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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

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.

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