Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tuesday Tip

Peony care, enjoyment and a little history.  Over the weekend the large white balls of my Duchesse de Nemours' peonies began to open and unveil their beautiful layers of fragrant white petals. These lovelies that are the first to bloom first are definate royalty in my garden, showing off what looks like the finest white ruffled satin petticoats.


The peony was once considered too vulgar and common in 17th-century England because wealthy aristocrats thought any self-respecting gardener should never grow a plant that would last a lifetime!  Most varieties can last 50 years or more.  Thankfully, for all of us who love peonies, there were plenty of vulgar and common types who happily cultivated more and more varities of this garden favorite.


For my peonies, I like to honor both the common and aristocratic attributes of their centuries old history.  As soon as most of the blooms have began to open, I cut them and arrange them outside.  For this arrangement, I used the most common baskets with glass liners to place them in and then set them on top of elegant pale blue brackets with gilt details for an aristocratic touch.  These brackets flank the interior entrance to my dining room.  The heavenly perfume wafts into the foyer and can be enjoyed by all who pass!




White peonies range in color from cream to bright white.  Here is what a Gardenia peony looks like...a combination of two of my favorite flowers!

                                                        
Cutting tips:
It is recommended that peonies be cut when the bud is just opening.  Don't cut all the leaves off the stem, otherwise the plant will not survive.  You can refrigerate peonies that have opened without water for up to a week...just like the florist does! Re-cut the stems before arranging.  I use filtered water from the fridge to fill the vase or container.

Tips on dealing with  ants:
Ants love peonies because of the sweet, sticky nectar.  To keep them away, I have found it helps to keep the heavy blooms far off the ground with peony rings, cut before they are fully open early on cool mornings and arrange them outside!  Lastly, give them a quick blow dry on the cool setting before bringing them in!!! Oh, and keep them out of the kitchen and away from food!

Photos courtesy of A&A 

34 comments:

  1. wonderful tips and information....a friend gave me some large, white peonies over the weekend and I have really enjoyed them. Their scent is so lovely...

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  2. While I love peonies, I will admit I didn't know much about them before. Such an informative post! If only I had pretty peony plants (shrubs? tress?) and room in my fridge! Marija

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  3. Thank you for the tip that they can be cut just as they begin to open. I will cut two tomorrow! I only have one plant--about 10 years old now. Peonies are not very common in Dallas. I ordered my plant by mail.

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  4. GREAT information on one of my most favorite, old-fashioned flowers! I have three in my garden; two are true pink and the other is fushia. They are all over 10 years old and I LOVE them. Thank you for the great cutting and care instructions which will allow me to enjoy them {and NOT the ants} as long as possible.
    Happy Tuesday! xx P&H

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  5. I need to add some of these to my garden...pronto! These are brilliant!

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  6. I so appreciate your tips. I have loved and revered peonies for as long as I can remember. Your photos were so pretty and I must say now I am an even bigger fan of the white ones. I only wish we could grow them in Texas!

    All my best to you for a great rest of this week. x deb

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  7. Those pale blue brackets are a great idea. Very elegant with the peonies!

    May I offer a tidbit to go with your Tuesday tips? After you wash each vase, be sure to swirl some bleach in it and rinse again. This will kill any lingering bacteria in the vase, which are the culprits that shorten the life of flowers.

    Cheers, Ann

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  8. Peonies are so beautiful, they remind me of wedding gowns.

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  9. Oops... I keep messing up on my comment. I hope you don't get multiples. :)

    Your peonies are GORGEOUS. I used to grow them in different shades of pink. It would be awesome if they grow here in TX, will ck it out. Also, I heard about cutting them and leaving them outside for the night to get rid of the ants... I don't know why that would work, but that was what I heard before.

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  10. They are just the most delicious flowers to cut. I try to fill the house with them in May. Unfortunately, I have too much shade to grow my own. But the flower market knows me well!

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  11. Absolutely gorgeous!! I only wish that I could grow these in my area but it is too warm here. I will just have to come here and look at yours, Kathysue

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  12. That last sentence made me giggle. I had this sudden image of the peony leaning down and grabbing the food!
    We used to have a large double pink peony tree. It was absolutely beautiful!
    Alas we cannot grow them here just too hot.

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  13. I love and appreciate all the tips that are shared...always good to learn something new!

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  14. This sounds like a good plant for me, since I have a black thumb and rely only on hearty perennials for our yard, which can survive with utter neglect by me. My mom has peonies, and I've always loved them. Thanks for sharing!

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  15. Oh! I Sooooo miss peonies. I think the most, of all the plants and flowers in our NY garden!

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  16. Love the history lesson. I've got them all over my yard, several varieties. And, have a few sitting in my kitchen at the moment in a simple vase.

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  17. Lovely arrangements and great tips on cutting. I cut mine in the morning, but, will try a nighttime snip or two now.

    I have several different kinds of peonies, and love each one. I had a white one, Sarah Bernhardt, in our previous home and miss it so. It is white, with a slight pink tip and is so aromatic! I think I will have to get another AND a Gardenia one you so nicely display.

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  18. I love love love peopnies - my grandmother used to have a long garden - I would say about 12 feet long of just peonies and another of Iris. I have 2 and this is the first year they have begun to bloom - happy me! Now for the really great news - my friend has a shady yard with a whole bunch of them that she has offered to ME - how cool is that! Stop by some time, jennsthreegraces Jennifer white peonies mmmmmmm

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  19. Nancy from AlabamaMay 12, 2010 at 1:44 PM

    I adore peonies and have to say your letter to your son brought tears to my husband's eyes. He said he finally GOT what leaving my career and staying home for the last 25 years has meant to me. When graduation is over Sunday, I will be an Empty Nester.

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  20. Absolutely gorgeous -- and I love how you've displayed them in your home. I'm going to ask my landscaper (who is coming tomorrow to help us draw up a plan) to incorporate some peonies into the yard!

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  21. peonies are absolutely my favorite flower, hands down. That gardenia version is quite breathtaking, I have to admit that I'm green with envy over the bounty you have in your yard! And thanks for the tips...I had been stripping the leaves off totally unawares. I'll leave them intact going forward.

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  22. I just love peonies. Thanks for the tip. I plan to plant some in my new garden!

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  23. I love peonies! Just picked a bunch from my garden and they're all over the house!!!!

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  24. A gardenia peony. Who knew!? Love it!

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  25. love your peonies-thanks for the background info!

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  26. I really love the site of peony blooms.
    Wonderful post!

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  27. This is so good to know, even though we cannot grow peonies in Texas, I love love love them, and you gave us some excellent tips for keeping them beautiful for longer. xx's

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  28. Thank you for the tips and the history! I have long loved peonies and my first bush is about to open up! We'll see how we do...Im a little nervous about my green thumb :)

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  29. They are just beautiful. Thanks for the wonderful tip.

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  30. please.
    call me vulgar.
    i love peonies.

    xx

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  31. Gorgeousness! I simply adore peonies, and your images are lovely.

    Have a wonderful weekend!
    Anne

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  32. Your peonies are so stunning and I absolutely love how you have styled them! They are my favorite flower. Thanks so much for your kind and supportive comment. Have a wonderful wknd. xo

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  33. Hi, stopping by from Posy Pocket. I really enjoyed my visit to your site. What you did with the peonies was inventive (and I appreciated the bit of historical context). :)

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