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Peony Season

Peony season is over. Sure, I have a few vases full of buds that might never open, about a dozen stems drying in the sauna, and, of course, the pictures.

Peony stems drying in the sauna.

I shoot portraits of my peonies throughout the season. On a scientific level, it lets me know from year to year when the first bud opens and when the last bud is picked.

'Tom Cat' offers up its largest flowers first.

Several peony varieties apparently got together and decided to open their flowers on the same date. It was late compared with most years--beginning June 1, and gradually reaching a crescendo around June 8. I cut the last buds today, June 16. Two weeks of peony bliss is more than many people expect, so it was good.

Peony 'Pink Hawaiian Coral' is an early mainstay.

We had record amounts of rain in May, after a lingering winter, so everything in the garden had a pretty wild start.

Peony 'Do Tell' begs for close inspection. This variety will even reward your nose with a light peony scent.

Temperatures remained on the cool side, which served to delay bud openings. It allowed me extra time to stake and add supports to the plants.

'White Cap' is one variety that looks as exciting before it opens.

'Mme Ducel' makes a bright border on a shaded path.

I like the way peonies can adapt themselves to any scenario, from casual to formal. I try to make sure supports for my peonies' stems are as unobtrusive as possible to avoid the straight laced look of a catholic school march into church.

Peony 'Dayton' holds its own and owns the spotlight among potted annuals.

Before the peonies bloom, I'm already shopping for and grooming their replacements. Once they finish blooming and become no more than green leafy blobs, the garden cries out for a school of successors.

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