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It’s been a beautiful autumn thus far in northwestern Connecticut, with warm sunny days punctuated by just enough rain to moisten the soil in time for fall planting.

The warm weather will hopefully continue for another week or two and ripen these black figs. We find that lighter colored figs, such as our own 'Silver Dollar' variety ripen earlier and more rilable in our climate.

The warm weather will hopefully continue for another week or two and ripen these black figs. We find that lighter colored figs, such as our own ‘Silver Dollar’ variety ripen earlier and more reliable in our climate.

Its been a great year for many of our fruit trees. We don't harvest these crab apples, but leave them for the intrepid song birds will have striped the tree bare by winter.

Its been a great year for many of our fruit trees. We don’t harvest these crab apples, but leave them for the intrepid song birds will have striped the tree bare by winter.

Quince paste is on the list of weekend projects.

Quince paste is on the list of weekend projects.

'Anne' fall bearing raspberries will continue to produce until the frost. Unfortunately the spotted wing drosophila, an invasive fly, arrived in our raspberry patch this summer. The populations seem to have decreased now that the weather has cooled off.

‘Anne’ fall bearing raspberries will continue to produce until the frost. Unfortunately the spotted wing drosophila, an invasive pest, arrived in our raspberry patch this summer. The populations seem to have decreased now that the weather has cooled off.

Curing seed of our favorite Chinese cucumber. We have saved this seed for years.

Curing seed of our favorite Chinese cucumber. We have saved this seed for years.

Its no peony, but the rugosa rose we planted in the orchard is pretty spectacular on its third flush of blooms this season. Its magnate for bees.

Its no peony, but the rugosa rose we planted in the orchard is pretty spectacular on its third flush of blooms this season. It’s a magnet for bees.

Nesturtiums provide some late season color in the garden and spark to our salads.

Nasturtiums provide some late season color in the garden and spark to our salads.

Persimmons in need of planting. Another weekend project....

Persimmons in need of planting. Another weekend project….

Planting peony seeds as soon as they are ripe gives them time to germinate in the fall. This herbaceous peony will take off next spring.

Planting peony seeds as soon as they are ripe gives them time to germinate in the fall. The white root radical is visible on this herbaceous peony seed which was planted about a month ago.

We are busy planting our tree peony grafts...

We are busy planting our tree peony grafts…

A page out of our propogation log book.

A page out of our propagation record book.

A grafted tree peony planted a few weeks ago is confused by the warm weather and has begun to grow. It needs to be tucked back in (covered in soil) and told to go back to sleep until March.

A grafted tree peony planted a few weeks ago is confused by the warm weather and has begun to grow. It needs to be tucked back in (covered in soil) and told to go back to sleep until March.

Planted graft beds. We are commited to growing our peonies without herbacides and spend countless days a season weeding our nursery beds. This year we are using more plastic in hopes of cutting down on our weeding next season. Though we would prefer not to use

Planted graft beds. We are committed to growing our peonies without herbicides and spend countless days a season weeding our nursery beds. This year we are using more plastic in hopes of cutting down on our weeding next season.

We at Cricket Hill Garden will be taking our beautiful plants and delicious mushrooms on the road this summer, traveling to farmers’ markets all over Connecticut. Below you will find a our summer 2015 farmers’ market schedule. We hope to see you at one of more of these fabulous markets.

IMG_42957/15 Wilton Farmers’ Market

7/16 Westport Farmers’ Market

7/18 Norfolk Farmers’ Market

7/22 Keep it Local Wednesdays Torrington Farmers’ Market

7/23 Southbury Farmers’ Market

7/25 New Haven Wooster Square Farmers’ Market

7/30 Clinton Farmers’ Market

8/5 Old Greenwich Farmers’ Market

8/8 Milford Farmers Market

8/12 Wilton Farmers Market

8/13 Westport Farmers’ Market

8/15 Litchfield Farmers’ Market

8/20 Southbury Farmers’ Market

8/22 New Haven Wooster Square Farmers’ Market

8/27 Clinton Farmers’ Market

8/30 Coventry Farmers’ Market

9/2 Old Greenwich Farmers’ Market

9/5 Norfolk Farmers’ Market

9/10 Westport Farmers’ Market

9/16 Wilton Farmers’ Market

9/17 Southbury Farmers’ Market

9/19 New Haven Wooster Square Farmers’ Market

9/20 Coventry Farmers’ Market

For years we have grown herbaceous peonies from seed. We have a large collection of cultivars from a number of different species of herbaceous peonies, so our open-pollinated seeds have yielded some beautiful new plants. Have a look at some of our favorites from the test garden below.

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Though we are honored and humbled to be known as Peony Heaven, we grow (and sell) a lot more than just peonies here at Cricket Hill Garden. Over the last few years we have added many interesting edible landscaping plants to our garden and orchard. Some of these younger plants are beginning to come into bearing this year. These trees, with the more established pear and apple trees in the garden add up to much salivation in anticipation of the harvest to come.

Before we forget about peonies, its worth noting the 'Cora Louise' intersectional peony has had a very long bloom this year.

Before we forget about peonies, its worth noting the ‘Cora Louise’ intersectional peony has had a very long bloom this year.

This was another great week for our shiitake mushrooms.

This was another great week for our shiitake mushrooms.

We were happy to sell our entire crop this week to some very fine Connecticut resturants.

We were happy to sell our entire crop this week to some very fine local resturants.

We are looking forward to what looks to be a fine crop of 'Taylor' red raspberries ripening in about two weeks.

We are looking forward to what looks to be a fine crop of ‘Taylor’ red raspberries ripening in about two weeks.

Our native Connecticut cactus, prickely pear or Opituna humufusa, is getting ready to bloom.

Our native Connecticut cactus, the eastern prickly pear (Opuntia humifusa), is getting ready to bloom.

Mullberries are starting to ripen.

Mulberries are starting to ripen.

Two seperate visitors asked this week: "Is that a avacado?" We were happy to reply, that no, its a pawpaw! We think these trees look great in the landscape with their tropical-like foliage.

Two different visitors asked this week: “Is that a avocado?” We were happy to reply, that no, its a pawpaw! We think these trees look great in the landscape with their tropical-like foliage.

Nanking cherries (P. tomentosa) will be ripe in a few weeks. With the late spring this year and no frosts after the bloom we have a great fruit set.

Nanking cherries (P. tomentosa) will be ripe in a few weeks. With the late spring this year and no frosts after the bloom we have a great fruit set.

One of the more unusual fruits in our orchard, the 'Norris' che. This mulberry relative bears red fruit which taste like a combination of fig and watermelon.

One of the more unusual fruits in our orchard, the ‘Norris’ che. This mulberry relative bears red fruit which taste like a combination of fig and watermelon.

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Our ‘Chapin’ pear has a good fruit set this year.

'Hosui' Japanese pear. We grow our asian pears as 'no-spray' and are able to harvest delicious fruit with little insect damage  in late summer.

‘Hosui’ Japanese pear. We grow our Asian pears as ‘no-spray’ and are able to harvest delicious fruit with little insect damage in late summer.

Rhubarb in the garden, sharing a bed with red romaine lettece and nestersiums.

Rhubarb in the veggie garden, sharing a bed with red romaine lettuce and nasturtiums.

'Northern Spy' apple fruitlets. With the dry spring this year, the apple trees are not infected with scab or apple cedar rust.

‘Northern Spy’ apple fruitlets. With the dry spring this year, the apple trees are not infected with scab or apple cedar rust.

'Adams' American elderberry just coming into bloom.

‘Adams’ American elderberry  just coming into bloom.

'Samdal,' a European variety of elderberry has already blossomed and set fruit.

‘Samdal,’ a European variety of elderberry has already blossomed and set fruit.

Breba frist crop figs on our 'Silver Dollar' fig tree. These early figs will be ripe in July.

Breba first crop figs on our ‘Silver Dollar’ fig tree. These early figs will be ripe in July.

This week saw the hatch of hundreds of thousands of toads around our top pond.

This week we noticed hundreds of thousands of recently metamorphosed juvenile toads around our ponds. We love to see these garden allies in such abundance.

 

 

Its been a great season for us thus far at Cricket Hill Garden. As always, its a pleasure to see old friends and meet new ones in the garden. The late season herbaceous and intersectional peonies will continue to bloom for another two weeks, so if you are in the neighborhood we would love to see you in the garden this month. As the pictures below illustrate, there is still plenty to delight the senses at Peony Heaven.

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Bartzella‘ our favorite yellow intersectional peony.

'Bartzella' really does have dinner plate sized blossoms!

Bartzella‘ really does have dinner plate sized blossoms!

Another perrenial standout is the intersectional 'Cora Louise'

Another perennial standout is the intersectional ‘Cora Louise’

'High Noon'

High Noon‘ will grow well in more shade than most peonies. One advantage to planting it in such a location is a very long bloom period, two weeks and counting on this specimen.

'Garden Treasure' shimming in the late afternoon.

Garden Treasure‘ shimmering in the late afternoon sunshine.

'Maiden's Dress' rivals any peony in sumptuious appeal. It's blooms are large, luscious and oh so fragrant!

Maiden’s Dress‘ rivals any peony in sumptuous appeal. It’s blooms are large, luscious and oh so fragrant!

'Riches and Honor'. The name of this peony in Chinese is one of many name given to these flowers.

Riches and Honor‘. The name of this peony in Chinese, 富貴 fu gui or ‘wealth and status’ is one of many august titles accorded to peonies. The name signifies the high regard with which the breeder held this cultivar.

'Cao Zhou Red'

Cao Zhou Red‘ originated from the famous peony growing city of Heze in Shandong province. It is one of the tallest growing herbaceous peonies we grow, with stems reaching 4’ tall.

'Golden Wheel'

Golden Wheel‘ is one of the most sought after cultivars of herbaceous peony. We only have a few of this rare variety available this season.

'Purple Rose' is an excellent late blooming dark purple-red cultivar. Its a low growing plant with strong stems and does not require staking or support.

Purple Rose‘ is an excellent late blooming dark purple-red cultivar. Its a low growing plant with strong stems and does not require staking or support.

'Purple Phoenix Feather,' one of our favorites.

Purple Phoenix Feather,’ one of our favorites.

'Minnie Shaylor' happily co-existing with milkweed.

Minnie Shaylor‘ happily co-existing with milkweed.

Kasha and her beautiful display of peonies under our sales tent.

Kasha with a display of herbaceous peonies under our sales tent.

As part of our new venture growing shiitake mushrooms, soaking logs has become a weekly task. Most logs are contained within easy reach of the shore.

As part of our new venture growing shiitake mushrooms, soaking logs has become a weekly task. Most logs are contained within easy reach of the shore.

One log escaped, one of our resident painted turtles coralled it for us.

A log escaped the enclosure, but luckily one of our resident painted turtles corralled it for us.

With the seemingly interminable winter, and ice which persisted into mid-April in shady spots, it seemed as if the peony bloom would never arrive. In New England we like to joke ‘if you don’t like the weather, wait 10 minutes.’ This has been true with our transition from winter to summer. Spring seems like an afterthought after two weeks of weather in 70s, 80s and even a few days earlier this week around 90. Needless to say, this summer-like weather of the last few weeks has rushed the season along. This past weekend, we still had forsythia blooming, even as the lilacs and peonies began to open. While its been very dry, and we could use a good rain, now that the peony bloom has come, we hope that the dry weather continues.

The first peonies to open were P. japonica, the woodland herbaceous species from Japan.

The first peonies to open were P. japonica, the woodland herbaceous species from Japan.

P. mlokosewitschii, the rare yellow species herbaceous peony from the Caucasus.

P. mlokosewitschii, the rare yellow species herbaceous peony from the Caucasus.

p. veitchii

P. anomala, an exceedingly attractive and easy to grow species herbaceous peony from Northeastern Russia.

We have seen some aborted blossoms on the early blooming tree peonies. This happens in years like this, with very hot and dry temperatures in the lead up to the bloom.

We have seen some aborted blossoms on the early blooming tree peonies. This happens in years like this, with very hot and dry temperatures in the lead up to the bloom. Luckily only a few flowers per plant are affected by aborted petal formation.

Another effect of the rushed spring is that some double formed cultivars are blooming as semi-doubles. This variety, 'Apple Gorgeous' is just that, in either double or semi-double form.

Another effect of the rushed spring is that some double formed cultivars are blooming as semi-doubles. This variety, ‘Apple Gorgeous’ shows a semi-double form this spring.

'Blue Sapphire' is a perennial favorite. We were struck this year how fragrant the blossoms are.

Blue Sapphire‘ is a perennial favorite. We were struck this year how fragrant the blossoms are.

'Caozhou Red' a very slow growing dwarf tree peony from Heze, in Shandong province. Its a stingy bloomer, but oh, what a color!

‘Caozhou Red’ a very slow growing dwarf tree peony from Heze, in Shandong province. Its a stingy bloomer, but oh, what a color!

'Champion Fragrance' one of the few early blooming dark red-maroon Chinese tree peonies.

‘Champion Fragrance’ one of the few early blooming dark red-maroon Chinese tree peonies.

'Era of Purple,' always our first Japanese tree peony to bloom.

‘Era of Purple,’ always our first Japanese tree peony to bloom.

'Jade Seal of Sate,' a tree peony in the classical Chinese form.

‘Jade Seal of State,’  is an old classical Chinese, very slow growing with few flowers.

'Number One Scholar's Red.' This Chinese tree peony cultivar dates to at least the Qing dynasty.

‘Number One Scholar’s Red.’ This Chinese tree peony cultivar dates to at least the Qing dynasty.

'Supreme Pink' Chinese tree peony

Supreme Pink‘ Chinese tree peony

The exceedingly rare 'Wei's Purple.' This cultivar dates from the Song dynasty over 800 years ago!

The exceedingly rare ‘Wei’s Purple.’ This cultivar dates from the Song dynasty over 800 years ago!

'White Screen Reflects a Blue Jewel,' the first rockii type Chinese tree peony to bloom. Many many more to come!

‘White Screen Reflects a Blue Jewel,’ the first rockii type Chinese tree peony to bloom. Many many more to come!

shiitake care sheet

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