Peony, on Sheer Neglect

Now is this a bright pink or what? I was given this peony and have no clue of the variety. It is not Bowl of Beauty, that I am aware. Too hot pink and the centers are really bright yellow. I even desaturated the image a touch because it was reverberating on screen.

If there ever was a plant that asks so little of a gardener, it is the peony. They live possibly to one hundred and fifty years and there are some on my block that have been here since the homes were built in the very early 1900’s, making them around one hundred years old.

Peony that is about ninety-five years old a few doors down.

We have residents on our street whose families have been here since the homes were constructed, some of their children have passed while other are in their nineties. And the peonies the parents planted do not look a day older than five.

These are the peonies that my ninety-three year old neighbor’s parents planted.

Peonies have been cultivated in China  for 2000 years. They admire the flowers but also use the roots for medicinal purpose and food. They have been cultivated in home gardens for about 600 years.

The little red pointed nubs on March 14, 2011.

Peonies main requirement is well-drained soil. The rest they leave up to Mother Nature. It is suggested to feed them and keep them well watered, but one resident only staked them in Spring. Never watered or fed them in the entire time I lived here. Every year they put on a beautiful display, ants and all. They are pictured above and they are not yet in bloom.

My peonies get quite a few Spring visitors themselves.

I have ‘Krinkled White’, a Japanese single.

I do very little to my peonies besides mulching with compost, staking and cutting back in Fall. They have been moved by redesign in the last four years to where you see them now.

They were happier and larger in their previous center-yard location, but have adapted without complaint. Maybe a little appreciative too, as this location is very rocky. Rocky terrain is where peonies originated.

I have them skirted with ‘Vision Light Pink’  and ‘Wargrave’ Geranium.

The geranium fills out the bottom of the peonies and helps a bit with support. In front you can see my lettuce. More on the in a future post.

The peonies enjoy lots of sunlight.

And so do the bees (if this is a bee and not a hoverfly, which I think it might be). Irregardless, is she not the tiniest and cutest?

And the wasp sure gets around. The white is the favorite though.

You will see more of my peonies for The Niagara Garden Magazine coming your way soon. We got heavy rain today and all my peonies closed up tight. The old red doubles above did not and are drooping a bit.

The wind blew back the geranium, but the peonies are still standing tall. You get a look at my lettuce. They look really small but are not, as it is the high angle I shot the photo.

I have been picking the Bib, leaf, and Romaine but the little heads are forming. The slugs prefer the head lettuce for some reason. The leaf lettuce and endive are in pots, or that would be nibbled. The trumpet vine was cut back extremely hard last Fall, or the wall would be covered by now.

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at:
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52 Responses to Peony, on Sheer Neglect

  1. Donna says:

    I love peonies as well and have them in part shade, sun, moist to dry with little staking, no feeding. They are finally growing in after several years…I still wish I had brought the old ones from the old house….those are my favorites…love the lettuce planting amongst the flowers…

    • I have them planted at one client’s in part shade and some years they do better by staying in flower longer. But they do try and stretch for the sun more than the others. I too wish I brought some from PA to NY. They were from my grandmother’s garden.

  2. Donna, I love peonies–they somehow remind me of my childhood–and they were one of the first plants I bought when we moved in here in 1983. Of course, I ended up with all the old-fashioned doubles that flop at the first rain even with peony hoops around them. Later I discovered that I really like the singles. My favorites are early-blooming ‘Coral Fay’ and red ‘America’. Carolyn

  3. Laurrie says:

    I do love those Japanese singles. Your white one is beautiful, and your shots, as always, are worth spending time over. My only peony is a red Japanese single ‘Blaze’ and it couldn’t be easier. I’m thinking now of adding ‘Krinkled White’.

    • Blaze is gorgeous. The color is so true and saturated. The whites I have is really very self sustaining. I only have a hoop around the middle of the group, and rarely are they ever flattened. That is why no doubles in my yard. I am lucky to remember to ever hoop them.

  4. One says:

    The shadow of the flying wasp fell directly on the white peony bud. That’s really special.

    This is an interesting teaser to your next issue of magazine.

  5. Oh my goodness! Donna, yesterday I was given a peony by a friend who brought it back for me from overseas. I’m totally delighted to have it and was busy researching peonies when I got the subscriber mail saying that you had posted this! How amazing that whilst I’m researching and trying to figure out where to plant mine that you provided such a great post about peonies, just what I needed! Your photos helped me a lot to decide where to plant it because I can see now it needs quite a bit of space.

  6. Cathy says:

    Your peonies are gorgeous. I am loving that Crinkle White. Ours are just starting to bloom – three are blooming wildly, the rest will follow shortly. And our tree peonies bloomed for the first time! Great pix of one of my favorite flowers!

  7. Greggo says:

    Like the combo planting of peonies and geraniums. Like peonies when they bloom, just don’t have the space, yet. I’ve seen them blooming in the middle of a bermuda grass lawn of all places. Nice photos, I understand about desaturation, as I had to do that to a butterfly weed bloom.

    • They do make a nice combo. The geraniums keep blooming so much longer too. My middle of the yard peonies flanked a path. I should have shown that image. It was a stunning placement with lavender at their base.

  8. Holley says:

    95 years old! Plants are amazing. These are all gorgeous.

  9. Donna, I again learned something new from you. I didn’t know a Peony plant could get that old.
    The Peonies here in our area are done blooming for several weeks already. As soon as the heat sets in, they are gone. 😦

  10. Ronnie Tyler says:

    Oooooh! Donna how lovely. I think the peony from the minute its little red shoots poke up to when they are in full bloom, are just wonderful. Thank you for sharing yours with us.

    • I too like the red shoots. They sometimes are covered by snow and look so strange sticking out the little red points. They remind me of gnome hats. I wonder if that is not how the story of their attire sprang.

  11. In the past few years, peonies have become one of my favorite spring bloomers. Their full and bright blooms can’t be beat. That first photo of the unnamed variety of peony is stunning!!!…such a lovely shade of pink.

  12. Carolyn♥ says:

    My peonies should be popping this week… yours are beautiful!

    • Your climate seems to coincide with here, right down to the time the snow leaves. I will await your peonies. Mine will be in full bloom by the 15th, barring any bad storms. See yours then I bet.

  13. Kevin says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more about the beauty and ease of care of peonies. I look forward to seeing them each spring. It’s like seeing an old friend. Thanks for the gorgeous photos.

  14. Jim Lewis says:

    I miss peonies. They don’t grow here in the south, but we had some amazing ones when we lived in Northeast Ohio. Thanks for sharing….

    • I would miss peonies too, but I would trade sometimes for the bougainvillea and a few other Southern favorites. I would find it hard though to live below zone six and lose many of my favorites, but peonies could follow to zone 3. They are known for cold hardiness, so maybe even zone 2.

  15. igardendaily says:

    Hi Donna, I just discovered your blog on the day of your amazing post about Peonies! What amazing pictures of my favorite flower! I love growing them and agree they are an easy grower. At my current garden I have ‘Coral Sunset’, I think (the tag was broken when I bought and could only see coral s…). It is almost ready to open and I’m probably too excited about it! Look forward to seeing more of your wonderful blog!

  16. Alistair says:

    Great Peonies Donna, I did not realise that they could be so long lived. Love your macro shots, that one does look very much like a hoverfly.

  17. b-a-g says:

    Great post, I can’t imagine how long you have to wait to capture those photos with the insects – and I love your new header.

    • Hi b_a_g,
      No waiting time since the whole back yard is insect haven, like bird and squirrel haven. I have so much activity, I spend more time chasing off predators like hawks and feral cats. I have a neighbor not so keen on all my wildlife either. Last very few butterflies and I am hoping the trend does not continue.

  18. BumbleLush says:

    If those peonies could talk! 95 years old–amazing! I never knew they could live that long. I’ve always liked peonies. I think they’re beautiful flowers but I don’t really have a lot of space to grow them myself, so I have to admire them in others’ gardens. Your pictures are beautiful, and I think it’s great that you know the history of some of these plants in your neighborhood. 🙂

    • When I moved here I got a history lesson from the older neighbors. Our neighborhood was so different 100 years ago. The center medium was planted with tulip trees, viburnum and many perennials. It had to be amazing. Many of our Norway maples are falling, so soon this neighborhood will have little left from that time. There are some privet hedges and bridal wreath spirea foundation plantings from that time too. Many of the residents where here their whole lives and when they move on, the history goes with them. I liked living in a place rich with character and history. But it is changing and not really for the better.

  19. Kala says:

    I love these peony images. My mother had a plant on the side of her house that is over 100 years old.

  20. Mark and Gaz says:

    I do love Peonies, although I must admit I know only a little bit about them. I’ve heard of claims that there are specimens around here that have been there since the Victorian era. Quite special to see that 95 year old specimen in bloom, gorgeous and petite!

  21. I always admire peonies in other gardens and yet I don’t have any in mine?! I really must do something about that…thanks for the beautiful profile of these wonderful plants! Amazing that they can live to be so old. Rather a nice “pass along” plant for the generations!

  22. Masha says:

    Your peonies are stunning! Herbaceous peonies do not do well here, although I have tried, and tree peonies are very slow growers… You are lucky to have so many.

  23. TufaGirl says:

    Sigh… a peony in Texas would ask to be moved 250 miles east and 300 miles north. I will just look longingly at your photos. Maybe make a stop at the neighborhood florist to get a whiff.

  24. dona says:

    I’ve had some peonies in my former yard . They flowered just one time, and in the following years they gave me just leaves. Considering that now I’m a bit more experienced, I want to try again. Yours are just beautiful!

  25. Stacy says:

    Peonies don’t do well here in Albuquerque, but our next-door neighbors in Denver when I was growing up had them. They were Japanese and as children had been in an internment camp in California during WWII; the only way they talked about the camp was to say that it was “very gray.” They promised themselves that they would always have beauty in their lives, and peonies and crabapples were the cornerstones of their garden.

  26. GirlSprout says:

    Donna, my first peony of all time bloomed last week. I wish mine didn’t take so much coaxing. I think the wind or fertilizing at the wrong time might have dried up all of my other buds. Great macro shot!

  27. Catherine says:

    I really enjoyed this post! I loved seeing the old peonies, how cool that they’ve been there so long. You’ve got some beautiful varieties. I have a couple that are close to blooming, and like yours they are getting lots of wasp visitors even though they aren’t open yet.

  28. Soren says:

    I love peonies, and I love how they will grow from even a fragment of root pullet from the ground… (Though I guess it will be a few years before they flower.) But they also have great foliage, and to me their shoots in spring is actually one of their most stunning features, the bright red shoots poking up from the ground when everything around them looks sort of gloomy and depressing.

  29. rebecca says:

    I ♥ the age on those peonies! My grandmother used to cut them in near-full bloom and store them in the refrigerator (if necessary) to place on family tombs on Memorial Day.
    I inherited 2, but they haven’t bloomed in the 6 years I’ve lived here. Perhaps now is the time to figure out why and take some action. Transplant maybe????

    I should have planted some lettuce as you did. Now it’s too hot to think about. Maybe a late planting…

  30. Your peonies are beautiful. My 90-year-old grandma sent me some peony starts last fall that were from her father’s garden. I’m so glad to have them. I’m not sure they’re glad to have me, though. Still waiting for them to bloom.

  31. Kantu says:

    Love your pictures and little stories.

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