the peak of peony season.

I’ve returned from my visit out west a little blonder (thank you Sun In), and with a bit of a tan.  I wasn’t sure I would survive the heat (well over 100 degrees most days), and the sunshine feels a bit relentless to me out there (I love a good drizzly day in the garden).  My mom is doing much better though.  My sister and I helped her out with a few things while we were there, and her broken ankle is healing nicely according to the doctor we spoke with.

When we weren’t ferrying mom to appointments, replacing her screen door, and re-planting her pots (I seem to do this every time I visit, flowering annuals don’t last long in her climate, I’m trying moss roses this time around), we just floated in the pool at her townhouse complex.  It was definitely too hot to do any hiking, or really even much sight seeing.

Although it was relaxing, I was definitely ready to come home and get back to my painting projects!  And my garden!

When I scheduled the visit to my mom’s, I wasn’t really thinking about what I would be missing in the garden.  It wasn’t until shortly before we left that I realized I would likely miss the peak of peony season (which was a little late this year).

Jeesh!  I wait all year for the brief blooming period of those babies!  And I planned a trip smack in the middle of it.  What was I thinking?!

Before I left I grabbed a quick photo of my cutting garden …

My cutting garden, by the way, is out back behind the carriage house.  It’s a nice sunny south facing spot, and you can’t actually see any of it from the rest of our yard.  That makes it perfect for a cutting garden because you never feel guilty about cutting all of the flowers to bring inside.

Before I left for mom’s, the peony buds were just beginning to show some color.

And the siberian iris were just starting to open.

But I knew that some hot weather was headed for Minnesota while I was gone, and hot weather is the kiss of death for peony blooms.  Also apparently for the iris, because they were pretty much done when I returned.

So I decided to try a couple of peony saving measures.  First of all, I cut those few things that were already open.

I popped them into a jar of water, and put that in the fridge next to my peach sangria.

That actually worked quite well, when I got home the flowers still looked just as good as when they went in.

I also decided to save some peony buds in the fridge.  You may remember that I experimented with this process last year (for the full details, you can read that post here and the results of the experiment six weeks later are here).

So once again I cut stems with buds that were at the ‘soft bud’ stage, in other words they feel like a large marshmallow when you squish them a bit.

After removing all of the leaves, I simply popped them into a large Ziploc bag and then put them at the back of the fridge.  I’ll pull them out sometime in July and be able to enjoy peonies again then.

The first thing I did when I got up in the morning after returning home was check on the peonies.

Sure enough, quite a few of them were already spent.

But luckily I have a lot of peony plants, and quite a few of them still looked pretty good too.

Since the forecast for yesterday was hot and humid with a high of 96, and by today we’re supposed to have a high of 99 (ugh, did I bring it home from Nevada with me?), I decided to cut all of the open flowers and bring them in the house ahead of the heat wave.

I ended up with three very lovely arrangements.

The vibrant dark pink peonies went into an aqua vase, and I added in the irises that I’d saved in the fridge.

This arrangement is perfect for those who love a big pop of color.

I put the medium pink peonies into my paint inlay watering can.

Those medium pink peonies were growing in the garden here when we bought our house 34 years ago, and I suspect they’d been here for quite some time even then.  I eventually had to move them to a sunnier location, but they are still going strong.

Finally, I put mostly white peonies into one of my buckets.

I say ‘mostly white’ because in addition to the solid white peonies, I also have these gorgeous peonies that have just the tiniest hint of pink.

Personally, these are my favorite.  I love that delicate little bit of pink in the centers.  So pretty!

Unfortunately, I haven’t retained knowledge of most of the peony varieties that are in my garden with the exception of that one.  It’s called Raspberry Sundae.

My advice to you if you’re looking to add some peonies to your garden is to shop for them while they are in bloom.  Photos of the blooms seem to vary wildly, you want to be sure you know what you’re getting.

I’ve been toying with the idea of adding a yellow peony to my line up, maybe that will happen next year.

In the meantime, I’m going to bring all of these arrangements inside my air conditioned house and see if I can keep them looking good for another 4 or 5 days.

How about you?  Do you grow peonies?  Have you tried saving them in the fridge?  Have you got any other peony tips to share?  If so, be sure to leave a comment.

24 thoughts on “the peak of peony season.

  1. My friend had her peony bushes stripped of the blooms overnight. Seems they are popular for weddings this month and grad corsages. She lives close to a university.

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  2. I wanted to try this saving tip this year but we had a late frost and it spoiled my plans somewhat ☹️ What do you do to get rid of the ants on them? No matter what I try I always bring a few in and that leads to a whole colony😑. Yours are sure gorgeous. And so glad your visit with your mom went well and she is on the mend.

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    1. I really just try to shake them off as much as possible. I also did all of my arranging outside, so I could continue to flick off the ants. I usually do end up with a stray ant here and there, but that doesn’t bother me 😉

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  3. I adore peonies and was so happy to find I had a bush in the house I moved to a year ago. They are a very light pink, almost white and I would love to add a dark pink to the mix. The previous owner loved day lilys and I need to get rid of a bunch of them so I have room for another peony bush. No loss, they are everywhere and they are the orange only so buhbye to them! The only issue I had with them this year is a rough storm beat most of them up. Oh and how do you keep the ants off them so you don’t bring them into the house? Your arrangements are heavenly BTW.

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    1. We are birds of a feather Laura. I ruthlessly ripped out an entire patch of orange day lilies earlier this spring. I’d had them forever, and I never really liked them! Life is too short to keep plants you don’t love, right? So far I’ve replaced them with some tall garden phlox, but I think I may put some astilbe in that spot as well. As for the ants, see my reply to Sheri 😉

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  4. The peony arrangements are beautiful! Love your containers, especially the watering can. My only peony is white with a few specks of pink. I really enjoy picking them for arrangements, so am thinking of adding more.

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  5. Peonies are the most beautiful flowers. You have a stunning collection. Love all the arrangements you put together. The watering can is absolutely charming and the colors are so you. Did you use a transfer on the bucket? I would like to try to do that on my watering can. No peonies at this home unfortunately. We left two at our last house. I will always regret that. They were from my husband’s grandmothers gardens.
    Sorry to hear about your mom’s ankle – I’ve done that twice no fun. But good to hear she is on the mend.

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  6. Glad you are back and your mom is doing well!! Every year, without fail, we get a huge rainstorm that beats down all the peonies before they are thru. So, THIS year, I cut them all almost as soon as they opened or were about to open. I had three huge bouquets, all in my bathroom (the cats eat them otherwise and we shut the bathroom door – it’s a big bathroom!) and they lasted for about two weeks and smelled heavenly! I felt bad cutting them all, but I sure enjoyed them inside!

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  7. Wow, the color saturation of that aqua vase arrangement is amazing but I think the mostly white arrangement in the “Frenchy” bucket is my favorite! So beautiful! Glad to hear Mom is on the mend and that you and your sister were able to be there to help her out.

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  8. This post really hit home. This year, for the first time, we have a lake home and split our time between town and country. But each time I’m gone I miss part of my garden blooming. This past trip I cut all the blooming and ready to bloom peonies and made a large bouquet and brought it with me to the lake to enjoy. On the bright side I’m discovering flowers at our lake place I don’t have at home. The pretty delicate Douglas Iris, the huge blooms of Bigleaf Lupine and unfortunately, poison Ivy.

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  9. I have a similar peony to yours, it’s called Strawberry Sundae, and has a small streak of very dark pink in it, smaller than the one on yours. Must be from the same peony breeder!

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