Probably my most favorite time of the year!

Peony bouquet on table July 9

Peony ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ bouquet July 9th

Well hello, and welcome to my blog! There is something about summer that creates a feeling of being carefree, don’t you think? The bright evenings and, when we get it, the warmth of the sun energizes me. The all too busy family schedule takes a bit of a breather, which is a welcome reprieve. Best of all, we get to spend more time with family and friends. The garden, on the other hand, is full steam ahead!

Peony bouquet up close Sarah Bernhardt July 9

Peony ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ bouquet July 9th

The peony season was fantastic this year! The very last of my peony (two ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ plants) finished blooming just this week.  Oh they were so pretty!

Peony Sarah Bernhardt July 9

Peony ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ July 9th

Also coming to an end this week were the poppies growing in my rose bed. There were hundreds of flowers! I was surprised how strong some of their roots were, which I discovered as I pulled them up. One ‘two handed pull’ had me landing on my backside when it finally came free! 🙂 They were pretty, but the downside was that they didn’t allow any air circulation around my roses, which I think was quite unfortunate.  I will have to thin them out next year, and not allow them to take over the bed!

Purple Poppies Full Bloom Rose Bed

Purple Poppies in full bloom in the Rose bed – Where are the roses?

Purple Poppies ONE bloom Rose Bed

Just a couple of blooms of the Purple Poppies left in the Rose bed

Poppy heads

the Poppies I pulled from the Rose bed

Rose bed

A look at the Rose bed just after pulling the purple Poppies (and after a bit of weeding)

I did manage to get some pictures of some very pretty roses (ones that weren’t hidden by poppies!).  Over the past few years I have planted quite a few David Austin roses. All of them are scented, some more so than others. Sometimes their blooms can be so heavy that they face down, and therefore are harder to photograph (if you see me crouching on the ground, this is why!). But other than that, I think they are absolutely wonderful!

Light Pink David Austin 'Olivia Rose Austin' Rose July 13

David Austin ‘Olivia Rose Austin’ Rose

David Austin 'Teasing Georgia' Rose July

David Austin ‘Teasing Georgia’ Rose

Boscobel David Austin Rose

David Austin ‘Boscobel’ Rose

The hosta are in bloom with tall lilac colored flowers. Hosta would prefer shade, which I have very little of in my yard. For now, they seem to be doing OK.

Hydrangea, Lilies, Hosta

Hydrangea, Lilies, and Hosta in bloom

Lilies + Hosta

Lilies in a pot, Hosta flowers in bloom

The area in the background of the above picture was originally all brambles and weeds. Over the past two years, after clearing the area, I’ve added some really hardy perennials to see if they will overtake the weeds. This year looks pretty good! The perennial geranium, bergenia, and Lychnis coronaria (rose campion) came back and are doing well!

Lychnis coronaria rose campion

Lychnis coronaria (also known as rose campion) is a real eye-catcher in the garden!

There are different varieties of hydrangea in the garden, and the Incrediball is just now coming into ‘color’ bloom (creamy white), which you can see in the picture below. The pink lupin (or lupine) to the right of it is just about finished, and there is some Lychnis coronaria (also known as rose campion) in there, too. The hydrangea paniculata is still forming its blooms, with no color just yet, while the lavender is perfect for harvesting (to dry) right now!

Front Gate Garden July 18

Our Front Gate Garden July 18

Front Gate garden hydrangea lavender lupin

The same Front Gate Garden the week before: with pink lupin (or lupine), hydrangea ‘incrediball’ and lavender

Early morning view of lavender

Lavandula angustifolia – Lavender July 18th and ready for harvesting (for drying)

Phew! There is so much going on in the garden! And the lavender is just calling me to do something creative with it. 🙂

I hope you are enjoying your summer, too!

In peace,

Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt' fully open July 9

Peony ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ fully open July 9

Peonies in the Garden including an Itoh Hybrid Peony ‘Hillary’

Peony Hillary

Paeonia ‘Hillary’ a hybrid between garden and tree peonies

Peony season is still in full swing in my garden! Our temperature is quite mild here (in Ireland), which would have an influence on how quickly (or rather, slowly!) the flowers bloom. It started around the middle of May with the blooming of my Tree Paeonia Renkaku. Following quickly behind that was my new hybrid peony, Paeonia ‘Hillary’, which started to bloom on the 20th of May. I only bought it in early spring this year, so it was a treat to have a flower this year!

Paeonia 'Hillary'

Paeonia ‘Hillary’

“A hybrid peony?” you ask.  Why yes, it is. I had not heard of a hybrid before and was curious to learn about them (and to get one!). Here’s what I’ve learned about my new hybrid peony ‘Hillary’ (from the Peony Shop Holland):

Paeonia Intersectional or Itoh Hybrid Peony Intersectional Peony Hybrids, also known as Itoh Peonies, named in honor of Toichi Itoh, the originator of these unique hybrid peonies. They are representative of the progeny of crossing or hybridizing the two main groups or selections of peonies; the herbaceous hybrids which die down sub surface buds during their dormant season and the tree or woody shrub peonies which retain a year round woody branch structure above ground level.

During their dormant season, the Itoh or Intersectional hybrids retain only extremely short (1″-2″) woody stems above ground level. Ornamentally, they achieve the best of both parental worlds with the handsome flowers and foliage of the woody tree peonies displayed on an herbaceous plant, with annual new growth originating from buds below ground level.

Strong healthy plants form attractive dense, neat rounded bushes which are shorter in stature than most tree peonies. Flowers are displayed above the handsome foliage that remains greener longer than their herbaceous parents. Intersectional hybrids are somewhat hardier than tree peonies and more tolerant of heat and humidity which extends their ornamental potential in both the North and south.

Paeonia 'Hillary'

Paeonia ‘Hillary’

The Irish Specialist Nursery Association hosted St. Anne’s Park Plant Fair in Dublin in March. I don’t usually head into Dublin on the weekends, and honestly driving someplace new is always a challenge for me, but I was intrigued enough to put aside my fears and check out what was on offer at the park. A slight tangent here, but St. Anne’s Park is absolutely fabulous! It was full of life with the plant sale along with a farmers market and lots of families milling through, just in the hour or so I was there. It is on Mount Prospect Avenue in Raheny, with free parking all along the outside of the park, but I’m sure any Irish ‘locals’ would know all about it already!

The point of telling you about the Plant Fair is that I bought my hybrid Peony there from Leamore Nursery. It was well worth challenging my uncomfortableness of driving someplace new (especially on my own!) to get such a lovely plant (and a few others, too).

Paeonia 'Hillary'

Paeonia ‘Hillary’

The description for ‘Hillary’ stated that it should have large double flowers opening as very dark pink, gradually fading to cream on the upper part of the petals. I found the color difficult to describe – I’m not sure I’d describe it as dark pink. It did fade, though, changing the look. I look forward to seeing it in years to come with more blooms in different stages of color!

Paeonia 'Hillary'

Paeonia ‘Hillary’

I’m always thankful for a fully hardy plant, and it enjoys either full sun or part shade, with deep, fertile, humous-rich moist but well drained soil. I think it is in a really good location, so I’m hopeful that it will be happy in my garden.

Peony 'Bowl of Beauty'

Peony ‘Bowl of Beauty’

Fast forward to June 11th for the next blooming peony (Bowl of Beauty).

Peony 'Bowl of Beauty'

Peony ‘Bowl of Beauty’

‘Bowl of Beauty’ is an herbaceous perennial (no woody stem like the Tree Peony has) which grows to 80cm tall, and has mid-green, divided leaves. What I like about this peony is that it looks completely different closed as when opened. The flowers are a bright vibrant pink on the outside with a cream almost pointy-like petals on the inside, and open as wide as 20cm.

Peony 'Bowl of Beauty'

Peony ‘Bowl of Beauty’

Just in case you’ve ever wondered (like I have!), the peony, or paeony, is a flowering plant in the genus Paeonia. They are native to Asia, Europe and Western North America. There, now we all know! 🙂

Peony 'Bowl of Beauty'

Peony ‘Bowl of Beauty’

I try to support them as they tend to flop over with the weight of the flowers! There are some handy metal supports you can buy. I have tied them up, too, which also works. My next blooming peony plant needs lots of support (no woody stems like the Tree Peony!) as again the flowers are heavy. I don’t know the official name, but it is a common white variety that normally just has a streak of pink in it. This year, though, it is more pink than white!

White Peony that is pink

White Peony (really?)

I even checked my pictures from last year (because I was doubting myself!) – they were 99% white last year with streaks of pink. Funny isn’t it?

White peony up close

White Peony (with lots of pink)

Don’t get me wrong, I love pink! I think they are still so pretty. They were quite conical in shape this year too.

White Peony

White Peony with shades of pink

This next Peony, which is also currently still blooming, was added to the garden in 2017, and this year is the first it has bloomed. The color is one of my favorite – a deep fuchsia pink! I bought it at National Trust’s Hidcote, in Gloucestershire, England, which is an Arts and Crafts garden in the north Cotswolds. I was there on a very special ‘Gardening Gals Getaway‘, so it reminds me of the wonderful time I had with some very special friends.

Peony 'Kansas' in bud form

Peony ‘Kansas’

I’ve had a difficult time capturing the color with my camera – the sun distorts the color!

Peony 'Kansas'

Peony ‘Kansas’

Peony 'Kansas'

Peony ‘Kansas’ + Foxglove

You’ll just have to take my word for it that it looks different in person (and much prettier).

Every year peony plants add more flowers, which is such a delight. I have two more Peony plants that aren’t quite blooming yet, both of them ‘Sarah Bernhardt’. And then the Peony season will be finished in our garden. That’s not a bad run!

The last one to bloom … Peony ‘Sarah Bernhardt’.

Peony ‘Sarah Bernhardt’

I hope you have enjoyed my Peony tour! It was a pleasure having you visit! Which is your favorite Peony? 🙂

In Peace,