it than ask for permission every time.

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  10. Lovely peonies ... and what an exciting new project. Your son is really lucky to have a gardener in the family.

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    1. Well, my son is lucky I don’t consider gardening work, I actually like doing it and find it fun and interesting, although the 3 days I spent clearing the garden was pretty exhausting so the rest of the week I have had to take it easy and do very little. I will be back next week to do some more clearing out. Lots more to do before the fun bit starts :-)

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  11. I was going to say Sarah Bernhard--I think that's the one I have and the flowers look very much like yours. Except yours has a lot more blooms! I think mine is a wee bit too shaded. Peonies are heavenly, and I'm sad that mine are done. Enjoy the blank slate garden!

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    1. Mine didn’t flower much the first few years I was here either, it was at the bottom of my garden on my shady side, and I finally took the plunge and moved it up to my sunny side. It sulked for 4 years before it flowered again and I almost gave up the whole plant but look at it now! It really was worth moving it :-)

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  12. Nice, the weather is getting lovely in your place!
    I love veeeery much your pink peonies!
    I think you have to decide what will the garden style be in your son's place. If they want no maintenance, so I advice:
    ---the gravel garden
    ---no lawn
    ---to plant very close to the weeds couldn't grow strongly
    ---only select perennial plants with attractive foliage and flowers
    Have a nice weekend!

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    1. We have already decided that the lawn will go eventually, perhaps not this summer but it will go! The question is what we put there instead. I also have started on a list of nice evergreen plants to put in so the garden will look nice in the winter too.
      Have a great Sunday!

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  13. I have a number of inherited no-name peonies as well. Your pink one is very much like one of the peonies in my garden. The deep rose one was well worth the wait.
    Too bad about the neglected garden next door. It must be a bit heartbreaking after all the work you did.
    So many bags of weeds from such a small garden! I would be tempted to get rid of the grass altogether and maybe do a central patio with garden all around. A wall fountain would be nice. Can't wait to see what you do Helene.

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    1. Yes, I try not to look at the next door garden, I still feel it’s kind of mine, as most of the plants there are from my garden, some are plants I grew from seeds and took care of for years.

      Ideally we would get a builder in and have a central patio with paving continuing from the paving already there, but their flat needs refurbishment in every room and there is really no money to spend on anything so the budget for the garden is ‘as little as possible’...I might have to come up with a cheap, temporary solution for now and then they can save up for something better for the future. The main point was for them to be able to use the garden at least.
      I will keep you all updated :-)

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  14. I read your blog on my phone last night at work but had to wait until I read on the laptop to thoroughly enjoy your peonies Helene! Gorgeous - my favourite blooms. My first has just flowered.
    What a lovely petite garden your son and GF have acquired. I'd tend too agree with loosing the lawn(???) - I await further updates!

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    1. The lawn will go, sooner or later, but probably not this summer. It is anyway easier to remove in the winter when it rains more as it easier to dig then. I suppose it is a question of money and how much work my son is able to put in, as removing the lawn will be too hard for me to do. The neighbours next door to them has exactly same space and they have paving slabs quite spaced out with pretty pieces of slate in between with flowerbeds all round on the edges. Looks nice and would be possible to keep clean and tidy.

      I have been outside today and the first peonies are off already. They really don’t last very long. It is a chilly 15 degrees and a strong wind and it rains every time I try to go outside. Typical!

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  15. Gorgeous peonies! Mine faded way too fast. Maybe your son needs spring bulbs and some flowering shrubs with fall foliage color. I'd get rid of all the grass, too.

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    1. I have started on a list of plants, mostly evergreen plants and some spring bulbs, so yes, quite right :-) The soil in his garden is very much like mine so I know what will grow well there, many of the same plants I have in my own garden will be suitable.

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  16. Your peonies are gorgeous Helene. The one I have always falls down because it always seems to be raining when she opens up her flower. This year I gave every flower a scruch so I hope she will do better. I am so currious to see what you are going to do with your sons garden.
    Have a wonderful summertime Helene.

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    1. My peonies gets very tall so I have to stake every single flower or else they will not only bend but do a complete u-bend down to the ground. I don’t like staking them as it shows in the photos but I don’t really have any choice. Last year the rain took my peonies and they all balled up, but this year they flowered beautifully despite a bit of rain. A few more days now and they will all be off and finished flowering, and it will be a whole year till next time. A long wait, but worth it :-)
      Have a great Sunday!

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  17. Hi Helene
    Your Peonies are just wonderful! I've heritated a peonie shrub too from the previous garden owners and as you I don't know the name of it. However I could send a Mail to Walter Good, he's a peonie specialist and I lately wrote a post about him. By the way you could find his Homepage and Mail-Adress in Google... maybe he could help you too in finding the name of your beauty.
    Well, there you've got quite a Project: low mentanance and flowers :o)? Hmm, there just comes Hydrangea in my mind. Have fun in creating a garden paradise.
    Take care
    Alex

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    1. Hi Alex, I found the website of Walter Good, I might contact them to see if they can identify my peony. Not sure if I will get an answer from them as I have tried writing emails like that in the past, but we’ll see, thanks for the tip!

      I think I will definitely want to put in a hydrangea, not sure if I can persuade my son to have one though, he wants no flowers the girlfriend wants lots of flowers!
      Have a great week!

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  18. My peonies didn't do well this year. It's nice to enjoy yours vicariously. The photos are lovely and it looks like you have a lady bug in the last photo of the pink one.

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    1. Enjoy them as much as you like :-)
      The first of the peonies are already off and I have just been outside picking petals all around the garden thanks to the strong wind we have today. Not sure where you see the ladybird, they haven’t arrived yet in my garden this year, wished they had, there is plenty of food for them, there are ample supplies of greenflies!

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  19. Die späten Pfingstrosen mit ihren Pastelltönen gefallen mir besonders gut. Wunderschöne Bilder!
    Gruß, Anette

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    1. Hallo Anette, und herzlich willkommen auf meinem Blog. Vielen Dank für Ihren freundlichen Kommentar.

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  20. You've inherited a beauty of a peony Helene. I think I have the exact same one in my garden, also inherited. If yours is anything like mine, it smells as good as it looks. It must be hard to see the plants in the garden next door be neglected and abandoned.

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    1. I think my peony is Sarah Bernhardt, although not certain, but I like to think of it as a Sarah Bernhardt :-) I know this particular peony was introduced in 1906, named after the French actress (1844 – 1923) so the one I have could be really old although you can still buy them today.

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  21. Your peonies are just gorgeous, Helen! I've never had peonies, but I want it. You must be tired to get rid of all weeds in your son's garden. But I'm excited to see how it'll improve!!

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    1. Thank you, peonies are short flowering but gorgeous. I am not sure how they will do in containers though but you can try! I am still clearing weeds in my son's garden, it's looking a lot better :-)

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  22. Your peonies are gorgeous. Too bad about the neighbors not caring at least the one plant has continued on.

    You have made a good bit of progress on your son's garden. Flowers and no maintenance? Perhaps a few containers of annuals around the patio and a row of evergreens on the fence might be the best start.

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    1. I have started compiling a list of suitable evergreens, it is quite long already! Not sure if annuals are the right thing for them, too much deadheading, but I think I might make them a container with an evergreen with a few artificial flowers, they just need a wash now and then :-)

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  23. Oh snap Helene, we have the same Paeony and it is indeed a Sarah Bernhardt. Mine is just 3 years old, but has bloomed spectacularly this year. I rather love the smell and wish it was closer to the house. I blogged photos today if you want to compare.

    What a shame your neighbours no longer care for their garden. My neighbours garden on the left hand side is atrocious, they just use it as a rubbish dump. Such a shame. I'm looking forward to seeing what you do with your sons garden. He's very lucky to have someone with your knowledge design it :-)

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    1. I have seen so many pictures of Sarah Bernhardt, and some of them have much darker flowers than me so I have wondered….but I guess it matters a bit how much sun they get. I had a look at your photos and they look very much like mine so I am going to continue to call mine Sarah Bernhardt :-)

      I also have a neighbour that uses his garden as a rubbish dump. Twelve years of living next door to all that rubbish has tested my patience! Some of the rubbish has been there all the time, some is being exchange for new now and then. I have offered to help the neighbour make a garden once it is cleared because he says he really would like to have a garden (like mine!!), but he never gets around to do anything about the rubbish. And those on the other side, the garden I did up 2 years ago is just sad to look at, with all the plants from my garden, not much I can do about it when they don’t want to receive any help. I did up the garden for the tenant who lived there previously, who was ill and could not take care of his garden, unfortunately he died 2 years ago, just when the garden was finished. Since then there has been first one family and now this family, both with some initial interest in the garden, ripping out plants and planting new things and then just losing interest and leaving it. Oh well, can’t do any more than offer help :-)

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  24. Two beautiful Peonies Helene, even the one at the non gardeners is flowering its head off in the hope it gets saved. Ah well, at least you can see your sons garden now, probably at this stage in their lives the simpler the better, makes you laugh doesn't it, create a beautiful garden with loads of flowers but I don't want to do any work, heard it all before.

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    1. Yep, I have too! I am still clearing out things, have resisted bringing a single plant into the garden yet. We have agreed that they will have the lawn for now, this year, and I will create flower beds on the sides and then next year we will decide on what to do with the lawn. It will have to be my son who is going to dig it up, regardless of what they decide to replace it with, as I can’t do that kind of work – I am not good at digging, especially not digging up turf, seriously hard work! So since it will be my son having to do it, it might take a long time to get it done as he currently works 6 days a week until 9 pm. But it will be good to get some plants in, that will be next step.

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  25. Helene, both of your peonies are very lovely! I am so enjoy seeing photos of peonies, since they don't grow here in Southern California. We simply don't have enough winter chill. You got a lot of work done in you son's garden. To design a low maintenance garden with AstroTurf and lots of flowers that is quite a challenge. I am curious to see how you solve the problem!
    Christina

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    1. Yes, I am pondering about it, I think it will be a project in stages and the artificial grass, if that's what they end up with, will be the last bit added to the garden, when everything else is done.

      Sorry to hear you can't grow peonies, they are so lovely even though they don't last for long.

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  26. Those peonies are so incredibly gorgeous! I love peonies. Very few take the heat of where I used to live, but now that I've moved up north, I plant to put some in! Good luck with your son's garden - I'm excited to see what you put in!

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    1. They should thrive well up north, there are so many to choose from, but for me peonies have to be double, the single ones are pretty but not really the real thing :-)

      I will post some more photos when I have something to show, it is a slow process in my son's garden!

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  27. They sound so awesome, but I am unable to view them. I tried in Google Chrome, IE and on my iPad...but to no avail. Perhaps there is a glitch somewhere in the internet ether. Next time I stop by, I will come back here to view them. My peonies have completed their blooming, so it would be nice to see these.

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    1. Not sure why you can't see my photos, everyone else seems to be able to see them so please come back again some time and have a look, I am sure it was just a temporary glitch.

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  28. Oh lucky you...a blank canvas to plot & plan.
    I have a client who has the most amazing, deepest purple / red peonies, about 6 of them in a long border. Poor woman was in hospital the week they flowered. Shame they go to all that effort for 1 week. Looking forward to seeing your son's garden develop. :-)

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    1. Thanks, I am actually surprised how long my peonies have flowered, 2 weeks now and still a few more to come. I have lost count now, I think I have had almost 50 flowers! Must be the fertilizer I gave it this spring, never use to do that but because of all the rain we had last year I gave all my plants slow release fertilizer this spring. I think I will do that next year too for the peony :-)

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  29. Ah-h, yes, it was temporary. Those peonies are gorgeous. I especially like the ones with that delicate pink hue. I have a few peonies that bloom in the front garden, and I have added some peonies to my butterfly garden, but they are still young. Perhaps next year I will see them bloom.

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    1. I think peonies can take 3-4 years to bloom, depends how mature plants or roots you got. But they are worth the wait :-)

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  30. Where art thou :-)? Your garden must be very busy now. Hope you are doing well.

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    1. I'm here :-)
      Just very busy. I hope to write a new post later this week.

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  31. What stunning peonies! That reminds me that it's time to go and raid my mum's garden and dig up some pieces of her peonies. I definitely need some more for spring! Good luck with your son's garden, it's always nice to have a new project.

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    1. Lucky you having a garden to raid! My son's garden looks a lot better already, the grass has started to go green.

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  32. Your light pink peonies are gorgeous. Isn't it amazing how long lived these plants are? We have some around 30 years old I believe, they are nothing short of spectacular. Awfully nice of you to help out with your son's yard, good question what to plant there though if they aren't all that interested in any upkeep.

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    1. I have started on a list of evergreen plants that needs very little or no maintenance and will probably sneak in just a few flowering plants that need very little care, like some hydrangeas and some bulbs. But they don't expect instant gardening, I have prepared them for stage one this year and then we can add more next year.

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  33. Love the peonies Helene!

    What fun to be able to start a new garden from scratch. Your son and his girlfriend are very lucky to have you helping them with this project!

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    1. Thanks, the funny thing is that they don't realise how much I enjoy doing it! I don't consider gardening work, I relax when I am doing gardening and it is great to start a new garden so in a way they are doing me a favour by letting me do it!

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