We are having friends over for dinner tonight. Good friends. Lovely friends. They are neighbors of ours, and live just down on the lake. They are the kind of friends that know we are straight out with all the hustle and bustle of the nursery and growing plants. They are the kind of friends that show up here after closing with homemade John’s ice cream and a few beers. I think sometimes they save us from ourselves, we would keep working on through the evening even if it means wearing a headlamp. Don’t laugh, we do this! They come and make us stop, and we love them for this. So, in honor of summer ( and food) and these very good friends, dinner plans have been made. Our first thought was to actually leave the farm to enjoy dinner over at their place on the lake. Swell idea, really. But then we got to thinking……so many plants are in bloom. So many amazing spring woodlanders that Kari will want to see. So, dinner here at Fernwood, along with a guided tour around the gardens. We promise not to do any weeding as we walk around!
Phlox stolonifera ‘Home Fires’ along with Double trillium
Two different species peonies have recently opened in the garden. On the many occasions we stopped to admire their blooms, we were fascinated by the number of pollinators who were also making their visit. Several types of bees were present, along with many other significant pollinators…insects and beetles, all focused on their work. Soon, we will devote a more in depth post on the importance of these various pollinators. It’s a topic we’re often thinking about. It was comforting to see all the activity on the peony blossoms yesterday, and we find ourselves just as enthralled with this ‘buzz’ of activity as we do with the flower itself. Reminding us that the flower exists for more than just its beauty, and that its design is part of an important cycle. As you enjoy the blooms of your own gardens, keep a look out for all these essential pollinators and be glad for the crucial role they play.
Peony obovata var. willmottiae
Also, we couldn’t help snapping a picture of the primulas and marsh marigolds continuing to do their thing. The bird bath is made by our good friend and neighbor, Mark Guido. Several examples of his wonderful stone work find a place in our gardens. More on him later, as well!
Species peony is a term used for those forms of peonies that are found in nature, the original representatives of their type, unaltered by human hybridization. There are at least 61 recognized wild species and subspecies. As interest and study continues, this number will surely change. Many (or most) of the wild species are endangered or threatened in their native range due to over collecting or habitat loss. It is important to buy only propagated plants, and since it takes about 4 -8 years to grow them to a saleable size, they can be pricey.
The species we choose to grow are those that are more shade tolerant. (P. japonica, P. obovata, P. veitchii , P. banatica) This fits in well with the overall focus of the nursery and makes them excellent companion plants with the other plants we grow. Right now they are well on their way to setting flower buds over very attractive foliage of coral, red, and deep green. Emerging very early with the spring ephemerals really adds a lot to the landscape, both in color and texture. We’ve never had a problem with them and late frosts. They seem to take them in stride.
They are relatively easy to grow. A woodland setting of well drained soil in light to dappled shade seems to work very well. Avoid wet areas. No staking is needed , as with the hybrids, and there are no significant pest problems. The foliage stays healthy looking all season. In September the seed pods open to a beautiful combination of blue-black seeds set in bright red pods. A real bonus for any garden. We do not provide any special protection for the winter months. If you grow the hybrid peonies and the tree peonies, the species peonies will extend the season for you. We really enjoy their color and form growing amongst the other woodland plants. Visitors to Fernwood can expect to see many of these ( and other) wonderful peonies growing in the display gardens. Come check them out!