Peony Time!

Ahh, peonies. Easy-going, romantic, and full of variety. I love them in the garden. I love them as cut flowers. I just think their old-fashioned beauty is charming. They make me think of my grandmothers. Here’s a look at the peonies blooming in our garden this spring:


‘Pink Spritzer’ peony



‘Paree Fru Fru’ peony


Mystery fancy-single type bush peony: there were some distressed, unknown varieties of peonies for sale for very cheap at the Dawes sale a few years ago. I got 2. 1 made it, 1 didn’t. This is the surprise peony that survived, isn’t it striking?



‘Ann Cousins’ (I think!) peony with bonus false indigo

There are so many gorgeous varieties of peonies to choose from. (Around 3,000 is the estimate I keep finding.) It is both hard to choose because they are all so tempting—and easy because one can hardly go wrong! I love the sheer extravagance of the bomb-type flowers (like the Ann Cousins)- absolutely worth the effort of hooping/staking to deal with the drooping. I also love the exoticism of the fancy single type blooms (like the Pink Spritzer) and their relatively lighter blooms don’t tend to droop or need hoops/stakes.This year, we picked up a ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ peony plant at the Chadwick Arboretum sale- a pink bomb flower that has been available since 1906. Such a classic, I can hardly wait for it to bloom next year. 🙂

What’s your favorite peony variety?



What to do when Winter Comes…in May

Folk wisdom in our parts holds that you should be safe to plant annuals, vegetables, and what-not after May 15th. So of course there was a frost warning on for last night. And of course, my husband had actually managed to get all of our vegetables in the ground early this year, getting everything settled last week:


Wonderful, right? We were determined not to lose anything. But our sheet collection was already claimed by some tender Japanese Maples and baby trees we wanted to cover, so what to do? I hit upon the idea of buying some extra paper yard waste bags and popping them over the tomato cages for the tomato plants. We’ll use the bags soon enough in our battle against the weeds, and I figured they’d be quick to put in place and would provide ample protection against any frost. Take a look:

Easy as pie!

On the recommendation of a customer from my job, we also tried using a large empty plastic cat-litter bin over one larger tomato plant that we hadn’t caged yet, and an empty plastic coffee bin over a pepper plant. But we didn’t have enough empty stuff in our recycling bin to cover everything in our veggie patch, and I’m a bit leery of using plastic stuff for this purpose. Plants can get damaged if they’re touching the plastic and it freezes. So for the rest of our pepper and okra plants, we used paper sandwich bags.

Much like with the yard waste bags, we opened them first. Then we ripped about an inch up along each of the corner folds so we could make little flaps. We placed the bags over our little uncaged veggies and put dirt on the flaps to hold things in place as it was a bit windy. Here’s how everything looked covered up:


I am pleased to report that, although we did experience some frost, bagging our veggies did the trick. Everything looked wonderful once it was safe to uncover things. Will absolutely remember this option in the future!

Cherry Blossoms

imageimageWelcome back, cherry blossoms! The last 2 years, ill-timed freezes zapped our cherry trees right as they were preparing to bloom. My husband snapped these dreamy pictures of one of our cherry trees 2 days ago.

I’m a little afraid to investigate the garden today. Last night, freezing temperatures and wind with gusts of up to 50 mph moved into the area. I suspect the magnolia tree will be looking sad, who knows about the cherry trees.

Late Autumn Color

Cornus kousa 007We planted a pair of tiny kousa dogwoods about 2 or 3 years ago. They flank the entrance to our vegetable garden. Although they are different varieties of kousa dogwood, both are variegated. One is a ‘wolf eyes’ variety. I forget what the other one is. At any rate, I’ve been delighted by the show they’ve put on this autumn: the white parts on the leaves on both have turned quite pink the past few weeks, making them look rather like tricolor beech leaves do in spring. Lovely!


After an extra long workweek that kind of kicked my rear, it was extra nice to relax with my husband on our deck last night. The weather was perfect and I snapped a few pictures of him and some of our dogs enjoying those mellow-golden near-dusk moments.  (And doesn’t our garden look lush???) Pretty much heaven on earth. 🙂SRCKickoff 211SRCKickoff 233SRCKickoff 244Go have a great Sunday!

Mock Orange

Our garden is looking rather magnificent. How lucky to have a spring with rain! One shrub that is currently in its full glory is our variegated mock orange. The petals on the flowers are so white they are nearly literally blinding and the bush is just bursting with them!025 007 012Mock oranges are known for their scent. I find ours interestingly elusive. If I stick my nose right in the blossoms to smell, I don’t smell much of anything. But when I’m standing nearby-ish I’ll suddenly be surrounded by the scent. It reminds me pleasingly of crushed sweet tarts. Ours is supposed to be a variegated variety. Some of the leaves show some variegation, but honestly not that much overall. But it is well worth the space in the garden when this old-fashioned beauty is blooming. Wonderful!