Archive for June, 2016


The peony bloom continues at Cricket Hill Garden. As we enter week 5, all tree peonies but one have finished blooming, while the late season herbaceous peonies and a few cultivars of the hybrid intersectional or ‘Itoh’ peonies are still looking very good. Overall, this has been a good spring for blooms, though the very hot weather we had two weeks ago sped up the latter half of the season. Compared with last year, we are about a week ahead in terms of bloom timing. By next week, the first week of summer, most peony petals will have fallen, leaving us the memories of spring flowers and the anticipation of a new summer’s bounty. In the past few years here at Cricket Hill, we have expanded our focus to include growing many new berry bushes and edible fruits, so there is something to look forward to all through the growing season.


‘Themis,’ a late season tree peony hybridized by Nassos Daphnis.

twinkling gl

Twinkling of the Golden Light‘ still shines.

richesand honor

Riches and Honor,’ a Chinese variety of herbaceous peony with perfectly formed double blossoms on a compact shrub with strong stems.

sword dance

Though the primary blossoms have passed on many cultivars, some like ‘Sword Dance’ have secondary side buds which are now blooming.


Garden Lace‘ is a cultivar hybridized by the great peony breeder and nurseryman Don Hollingsworth. This variety holds up well in the sun and rain. The blossoms persist for over ten days.


‘Best of Velvet Blossoms’ is a Chinese variety which we need to build up stock on before we can offer it for sale.

garden trasure

Garden Treasure‘ a long blooming,  intersectional or ‘Itoh’ peony. Plants produce many buds and has a prolonged bloom as flowers take turns opening.


Bartzella‘  is another intersectional peony, a show stopper,  with 8-9″ flowers.


After the blooms on your peonies are past, please deadhead the spent blooms. Cut the dead flower back to to first good leaf, usually trimming about 6-8 inches of stem. The patient and adventurous gardener may want to try growing peonies from seed, in which case you leave some seed pods to fully develop. See our article here on growing peonies from seed.


We’re about more than just peonies at Cricket Hill Garden. Summer brings the bounty of fruits and berries from our collection of landscape edibles. Right now our elderberries are in full bloom.



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The early June rain, which is so vital to all growing plants, is putting a bit of a damper on the finale to the peony bloom season at Cricket Hill Garden. We need the rain, but are sorry to see it hit the blooms. The garden umbrellas do help prolong the bloom; we could use many more.

Right now we are seeing the lactiflora type herbaceous peonies. This species originally comes from China, but has been widely cultivated in Europe and North America since the 19th century. Lactiflora herbaceous peonies are what many gardeners think of as peonies. They tend to grow to about 3′ x 3′, have single to large double flowers and a sweet or clove like fragrance. Many of these varieties also have weak stems and are better suited to grow as cut flowers than landscape plants. We do have several varieties with strong stems that stand up well without support. This is an excellent characteristic which we always make note of in individual variety descriptions.

coral sunset

Coral Sunset‘ hybrid which gets its tall statue from its lactiflora parentage. 

coral sunset1

Coral Sunset‘ makes a stunning cut flower.

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Minnie Shaylor‘ a classic variety registered in 1919.


This is a new seedling which we will be naming this year.


Our new seedling has strong stems and holds up well in the rain.

golden purple sunset

Golden Purple Sunset‘ a Chinese variety with a complex flower.

gps shrub1

Golden Purple Sunset‘ has stout stems and is not bowed over by the monsoon-like ‘peony rains’ we have had this year.

le cygne

Le Cygne‘ is an old variety from France, excellent as a cut flower, very fragrant, classic full double form, but it needs stem support in the garden.

lotus and moss

Lotus and Moss‘ showing its different flower forms.

twinkling of the GL

Twinkling of the Golden Light,’ an excellent Chinese variety. 

sword danc3e1

‘Dragon’s Nest’

sword dance

‘Dragon’s Nest’ in the nursery. 


I have more beautiful photos to share, but I’m going to take a cue from Miles the cat and take a rest.




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We’ve been zipping around the nursery this week like the honey bees we are so happy to see. Our window of time for documenting the bloom is always short; by the ephemeral nature of the flowers, taking care garden guests and customers, as well as the omnipresent (barely) controlled chaos of running a small business. Fortunately the weather has cooperated, cooling from the hot and muggy mess of last week. We anticipate a fantastic finale to the 2016 peony season with good weather for viewing the herbaceous and intersectional peonies. Here’s a look at what’s been blooming in the nursery this past week. Enjoy!

The late season tree peonies… A few cultivars of Chinese rockiis held on into late last week. The majority of tree peonies now blooming are the hybrids. The first generation of these hybrids were crosses between cultivated Chinese and Japanese tree peonies with their wild ancestor, Paeonia lutea. They come in a range of mesmerizing colors, from bright yellow, to glowing apricot and peach, and soft silver. While the flowers are not as large as the traditional Chinese and Japanese varieties, these hybrids have a style all their own.

happy days

‘Happy Days’ (Saunders, 1948)

black panther

‘Black Panther’ (Saunders, 1948)


‘Vesuvian’ (Saunders, 1948)


‘Kronos’  (Daphnis, 1978)

silver sails

‘Silver Sails’


‘Alice Harding’ A beautiful flower, but it hangs badly with weak stems. Not a plant we are currently propagating.


One might ask: a peony so ugly we had to cover the blooms with paper bags?….no, no…For the last few years, we have been doing some intentional hybrid crosses of our own. Our goal is to create larger hybrid tree peonies which hold their flowers more upright. We hope to achieve this by using some of our outstanding varieties of Chinese rockii tree peonies as the pollen parent.

Intersectional hybrids (crosses between tree and herbaceous peonies) also started to bloom this week.


‘Court Jester’

dragon claw

‘Dragon Claw’

And now for the early to mid- season herbaceous peonies

scarlet ohara

‘Scarlet O’Hara’ 



Seedlings of P. lactiflora herbaceous peony. We collect the seeds from these plants and grow out the plants to use as our rootstock for grafting tree peonies. 

Just to prove that we grow more than peonies at Cricket Hill Garden, here’s a look at whats happening in orchard.


Mulberries are already forming. These will be ripe later this month.


Looks like there was good pollination on our pawpaws this year. 


European elderberries (S. nigra) are in bloom.

ladybiug on zhe

Two natives to East Asia; the che and the ladybug reunited on a hillside in Thomaston, CT. 





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