Peony splendor

Hello! This week I found myself sorting through pictures that I’ve taken over the past couple of months. I take a lot of pictures, and I don’t usually sit down and go through them right away. So it is really nice when I am able to see the different aspects of the garden, and the different phases of the flowers through the memory of my lens.

When we first moved into our home ten years ago the yard was full of gardening possibilities – a blank slate, really. We had some lavender plants at the back of the house and that was it. Slowly, ever so slowly, I created bed after bed, all organically (I have this thing about chemicals). Were they all thought out and planned meticulously? The short answer is ‘no’! I confess that there were plants that I wanted to have and I threw them in beds as soon as I could, and Peonies were top of the list! Over time, I’ll get everything in the right place. In the meantime, I’ll keep on enjoying things where they are. 🙂

I have several Peony plants. The blooming starts around the second week of May for my early bloomers and will go well into June for the last of my plants. Not a bad season when you can stretch it that long! The first to bloom is an old fashioned redish colored plant which my Father-in-law gave me years ago (name unknown).

Peony red
The first Peony to bloom at the beginning of May
red peony and bluebells closeup
Red Peony with Bluebells

The red Peonies went into the only bed I had at the time, at our front gate. I’ve since divided them and they are now on both sides of our front gate.

Paeonia 'Hillary'
Paeonia ‘Hillary’

The next Peony to bloom was the Paeonia ‘Hillary’ which is an ‘Itoh’. Itohs are hybrids between garden and tree peonies. I bought this last year and it was full of blooms early on this season, but between gale force winds and other mishaps, only two buds were left when it was time to bloom. The weather was not cooperating at this stage, either, so I don’t think we’ve seen its best year yet. You can see how dry the soil is in some of the pictures.

Peony Hillary
Paeonia ‘Hillary’

I’m happy with this location for my ‘Hillary’ and I think it should do well here – apart from when we have gale force winds. The soil conditions are really good, and it is in full sun. The plant is an unusual color, a very soft redish-pink, and I think it suits this bed.

Peony Hillary + allium
Paeonia ‘Hillary’ blooming with the Allium
Peony Hillary
Paeonia ‘Hillary’
Peony Hillary side view
Paeonia ‘Hillary’

As the ‘Hillary’ faded, the next two plants started to bloom. These two are planted at the back of our house and get morning sun and some afternoon sun. The soil where they are growing is not good! But it has good drainage and I’ve started to give it more attention with compost. Again with these plants, it was the case of wanting to put them somewhere! They aren’t doing too poorly, thankfully.

peony-white-first-single
The first bloom is a full week ahead of the rest of the plant. White and pink Peony.
Peony white and pink + fennel
The white and pink Peony is planted next to a Fennel plant.
Peony white and chicken house
The Peony plant is on one side of our driveway while our chickens are on the other side.
Hosta and Peony view
Here’s a view from our back door. On the other side of the wall (and the Hostas) is the white and pink Peony.
Peony White and Pink pink flower
White and pink Peony.

I have this white and pink Peony supported. I like this support because I can put it in place any time (a lot of supports should be put in place before the plant is fully grown). Most Peony flowers are large and heavy and tend to droop if not supported.

Peony white and pink outside bouquet
This display is like having a bouquet of Peony in the yard!

Just two Fennel plants down from the white and pink Peony, and flowering at the same time, is Paeonia ‘Bowl of Beauty’. The color reminds me of bubble gum. 🙂 On the other side of the Paeonia is lavender, while on the deck there are geraniums and my rain catcher / water butt.

Paeonia Bowl of Beauty lavender view
Paeonia ‘Bowl of Beauty’ next to lavender
Paeonia Bowl of Beauty closed
Paeonia ‘Bowl of Beauty’
Paeonia Bowl of Beauty upclose
Paeonia ‘Bowl of Beauty’
Paeonia 'Bowl of Beauty'
Paeonia ‘Bowl of Beauty’
Paeonia 'Bowl of Beauty'
Paeonia ‘Bowl of Beauty’

There is a bit of an overlap with the next two Peony plants. The white and pink Peony and the ‘Bowl of Beauty’ are not yet finished, as the next two are starting to bloom. I’ll start with Paeonia ‘Kansas’ as it has two flowers in bloom. The location is at my ditch wall garden, which I’ve decided should be more wild flowers – so I don’t think it is ideal for this pretty Peony. The color is amazing – a beautiful deep magenta.

Paeonia 'Kansas'
Paeonia ‘Kansas’ among Foxgloves
Paeonia 'Kansas'
Paeonia ‘Kansas’
Paeonia 'Kansas'
Paeonia ‘Kansas’
Paeonia 'Kansas' with Small Tortoiseshell butterfly
Paeonia ‘Kansas’ with Small Tortoiseshell butterfly
Paeonia 'Kansas'
Paeonia ‘Kansas’

The last of my Peony plants to bloom are my ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ plants. I have two, and one is still only buds, while the other has one fully open flower with a few others starting to open. The one in flower is in my Rainbow garden and is happy – and I am happy where it is. The ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ Peony is pink – as in cotton candy pink! I love the stand out color.

Peony Sarah Bernhardt
Peony ‘Sarah Bernhardt’
Sarah Bernhardt Peony
Paeonia ‘Sarah Bernhardt’

We had very little rain this spring. Thankfully, the rains have returned, somewhat, this past week, which has been a welcome relief to my garden.

I hope you enjoyed the tour! I’ve planted a few more Peony plants this year, so we’ll all have those to look forward to next year!

In Peace,
Dana

In my tasty June Garden

allium purple sensation is now “finished” in the garden

When it comes to the garden there are changes going on all of the time.  Just like in life, time moves forward whether we are ready or not!  The garden has moved from showing off spring flowers on to growing our fruit and veggies and showing off some early summer flowers. We live in County Louth, and although other parts of the country have had rain, it has missed us for the good part of 4 weeks.  I can really see and feel the dryness in the garden.

A very dry veggie and fruit garden

Look at that grass! Granted, we don’t pay any attention to the grass other than mowing it (probably too short, I might add), but it is usually *green* and not yellow.  Anyway, this is an early June look at our pumpkin and zucchini (courgette) plants, along with our blueberry and strawberry plants, and our pear tree.

organic zucchini (courgette)

The organic zucchini plant was given to me in May.  Actually, I did a little bit of a swap, and traded sunflowers for zucchini.  It is great to find someone who grows organically and likes to share! We mixed in a good amount of our compost when we planted them.

organic pumpkin plant

The picture above is of one of my pumpkin plants.  Pumpkins LOVE compost.  We worked in as much compost as we could into this bed.  The seed for this plant is actually from the pumpkins I grew in 2016.  While I did try to grow from last year’s seeds, they didn’t produce anything.  So I then tried the seeds from the previous year, and “Bob’s your Uncle” – they grew! 🙂

blueberries

The blueberry plants are overladen with berries this year and the berries are growing to a nice size!  I am still trying to figure out if my soil has enough acidity for blueberries, as some years they do well and some they don’t. I’ve given them lots of my compost early on in the season, and I’ve kept them watered during this dry spell.  We’ll see how it ends up!

green strawberries

The strawberries are still *very* green, and not very big.  They, too, were lucky recipients of our compost (there is never enough compost, so I have to pick and choose which plants get it!).  I’ve also made sure to water them, so again, I’m hopeful that over the next week or two we’ll get some nice color in them (and a little bit more growth!).

baby pears in early June (strawberry beds in the background)

Our pear tree is doing well again this year.  It is only in the past few years that it has produced fruit, but boy was it worth the wait!  These guys are teeny tiny right now, and only the width of a small finger.

This picture is of our pears in September 2017 (they were delicious!)

another look back at our fall garden of September 2017 with sunflowers, pumpkins, pears, and blueberry plants which have pretty red leaves

a full bed of sunflowers early June 2018

I have tried a new location for sunflowers this year.  I’ve alternated garlic and potatoes in this bed over the past few years, so it was time for a change.  We apparently didn’t dig up all of the spuds last year, as there are some growing up between the sunflowers…  These lovely plants are all grown from my sunflower seeds from last year. My father-in-law kindly started them for me in his greenhouse.  They have really shot up over the past number of weeks, and look to be quite happy!

You have to be sure not to wait too long to collect the sunflower seeds as the birds LOVE them and will clean out the entire flower heads before you know it! (sunflower from our garden Fall 2017)

I really should write a post just on compost, because it is so beneficial!  I’ll put that on my to-do list.  Here’s a look at our “summer” compost heap:

Compost heap (top layer is all new season grass) with a fab overhang of Elder trees!

Underneath all of the new grass is aged compost from last season

It is worth digging the good stuff out from underneath the grass!

I have a separate tumbler for food compost, but I think I will leave that picture for another post!  Thankfully, no one can really see our compost heap, and the sight of it certainly doesn’t bother me given how good it is for the garden!  But I really don’t want to end with pictures of my compost.  I’m going to first show you a picture of tulips and our Hawthorn trees when they were beautifully in bloom with white flowers.  This year I really think the flowers came and went too quickly!  And then I’m going to end with a picture of an early summer plant (peony).

Queen of the Night tulips with a backdrop of Hawthorn trees in flower

Paeonia Bowl of Beauty – all four pictures are different flowers but from the same plant

I hope you have enjoyed this little tour of my June garden. Anything tasty or pretty growing in yours?

In peace,
Dana