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I Have Peonies!

June 12, 2010

I have long wanted to grow peonies (Paeonia lactiflora) in my garden, but two things kept me from doing so. First, I knew that the long-lived peonies should be sited carefully in a location where they could continue to grow for decades, and I simply didn’t have a suitable place to put them. Second, I was intimidated by peonies; there seemed to be so many warnings about the dangers of planting them at the wrong depth, of not fertilizing them enough, of susceptibility to disease, etc.

Paeonia 'Monsieur Jules Elie' (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) I solved the first problem by designing a new flower bed for the back garden, the fence border, with peonies in mind. Then I dealt with the second issue, the intimidation factor, by getting a master-gardener friend who has a wonderful collection of peonies in her garden, to give me a lesson in dividing, planting and growing peonies (see Peony Lesson). Along with the lesson, my friend gave me a division of my favorite peony from her garden, the beautiful and wonderfully fragrant ‘Monsieur Jules Elie.’ Last fall, I planted ‘Monsieur Jules Elie’ in my new flower bed along with divisions of two unidentified peonies from my mother’s garden.

Unidentified deep pink peony (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) Unidentified white peony (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)

I had read that peonies often took a few years to get established and that I shouldn’t expect blooms in the first year. So I was more than satisfied when spring came and all three plants put up healthy new growth. I was thrilled when I realized that all three plants also had flower buds on them. A little over a week ago, the first peony – a deep pink, almost scarlet, flower from my mother’s garden – opened three blooms. This was followed within a day or two by two flowers on a white peony from my mother’s garden. Finally, a few days ago, M. Jules Elie opened his one gorgeous bloom.

Lone peony bloom as focal point (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) Today, all three peonies are blooming simultaneously in my garden (although the deep pink blossoms are well past their prime). In addition, a vase with two peony flowers holds pride of place in my living room, providing pleasures of both sight and scent. Although the peony plants are not yet large enough to be a major presence in the garden, that solitary bloom of ‘Monsieur Jules Elie’ provides a beautiful focal point in my view of the fence border from my favorite perch on the deck. Imagine what this view will be like in a couple of years when M. Elie is better established and full of flowers!

22 Comments leave one →
  1. June 12, 2010 4:52 pm

    Happy to read the good news that peonies are blooming in your garden. I have experienced that, sometimes, peonies grown from a healthy-sized division will bloom a year earlier than those from a seedling plant that one gets from a nursery or mail order.

  2. June 12, 2010 4:59 pm

    Wonderful news~They are the best ever plants, reliable and beautiful! gail

  3. gardeningasylum permalink
    June 12, 2010 6:37 pm

    Oh your peonies are really beautiful and I do like the thoughtful siting – the fence is a perfect backdrop…

  4. June 12, 2010 8:18 pm

    That is very rewarding and I am so happy for you! I think that I may have planted my peonies too deep. I may have to lift them in the fall and try to plant more shallowly.
    I bet next year your blooms will be EVEN more beautiful. WAY To grow!

  5. June 12, 2010 8:57 pm

    Wonderful blooms Jean, I’m so happy for you! Monsieur Jules Elie is very special and lovely, not dissimilar to the Bowl of Beauty I just planted. As you well know, peony planting causes me quite a bit of stress too, but I also went for it last year. I have buds forming, we’ll see if there are blooms though. Peonies in the house are always a delight! 🙂

  6. June 12, 2010 9:00 pm

    Yeah! You must have planted them with such enthusiasm and care that they decided not to wait a year or two to bloom. Beautiful blooms Jean!

  7. June 12, 2010 11:16 pm

    Peonies had always made me nervous too. I planted my first one years ago and now it’s finally gotten past the point where I can count the number of blooms. My newest had just one flower, but they sure are worth waiting for. Your three all are so pretty and really compliment each other so well.

  8. June 13, 2010 9:19 am

    Peonies – one of life’s joys. Glad you have just early success with yours.

  9. June 13, 2010 2:53 pm

    The peonies are beautiful. I wish I had room for more.


  10. June 13, 2010 4:25 pm

    yea!! congratulations on your beautiful blooms. mine just bloomed this weekend too. the scent is heaven.

  11. June 13, 2010 7:05 pm

    Peonies are a garden blessing.

    And a peony bouquet? THE BEST.

    All petalled joys to you,

    Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

  12. June 13, 2010 11:18 pm

    Congratulations on growing such lovely blooms in the first year! I’m so glad you conquered your fear of growing these beauties.

  13. June 14, 2010 7:25 am

    Your peonies are gorgeous, Jean. I don’t think I will ever tire of having vases full of lilacs and peonies… two spring favorites. A gardening friend of mine gave me the name of a mail-order peony farm, and thought I would share it with you… visit for an incredible selection. And be prepared to drool. 🙂

  14. June 14, 2010 9:21 am

    I love peonies eventhough I have never seen real ones. Yours are gorgeous.

  15. June 14, 2010 6:54 pm

    It seems you needn’t have worried Jean, your peonies look very happy! My mother grew peonies in England, and I’ve always assumed they wouldn’t do well here in this climate. A neighbor though has proven me wrong! Perhaps I should try one…if I can find a suitable deer-free location for it. They really do have the most perfect flowers.

  16. June 14, 2010 9:51 pm

    Ah, M. Jules seems to have settled in and made himself a happy home. 🙂 Peonies always give me a thrill of the exotic — which I can’t quite understand as they are grown here in the Southeast. It must be the influence of all those Japanese paintings.

    Congratulations on your success with these beauties, Jean!

  17. June 14, 2010 11:08 pm

    I had the same reaction with my first peony blooms. I have just two, but plan to add more to my collection. Congratulations for overcoming your peony hesitation.

  18. June 15, 2010 9:22 am

    Jean, you lucky girl! I love peonies! Yours are definitely beautiful!

  19. June 15, 2010 8:45 pm

    I’m not sure how I missed this post before.

    Peonies are one of my very favourites! I will post some of mine in a few days (I’m just waiting for one more to open.)

    Yours are just beautiful, Jean. I have always had at least a couple. And I’ve planted them too deeply and had to dig them up and replant the following year. But I’ve never had any problems with pests or disease at all!

    I think you are doing great with these.

  20. August 26, 2010 11:23 am

    You have some beautiful peonies. I love peonies too and I know you will thoroughly enjoy the bountiful plant Mons Jules Elie is going to be! It gets big and tall and full. I had my husband take a picture of me in front of it and sent it to my mother who is in the Philippines. They loved it .

  21. May 7, 2011 11:31 pm

    Glad to hear the peonies are blooming well for you. Your garden looks lovely.

  22. July 28, 2015 12:53 am

    I wish I could grow peonies on our backyard as well. I’m in a tropical country, Philippines. It’s my dream to plant one.

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