I hope you’ve had a wonderful weekend, for those of us in the U.K. we’ve had an extra day which always feels like a nice bonus.
It was lovely and warm with a fresh chill in the air, perfect gardening weather. I love this time of year, the garden is changing almost daily as plants burst into leaf, and flower buds are appearing everywhere.
The peonies planted last year are growing fast, and very welcome they are too because we couldn’t grow them in the last garden, it was too shady for them and the soil wasn’t right, so I’m delighted to have them in this garden.
My peonies are perennials, they die back in late autumn, leaving only roots underground, then grow back again in early spring. You can also get shrub peonies, confusingly called ‘tree peonies’ but definitely deciduous shrubs, that can grow up to 2m/6ft high.
Peonies originated in China and were grown in medieval times in Europe by Benedictine monks. They have such glamorous flowers that come in a wide range of colours and shapes. Some packed full of frilly petals and others more simple and understated. The pale ones look soft and romantic, while the brightly coloured ones look blousy, all of these are good looks for a garden as far as I’m concerned.
tree peony, romantically named Peony Lemoinei Souvenier de Maxine Cornu
Peonies can be planted between October and March. They’re happiest in sun and grow best in rich soil that doesn’t stay wet, so a well-drained loam is ideal, which is why I couldn’t grow them the sandy, well-drained soil of the last garden.
Plant them about 90cm apart, snip off flowers as they fade and put a layer of well-rotted manure around the base of the plant in late autumn, making sure it doesn’t cover the plant.
They usually flower anytime from the end of May to the end of June, depending on the climate where you are. There were a couple of flowers on my plants last year, though new plants can take up to three years to flower.
They look beautiful in a border and wonderful as cut flower, so if your garden has the right conditions, why not have a go?
all photos: Jill Anderson.