Its cold and grey outside, so we seek a bit of spring in this selection of peony related haiku. Most of these poems date from the Edo period (1603-1868). Many of the masters of the haiku such as Matsuo Basho, Yosa Buson and Kobayashi Isaa used peonies as a muse and metaphor. As in Chinese poetry, this selection of haikus illustrates the way in which peonies are linked with female beauty and sensuality in traditional Japanese literary culture.
If you garden is looking brown and dreary like ours, we hope that you will enjoy these haikus. They help to remind us that in only a few short months the sleeping beauties that are the peonies will awake and our gardens will once again be aglow!
In the midst of our 5th week of Cricket Hill Garden’s 2014 peony bloom, we finally have a moment to post some photos of the herbaceous and intersectional or ‘Itoh’ peonies. We should still have flowers in the garden for another week, proving that in our climate planting different types of peonies does indeed provide six full weeks of gorgeous blossoms. We hope you enjoy the following late season bloom recap.
The Chinese tree peonies bloomed about ten days later this year than usual. Needless to say, once they began they were even more breathtaking than we remembered. Our Japanese and Lutea hybrid tree peonies are still in bloom, with some still very tightly budded. There are still weeks of peonies to come this spring so we will be posting more as the blossoms open.
On a recent trip to am unnamed box store for some spring renovation supplies, we were surprised to see intersectional peonies offered along with the standard spring selection of dahlia tubers and gladiolas bulbs. It was only a few years ago that intersectional peonies, hybrids between tree and herbaceous peonies, were so rare that they could only be found at specialty nurseries such as ourselves. Today, thanks to increased importation of Dutch grown intersectional peonies, they are found more frequently at less specialized nurseries and garden centers. However, as many of you know, not all peonies are equal.
We invite you to Cricket Hill Garden’s 26th anniversary peony festival this spring. Despite the long winter and late thaw, we are confident that it will be our most spectacular season to date at Peony Heaven. Some of the tree peonies in our display garden are reaching an impressive size. If you are in the area of northwestern Connecticut, please come and say hello, stroll the garden, bring a picnic to eat by the pond, and most of all enjoy the peonies. As always, the garden is open to the public and there is no admission fee.
We are happy to accommodate garden clubs and other groups. There is no fee for this, but we do ask that you make an appointment for a large group in advance. Give us a call at 860 283 1042 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to make arrangements. Our garden and nursery is located in the picturesque hills of Litchfield county. There are good restaurants, other beautiful gardens and endless hiking trails in the area. Have a look here for a little peak at what our leafy corner of Connecticut has to offer.
Cricket Hill Garden Nursery Hours Spring 2015
The nursery will open for plant sales the week of April 15th, given that our snow is melted by then!
The peonies will not be in bloom until May, but we will have an interesting selection of potted peonies and fruit trees.
In April, we are open Wednesday through Saturday for early plant sales. Open 10-5.
May 1st to June 21st- Display Garden & Nursery Open Tuesday-Sunday 10am-5pm
- After June 21st, by appointment only
2015 Peony Festival Schedule
April through early May
May 15th to late May
May 10th Mothers Day: We celebrate mothers with the with specials on selected potted peonies. Peonies are budded, but this year it is too cold for peonies to open for Mother’s Day. May 25th Memorial Day: Specials on selected potted peonies at the nursery. This will be a great weekend to see the peonies this year. We anticipate tree peonies will peak around this time.
Early June Blooms
June 10th to 21st
These projections are our best guess based on the current forecasts for the coming weather. It has been colder than average and the blooms are slow to develop this year. We will update our information as the season progresses. Feel free to email us at email@example.com or call (860) 283 1042 for up-to-date peony bloom information.
Among the three types of peonies- tree, herbaceous and intersectional, there are a variety of growth habits. Along with sun requirements, the mature form of a given variety is an important consideration when planning to add a peony to your garden.
Tree peonies, like other woody perennials, are comprised of a thicket of stems which emerge out of the ground from the root system. Tree peony growth habits are categorized according to the angle at which the branches grow relative to the ground.
Upright form tree peonies
Upright form tree peonies tend to be vigorous varieties with comparatively long annual growth. Stems and branches grow upwards, at a narrow angle to the ground. The example shown here ( Sichuan Peach Blossom) is about 6 ft. tall and 6 ft. wide, and has been pruned of lower leaves and small branches to allow an uncluttered, open form of the shrub.
Tree peonies with this growth habit include: most cultivars in the Chinese rockii and Japanese groups, some Central Plains Chinese and hybrid tree peonies. Final mature height will vary between 4.5 to 7 ft., depending on the cultivar. In our plant descriptions, we do include the mature height of our cultivars.
Landscape uses: Tree peonies with upright growth habits make excellent display plants. Do not be intimidated by the height, keep in mind that tree peonies are slow growing plants which take 10-15 years to reach their mature size. Vigorous cultivars can also be kept smaller with yearly pruning. Grow in USDA zones 4-9, with at least 5-6 hours of sunlight.
Spreading form tree peonies
The branches of the spreading form tree peonies expand out diagonally to the ground, so that the plant width is much greater than the height. This type seems slower growing than upright habit tree peonies. At maturity, tree peonies with spreading growth habit measure between 2.5-3 ft. tall and 3-5 ft. wide.
Tree peonies with this growth habit include: Some Central Plains cultivar group of Chinese tree peonies (includes many of the historic Chinese varieties), some hybrid tree peonies.
Landscape placement: Mixed perennial border or foundation planting. Also very attractive planted on a raised terrace which allows for easy viewing of downward facing flowers. Ideal for smaller gardens. Grow in USDA zones 4-9, with at least 5-6 hours of sunlight.
Semi-spreading form tree peonies
The semi-spreading growth habit is characterized as being an intermediate between the upright and the spreading types. Typically dimensions at maturity are between 3-4 ft. tall and 3-5 ft. wide.
Tree peonies with this growth habit include: All cultivar groups of tree peonies have some varieties which can be classified as having a semi-spreading growth habit. The majority of hybrid tree peonies are semi-spreading.
Landscape placement: Very versatile, can be used as either a focal specimen plant or as part of a more diverse garden setting in a mixed shrub and perennial border. Grows in USDA zones 4-9, requires 5-6 hours of sun to bloom well. Tree peonies will grow in full sun, but the flowers fade more quickly. Morning sun, afternoon shade is ideal.
Species Herbaceous Peonies
There are approximately 25 species of herbaceous peonies which can be found in the wild over a wide swath of Eurasia, from the Mediterranean to Japan. They are lower growing plants, between 1 to 2.5 ft. tall. Some species, like P. japonica, remain small plants which will not exceed more than 1.5 ft. wide. Others, like P. macrophylla will become large clumps with time, up to 3 ft. wide.
Landscape use: Some species, like P. japonica are ideal for the shady margin between the deciduous forest and the garden. Other species require full sun. All add delicate color to the early spring garden. Be aware that many species peonies will have their foliage die back in the heat of summer.
Lactiflora type Herbaceous Peonies
Cultivated varieties of P. lactiflora account for the vast majority of herbaceous peonies in commerce. This species, which is native to China, forms a tall, upright bush, generally 3.5 ft. tall and wide. Some are single form flowers, while others are fully double form. Some cultivars are weak stemmed and require support, while others have markedly stronger stems. We have test grown more than 150 herbaceous peony cultivars in 25 years and have discarded many because their stems are too weak. We select out the better peonies to propagate and sell, those with vigor and good stems, fragrance, unique form and color.
Landscape uses: Devoted beds or borders. A widely adaptable garden favorite for generations, used in mixed perennial borders with at least six hours of sunlight, to a full day of sun. Will grow in USDA zones 3-8. Some herbaceous peonies will grow and bloom in zone 9, but must be planted just below the soil surface. Difficult to establish in zone 9 due to dryness and lack of winter dormancy.
Hybrid Herbaceous Peonies
Hybrid herbaceous peonies are the result of crosses between different peony species. Sizes within this broad group are quite variable, between 2.5-4.5’ tall and 2.5-3.5’ wide. Many of these hybrids were first created in America, in the mid-t0-late 20th century.
Landscape uses: The wide range of flowering times and diverse plant habit make these widely adaptable landscape plants. Many of the new hybrids have been selected with an eye for stunning flowers as well as good stem strength. Used in mixed perennial borders with at least six hours of sunlight, to a full day of sun. Will grow in USDA zones 3-8. Some herbaceous peonies will grow and bloom in zone 9, but must be planted just below the soil surface. Difficult to establish in zone 9 due to dryness and lack of winter dormancy.
Intersectional or ‘itoh’ hybrid peonies
These are hybrids between tree and herbaceous peonies. Well formed bushes grow to 3-4 ft. tall and wide.
Landscape uses: Well suited for mixed perennial borders or foundation plantings. The plants require 6 hours or more of sunlight. The foliage is attractive from early spring to the hard frost. The foliage will die back in late autumn and is cut down, to re-emerge in the spring. Clumps get larger over time. For USDA zones 4-9.