The downside of going away in May and June is not being at home. As much as I loved touring some amazing gardens in England and seeing some inspiring outdoor art, I missed being at Glen Villa, my garden in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, during the peak time for planting and transplanting.
Not to worry, though, I’ve made up for it — my arms, legs, back and shoulders will attest to that. For the last week or more, I’ve been practically living outdoors, cleaning up, pruning, planting and transplanting, dividing and moving plants from one spot to another. It’s late in the season to be doing this but luckily the weather has cooperated. Although some days have been unseasonably hot, we’ve also had several cool mornings. And thankfully, everything we divided and moved has survived without wilting or being set back.
The reward for these hours of work is a sense of satisfaction. The job is far from finished — it never is — but today I’m ready to exchange the trowel for the computer. There’s nothing deep or thoughtful about this week’s blog post — which is almost five days later than usual, due to the back-breaking activity mentioned above — simply some photos of beautiful flowers and some vignettes in the Lower Garden that I find appealing.
When I first began work on the garden, about 15 years ago, the slope consisted mainly of a perennial geranium, several clumps of bearded iris and some tired evergreen shrubs. I removed most of the plants, refreshed the soil and began again.
It’s no surprise that the geranium survived. It continues to spread, adding a flash of colour that brings its surroundings to life.
In those fifteen years I’ve added plants, of course — like these Siberian iris ‘Tycoon’ that are blooming so beautifully now beside the old poplar tree.
I added lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis) for its citrus froth, and as much as I love it, annually I pull out huge bunches — which seems not to bother the plant at all.
I added allium, now past their peak.
I added Astilbe ‘Fanal’, not yet in bloom, next to a teenaged Aralia ‘Sun King.
I added a lovely single white peony with a frilly skirt …
and a cherry peony that is not yet in full bloom.
But the best plants in the Lower Garden are the peonies I inherited. Right now, they are the stars of the show.
These old favourites are stunning from a distance and even more stunning when viewed up close.
Peonies take a few years to establish themselves but they live almost forever. And thank goodness for that.
Do you grow peonies in your garden? Do you have favourites to recommend?
It is looking like you are having a great peony season; as the rest appears full and lush!
It has been a very good year for peonies, and for lots of other plants, too. Good rainfall at the right time, and not too much heat too early.
The geranium might be Geranium sanguineum. As for peonies, I love Bev, Rozella, and Bartzella. All three have sturdy, upright stems and don’t need staking. However, I did not move Rozella from the old house because it had a severe case of botrytis that seemed to go all the way into the roots. I don’t know if Rozella is genetically predisposed to be afflicted or if it was just my particular plant, but I hesitate to recommend it wholeheartedly because of that. But I do recommend shopping around and looking for “sturdy stems” or “does not need staking” in the description of the cultivar, if you are planning to buy more. The older varieties are more readily available but many of them are floppers. For a plant that’s going to last so long, why invest in a variety that will need extra care to look its best? (Passalong peonies from a friend or relative are a different story.) Myself, I hope to one day acquire ‘Cora Louise’ and perhaps ‘Raggedy Ann’-both are intersectional peonies, as is Bartzella. Peonies are a real favorite with me, too–can you tell?
Thanks for the Geranium id, even if tentative. I may be adding more peonies soon so will check into the ones you name. And yes, I can believe peonies are one of your favourites… who wouldn’t love them? I know I do.
I concur that the geranium is most likely G. sanguineum; both the color of the flower and the shape of the leaves are right for that species. I have been adding some peonies to my garden, but they don’t love my conditions here. I have both M. Jules Elie and Sarah Bernhardt, but I’m not sure which one is in your photo (M. Jules didn’t bloom this year in my garden.
If I find more G. sanguineum for sale, I will add more. It has such a fabulous colour and adds real punch. Too bad about the peonies.
Re: the pink peony — ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ is quite late in the peony season, where ‘Mons. Jules Elie’ is in the early to midseason for the lactiflora types. SB is also significantly taller. The photo doesn’t look quite like either one to me, though the red markings in the pink are typical of SB.
Nell, thanks for the clarifications. Generally our peonies bloom more or less at the same time but I will look more carefully next year to see if one is earlier than another. I think the final image is neither SB or JE but some other variety.