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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

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!

A bee staggers out     of the peony. Basho

a bee
staggers out
of the peony
~Basho

a rice bowl  filled to the brim  one peony ~ Buson

a rice bowl
filled to the brim
one peony
~ Buson

what peonies!  one poem per flower  will not do ~ Ryumin

what peonies!
one poem per flower
will not do
~ Ryumin

the feeling of  being drunk with tea thanks to peony ~ Chisoku

the feeling of
being drunk with tea
thanks to peony
~ Chisoku

the peony flower:   it's a woman with plenty of meat on her bones ~ hakuo

the peony flower:
it’s a woman with plenty
of meat on her bones
~ Hakuo

the applause   of one and all shower the peony ~ Issa

the applause
of one and all shower
the peony
~ Issa

for peony blossom viewing  a pale kimono is good and chinese tea   ~ Torin

for peony blossom viewing
a pale kimono is good
and chinese tea
~ Torin

half a mind to dress up and bow down to the peony ~ Shiki

half a mind
to dress up and bow down
to the peony
~ Shiki

though mine I hesitate to pluck the peonies ~ Baishitsu

though mine
I hesitate to pluck
the peonies
~ Baishitsu

that peony!  I want to dash cold water on her face ~ Kaken

that peony!
I want to dash cold water
on her face
~ Kaken

If you crave more peony related poetry, see our previous posts on peonies in Japanese, Chinese and English language poetry.

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.

'Golden Purple Sunset' Chinese herbaceous peony. This variety, with its smaller flowers and strong stems does not require staking, making it an excellent choice for landscape plantings.

Golden Purple Sunset‘ 紫霞间金 Chinese herbaceous peony. This variety, with its smaller flowers and strong stems does not require staking, making it an excellent choice for landscape plantings.

'Twinkling of the Golden Light' is another Chinese herbaceous peony which holds its flowers well without staking.

Twinkling of the Golden Light‘ 金光闪烁 is another Chinese herbaceous peony which holds its flowers well without staking.

sd

Sword Dance‘ is another anemone form herbaceous peony which has strong stems.

'Golden Wheel' is a rare Chinese herbaceous peony which is a true pure yellow without a hint of red.

Golden Wheel‘ 黄金轮 is a rare Chinese herbaceous peony which is a true pure yellow without a hint of red.

'Purple Phoenix Feather' is an incredibly fragrant Chinese herbaceous peony.

Purple Phoenix Feather‘ 紫风羽 is an incredibly fragrant Chinese herbaceous peony.

'Yang Gui Fei Steps Out of the Bath' is a Chinese herbaceous peony named after an famous and infamous courtesan of the Tang dynasty. To this day, Yang is remembered as being or 'pale and plump', a fitting description for this luscious flower.

Yang Gui Fei Steps Out of the Bath‘ 贵妃出浴 is a Chinese herbaceous peony named after an famous and infamous courtesan of the Tang dynasty. To this day, Yang is remembered as being 白白胖胖 or ‘pale and plump’, a fitting description for this luscious flower.

'Batzella' intersectional or 'Itoh' peony. This is perhaps our favorite yellow peony of any type.

Bartzella‘ intersectional or ‘Itoh’ peony. This is perhaps our favorite yellow peony of any type.

In addition to being an excellent landscape plant, Bartzella's 8-9'' blossoms also make for a unsurpassed cut flowers.

In addition to being an excellent landscape plant, Bartzella’s 8-9” blossoms also make for a unsurpassed cut flowers.

Now is the time to deadhead peonies which have finished blooming if you do not wish to save any seed. Deadheading allows the plant to concentrate its energy on creating next year's flower buds. See our video on how to deadhead your peonies.

Now is the time to deadhead peonies which have finished blooming if you do not wish to save any seed. Deadheading allows the plant to concentrate its energy on creating next year’s flower buds. See our video on how to deadhead your peonies.

This year we tried a number of intentional crosses. Hopefully we have some exciting new hybrid peonies to show you in 5 or 6 years...

This year we tried a number of intentional crosses. The paper bags prevented the bees from bringing additional pollen to the stigma’s of this hand pollinated blossom. Hopefully we have some exciting new hybrid peonies to show you in 5 or 6 years…

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.

butterfly

Great Winged Butterfly 大葉蝴蝶

DSCN0158_3

We consider this tree peony to be one of our most promising seedlings. We grafted it for the first time last fall and hope to offer it for sale in a year or two.

DSCN0422

When working in the garden, we frequently get lost in the flowers….

early herb

Early season herbaceous peonies bloom with the later Chinese tree peonies.

great peace red

Great Peace Red 太平紅

kam ruby

A beautiful Cricket Hill Garden seedling tree peony. We call this one “Kamran’s Ruby”.

red of djc

Red of Dianjiang County 墊江紅

robes of the court

Robes of the Imperial Court 朝衣

sculptures

Mundy Hepburn’s garden glass survived a very hard winter and looks beautiful in the garden this spring.

smiling in the thicket

Smiling in the Thicket 叢中笑

swp

Snow White Princess 白雪公主

view

Our new garden umbrellas did a marvelous job of protecting the delicate blossoms.

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.

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Don’t be fooled by the snazzy packing of ‘their’ peony. What’s the horticultural  equivalent of ‘lipstick on a pig?’

kgujgkgku

You don’t need much gardening experience to see the stark difference in the quality of these two plants. Not only is our ‘Cora Louise‘ much bigger, it is also so much fresher and healthier. This is a what a dormant peony should look like.

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We try our best to educate our customers and any interested gardener on how to successfully grow peonies. Our youtube channel has videos on planting as well as care of peonies.  If you have further questions you can always call us at (860) 283 1042 or email us at kasha@treepeony.com. We are dedicated to helping you grow beautiful peonies!

The banner says it all.

The banner says it all.

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.

Tree peonies in our sales area.

We will have a fine selection of potted peonies for sale at the nursery this spring.

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 kasha@treepeony.com 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.

wdrfaec

The area around the Litchfield green offers antiques, art galleries and good restaurants.

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

In selecting peonies to add to your garden, its important to know when they will bloom.

April through early May

The anticipation builds...

The anticipation builds…

May 15th to late May

Early Chinese tree peonies and hybrid herbaceous peonies.

Early Chinese tree peonies and hybrid herbaceous peonies.

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

Tree peonies blooming at Cricket Hill Garden. Here we ahve interplanted hosta, and allowed some digitalis to self-seed.

Peak bloom period at Peony Heaven. Chinese, Japanese and hybrid tree peonies all blooming. Mid-season herbaceous and early interesectional peonies also in flower.

 

June 10th to 21st

Late season P. lactiflora herbaceous and intersectional (Itoh) hybrid peonies.

Late season P. lactiflora herbaceous and intersectional (Itoh) hybrid peonies.

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 kasha@treepeony.com or call (860) 283 1042 for up-to-date peony bloom information.

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