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Old 06-17-2011, 02:51 PM   #1
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I love peonies...

but I hate the ants...my grandma had peonies lining her front porch. What she taught me was to cut the peonies before they opened (so when they are close to opening, but not open). Before she'd go outside to cut the peonies (she'd look out the front window every morning to see if it was time), she'd fill the kitchen sink with cold water and vinegar. She'd cut the buds and bring them in. She'd dunk them in the sink to get rid of the ants. She'd then put the peonies in a vase. The next day, the peonies would be open. (If you add too much vinegar, they turn brown--I use about 1-1/2 quarts to a sink of water).

One of the first things my mom did after her mom died (in the month of May), was to dig up the peonies, irises, and bleeding heart. My mom moved those plants three times. At one of our houses in the city, I have transplants from those plants. I have divided them and given them to friends--insurance if mine die off, I can get my grandma's plants back.

Here at the farm, I have a huge (probably 50-60 yr. old) peony outside my office window. I have been watching it all week. Last night, around 7 o'clock, I went out and cut the "buds," dipped thiem in the water-vinegar wash, and put them in a crock and put the crock on the woodstove. When I got up this morning, the peonies were open. I just did another bouquet for my office...

My grandma also dressed her peonies with ashes from the woodstove. And, she never divided them. She was convinced doing so would kill them. However, I have transplanted peonies. I've also divided them. Even though it is recommended you do this in the fall, a friend dug out her peonies last June and was going to toss them. They were flowering. I planted them--doubtful. They came back this year. No flowers, but the roots survived. It often takes 3 years for peonies to flower after being transplanted. I'm hopeful that that plant will also flower sometime, just not this year.

I love peonies. They remind me of my grandma.
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Old 06-18-2011, 03:10 AM   #2
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Peonies are certainly nice and I can appreciate your sentimental attachment. However my mother had a 40' row of them that were a pain to weed. My favorite is a relatively maintenance free dogwood that's been in full bloom for some two weeks and whose flowers have pretty much gone from white to pink. Later this year the dogwood's berries will provide a feast for much of the local fauna.
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Old 06-18-2011, 05:22 AM   #3
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I don't fuss too much over the peonies...I just let them grow. I do dress them with bonemeal and the smaller ones have rings (the one at the farm is about 4 ft. across--there's no ring big enough to contain it). At the house in the city that has lots of perennials, the look I went for was "cottage garden" so the flowerbeds have that look and feel.

I've never planted dogwood...I've put that on my list for next year when I might be able to afford to reclaim the house in the city from the tenants.
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Old 06-18-2011, 08:06 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CWS4322 View Post
I don't fuss too much over the peonies...I just let them grow. I do dress them with bonemeal and the smaller ones have rings (the one at the farm is about 4 ft. across--there's no ring big enough to contain it). At the house in the city that has lots of perennials, the look I went for was "cottage garden" so the flowerbeds have that look and feel.

I've never planted dogwood...I've put that on my list for next year when I might be able to afford to reclaim the house in the city from the tenants.
The dogwood might better be planted on the farm, in that they can grow to a fair size. Ours is about 25' wide and 30' tall.
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Old 06-18-2011, 12:46 PM   #5
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Peonies are my absolute favorite flower--ours bloom about the first week of May, and I wait all year for them. I have quite a few old plants out front, surrounding an old concrete cistern--they are a really pale pink, almost white. I pick them by the armloads as soon as they open, and put vases in all the rooms of the house, and carry them to work, too.

Mine don't have too many ants on them, so I don't worry about that. Ants, contrary to popular opinion, are not necessary for blooms, nor do they hurt the flowers. They eat the sweet sap that exudes from the bud.

If you decide to plant a dogwood, be warned--especially in the East, they have been dying in droves from anthracnose. The disease is worst in humid, shady conditions, so if you plant one, make sure it is in sunny location with lots of good air circulation. I don't know if they have bred any anthracnose resistant varieties, but that would be worth checking out.
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Old 06-18-2011, 01:06 PM   #6
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My daughter got me hooked on peonies. I have about 10 of them now. I had one of them bloom some are singles others are doubles. Pink, red, pink/white all white so I am a beginning peony lover. do yours have any odor. Mine smell like heaven,
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