Thursday, June 11, 2009

Paying Homage to Peonies and Irises

While I was visiting gardens in Chicago and Cleveland over the past few weeks, my own garden marched on, each flower having its own season. Already, both the irises and peonies have seen their best days and we're on to summer's flowers.

Last weekend, Van Wert, Ohio celebrated their annual Peony Festival. Few people outside the area know that Van Wert used to be considered the Peony Capital of the World. (Check out this 1916 article from The New York Times!) Large peony farms used to be dotted throughout the area and several peonies were hybridized there and named cultivars developed, such as 'Jubilee.'

They were in their heyday in the 1930s, but even today, large plots of peonies can be found without having to look too far. After all, the peony can live for a hundred years! Drive through Van Wert and the surrounding countryside, and it would be easier to count the residences that don't have peonies growing there than counting those that do.

Even our own home, built in 1975 and purchased by us in 1977, had a peony growing in its yard when we moved here. The older home across the road has a whole row of red ones with pinks and whites scattered here and there. The original white one in our yard is still here and still blooming, as part of the infamous Peolac.

Peonies - Class of 2009

First to bloom is the Fernleaf peony (Paonia tenuifolia).

Then comes the tree peonies (Paeonia suffruticosa), which perhaps have the most glorious blooms of any peony. They're certainly the largest. My 'Sahohime' produced 39 blooms this year, its fifth in my garden.


Tree Peony (Paeonia suffruticosa)'Shimanishiki' in its first year of bloom. It's supposed to be streaked with white, but the only sign of white is on the edges of the petals, so I'm wondering if it wasn't mislabeled. There were two blooms this year, both identical. We'll see what it does next year, when it will be a more mature plant. Even if it doesn't ever look like it's supposed to, the soft cherry color is gorgeous.

I have another deep pink tree peony, but it didn't bloom this year. Last year, it had a couple of nice blooms. That's okay, the white dogwood tree was back to its non-flowering ways this year, too.

The white bloom on the Peolac.

Here, it appears that this bloom, also on the Peolac, is a pale pink on the outer petals. I wish I knew which peony it actually is. It's very fragrant, having a scent just like that of a traditional rose.

This is my favorite herbaceous peony that we've got. It's called 'Charles Burgess' and it was screaming my name a couple of years ago, as I was checking out at nearby Beining Nursery. Places like that know exactly what they're doing when they put eye candy like this right by the cash register!

'Charles Burgess'

An unknown, but common, herbaceous peony in Max's Garden. There are a couple of these growing there and they actually still have some decent-looking blooms on them. Its blooms are quite dense and they have no fragrance.

'Sarah Bernhardt' is familiar to just about everyone who's into peonies. It's slightly fragrant.

Next year, I hope to have blooms on my new ones - 'Cincinnati,' which I bought guess where?, 'Bowl of Beauty' (a Walmart special), and 'Moonlit Purple Lotus,' which I got from Peony's Envy when I was at the Cincinnati Flower Show. I look forward to seeing blooms on a new orange tree peony, too.

The irises burst on the scene toward the end of May and put on a glorious show for a week or two. With the exception of a few Dutch Iris blooms, they are now history. Only a couple of rebloomers will give us an encore presentation later in the summer.

2009 Irises

'Edith Wolford' is an older German Bearded Iris, but the awesome color combination assures that it will remain popular.

Dutch Iris 'Oriental Beauty' has been around for awhile in my garden, and is a reliable bloomer.

Unknown Dutch Iris

'Flight of the Butterflies' is a Siberian iris that likes the moist conditions near the little pond in Max's Garden. I can see how it got its name. When there's a breeze, the falls flutter in a way similar to Quaking Aspens, and like fluttering butterfly wings.

I'm not sure if this is a Japanese or Siberian iris. It spreads quickly and I've shared it several times.

Helen's Iris


'Red at Night'

'Red at Night' under surveillance by Boo

Big Box Store labeled as 'Fall Fiesta,' but obviously it's not. I like it quite a bit, though, as it makes a dramatic statement in the garden, with its combination of dark and pastel colors.

German Bearded Iris 'Princesse Caroline de Monaco' was yet another trap set for me by those folks over at Beining Nursery. This nearly glows in the early evening light and is one of my favorites.

'Princesse Caroline de Monaco'

Now, to find an orange one like the one I saw in Carolyn Gail's garden at Spring Fling...


TYRA Hallsénius Lindhe said...

Hi Kylee a lot of Ah.. and Oh-la-la through your lovely flower parade and you got names on most of them, well done. I havn't got names on most of my Irises and that is a pity. When I bought them it just said Iris 'mix color' I hate that.

Have a great weekend Kylee/ Tyra

Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

Kylee, Don't you just love peonies? One is prettier than the next. I have the one like you, the unnamed one with the pink outer petals. It is a pass-along from a neighbor, I just love it. Love the Peolac story.

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

Ooh, I think my iris that I was describing as burgundy is 'Red at Night.' I've only ever gotten irises as divisions and none has been named! Also, had no idea about Van Wert--it's a reasonable day trip from Ann Arbor. I did visit a peony garden in Ann Abor, if you're interested:

Sylvana said...

I decided last year to start collecting irises and peony since they make great transitions from tulips to summer garden. And both of them are great for tucking in among other plants.

I have been seeing a lot of tree peony on the garden blogs, and I love them! I guess it is time to break down and spend the $$ for them!

I really like the picture of unnamed yellow iris, it almost looks like an orchid. I also like the Red at Night and Princesse Caroline de Monaco.

Jane Doe said...

I didn't know Van Wert was the peony capital, nor did I know that the town holds a Peony Festival. I'll write a note and check it out next year.

Gorgeous photos. Thanks for sharing.

Gail said...

A beautiful homage to peony and iris...I have a few peonies, they make me smile and remind me of the earliest gardens in my memory. Did you find the orange iris? gail

Victoria Williams said...

Love your peonies and iris. Especially that Charles Burgess. You're right, eye candy indeed! Peonies and iris provide such a nice segue into summer.

MILLIE said...

Thank you for the van Wert history. Isn't that cool? I have an Immortality Iris. I didn't see it this year. I hope it hasn't died.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Kylee, you have quite the peony parade. The Irises are beautiful too. Love seeing your garden even more full of blooms than when I got to see it.

Jennifer MacNeill said...

WOW!! This post makes me realize I need more peonies and iris!

Muum said...

I enjoyed your peonies and irises! I will have to get a few more peonies, I think, after seeing yours! I am a big fan of the bearded iris, but have some of the siberian, too. love the Princess Caroline de Monaco, will have to keep an eye out for it. Good luck finding that special orange one; there are so many different irises, I'm sure you'll find one you love . check out Blue J Iris, they have great prices!

Unknown said...

Beautiful photos, Kylee... I'm really jealous of your Red at Night, because I had to dig out my red "Samurai Warrior' iris last fall due to borers. *sigh*

We had 'Immortality' at the garden center this year, and I couldn't believe the wonderful fragrance of those flowers, btw. So light and sweet...

Kathleen said...

oh my word Kylee. You have some stunning peonies and iris. I love 'Sahohime' ~ it's a knock out. and 'Charles Burgess' would have hopped in my cart too. What a dangerous nursery you have nearby! You've inspired me to find a place for more. I did add 'Bowl of Beauty' to my garden last spring and it produced two blooms this year. :-( I can't believe you found it at Walmart! I saw it at our Botanic Gardens then tracked it down at a nearby nursery.

Wayne Stratz said...

I am not a huge fan of peonies, but I am a huge fan of irises... I need to get some more for my gardens.

VW said...

I love peonies and iris, too. Immortality bloomed for the first year for me here. Unfortunately I found that thrips LOVE the lighter-colored iris and peonies (anything that's not dark blue or red). I have a serious thrip problem that drives me nutty. I've accepted that the roses will need systemic every year, but the iris, too? Humbug.

Patrick O'Connor said...

The yellow iris that grows rapidly is neither Japanese or Siberian. I'm pretty sure it's I. pseudacorus. A very pretty flower and very aggressive plant.

Nice photos. Enjoyed your blog.


peonylady said...

Love your blog and particularly because I love peonies, love the photographs of your peonies and the story associated with them. For a very logn time, I suffered from peonies envy when we lived in San Diego Ca. Couldn't grow them there! So, when we moved to Washington State, I started my own peony Farm, called PEONY FARM". but I am still wanting more peonies, especially when new varieties are introduced. Peony envy is a deadly sin!

sheena said...

your peonies are divine. Nice to see someone else who is into them as much as I am.
I have to comment on the yellow flag iris. that is an invasive in many areas. so I would be reluctant to share it! I know nobody wants to hear that and they say "what difference does it make?" But it can make a big difference.
but your collection is fabulous!!!

Kylee Baumle said...

sheena ~ Oh I HATE that iris now and I've been removing it from my garden. I had it in a lot of places, but I just can't tolerate it anymore. It's interesting that it's one of the few that isn't affected by the borer. Figures!

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