Spring is a speedy season in Minnesota, and none of the spring flowers are more fragile than my favorite: peonies.
A single 90-degree day or some wind and rain can shatter the blooms, and that’s it for the year. I’ve taken to cutting the flowers and bringing them inside to enjoy before they fade away.
But even when the flowers are gone, the bushes are an asset in the garden. With their bulk and glossy green leaves, they’re an ideal foundation plant. And they’re tough. Peony plants can live for a century, and one established they tolerate some neglect.
An extreme example is what happened at a neighbor’s home. Three or four very old peonies were moved to the south side of the house in July, at the very hottest part of summer. They survived and even thrived with little care.
Then the house was sold. The new owners weren’t gardeners. Rather than weed, the man of the house simply ran over the shrubs with the lawn mower. The plants were so tough that it took three or four mowings to permanently eliminate those poor bushes.
Ever since, I have regretted not running over with a shovel to rescue them.
I have white, pink and red peonies. My favorites are the single flowers, which seem to last longer than the “bomb” types. Some are even fragrant.
Here’s some pictures to remember this year’s blooms, even as we fast approach summer.