Thursday, July 11, 2013

As Promised ... Garden 2013

Just a quick word of explanation first: last summer 2012 was one of the worst gardening summers we've ever had in Illinois. After a few spring photos, I gave up on taking photos and then was overcome with a series of health issues for myself and my husband and abandoned this blog. Sorry. Now we're back on track. David has a wheelchair and a ramp and a downstairs bathroom and I've got a cable lift in the van for getting the wheelchair in easily. The weather has been wonderful this year as well. So we're good to go!

First of all, tree peonies were stupendous this year. Usually they bloom in early April and get drowned in rain that breaks the branches or fried by sudden heat waves (2011 and 2012). They were two weeks later this year and enjoyed sun, perfect rains, and cool nights.
 Most of you are familiar with "regular" peonies, sometimes called herbaceous peonies, that bloom in May, smell lovely, and are often seen lining driveways. We have those too and love them. But these are a bit different. They have woody stems like a tree and you don't cut down the foliage each year. They take a while to establish but, like their relatives, are very long-lived. Many have been bred in Asia, especially China and Japan.

 Some of them are scented and some not. The blooms are very silky and satiny in texture and quite large. The range of colors in pretty good, lacking mainly blues. If the weather is right, which it certainly was this April here, the blooms last a long time too.

 This white one is especially nicely scented. There were probably 50 blooms on this bush.

 As you can see, the centers are really showy too, with bright yellow to contrast with the petal color.

 Many of my tree peonies were planted in an earlier garden almost 30 years ago now and transplanted here 17 years ago. I have added a few new ones in the past five or six years, however, and these haven't reached their full size yet. But the newer ones include several bicolors, like this pink and white one.

 There are quite a few variations of what you might call a "rose" colored tree peony. The range of pink, rose, red, to purple is quite broad.

 Notice that the foliage is a little different from the herbaceous peonies too, with those pointed leaves. When the flowers finish and the seed buds form (they really should be cut off to prevent drawing energy away from the shrub), the leaves stay attractive all summer and fall.

 Here's a nice bright red one that I added just a couple of years back.

 Tree peonies take more shade than herbaceous ones. You can see a fern behind this white one in a slightly raised bed at the south end of an east side planting with filtered light.

Here's an especially pretty newer one with lots of delicate markings on the two-tone petals.

Next blog post (soon, I hope) will include iris and phlox and the early plantings of container annuals. Unfortunately, I had some camera battery issues and so I missed getting photos of the wonderful show of herbaceous peonies, the lilacs, and the siberian irises. But the early summer hydrangeas, many perennials, and annuals spilling over the edges of their containers are yet to come ... so stayed tuned!


  1. A welcomed return!! What gorgeous photographs! Did you take these with your new iPad?

    1. Actually no. Glad to see that you're glad I'm back.