PEE-oh-knee or pee-OH-knee?
Both HowJsay.com and Merriam Webster advise that the correct pronunciation calls for accenting the first syllable.
However you choose to pronounce it, aren’t they the grandest, abundantly full, late-spring perennial?
You may know that I am not the gardener in the family. That’s the reason this post is one day late. In order to give my readers quality material, I ended up doing hours of research.
The herbaceous peony lifespan is amazing; well-cared for peony plants can live from fifty to over a hundred years. According to recent gardening advice from the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch, peony bushes don’t require extravagant care:
- They are sun-worshippers, tolerating just a little shade. That means you need to plant them where they’ll soak in lots of sun.
- The bushes are picky about sitting in waterlogged soil, so make sure you plant them in an area with adequate drainage.
- Peonies that fail to bloom likely had their tubers (roots) planted too deeply in the soil. Correct planting calls for the tubers to go in the ground first at a distance where the “eyes” (buds) end up less than one inch under the soil.
- Finally, provide them with some open space and good air circulation. Just like me, they don’t like to be crowded.
There are many varieties of peony plants, from those with a single layer of petals (quite fragile) to those with a double layer, and all the way up to the variety that has over a hundred petals. The more petals, the longer-living the cut peony; it may last in a bouquet up to ten days.
Claire Austin, the current chair of the Peony Society, gives this advice about actions to take regarding the ants that are attracted to the sweet tight buds: Do nothing. The ants simply feed on the sugary substance that the buds produce. Ants may even help the buds open.
There is just one downside to the peony. A healthy peony bush blooms abundantly, but there are too many flowers at one time. Then too quickly, they are gone. We have to wait another year to enjoy their stunning luscious blooms.
But I have good news to share! My daughter led me to a Martha Stewart video that features Kathleen Gagan, owner of Peony’s Envy. (Don’t blame me; that’s what her garden center is named.)
If you click on the link below, you’ll find a two-minute clip (from the six-minute mark to the eight-minute mark) that tells you how to cut peonies to preserve them for up to six months!
Please watch the video to receive the full instructions. But here are the Cliff-notes-type directions:
- Cut the flowers while they are in balls, still green but just a tiny bit open. (You can see her example in the video and she says, “You can cut them even when they’re tighter than this.”)
- Even up the tops of the flowers and cut off the very bottom stems evenly.
- Place in a cellophane wrap like the type a grocery store provides when you purchase cut flowers. But the bottom of the wrap needs to be OPEN so that the stems can stick out.
- Leave the top of the cellophane open for air. The wrap simply protects the flowers from frost.
- Place the flowers in a tall container with a little water. If needed at a later time, add a little tepid water.
- Move the container to the refrigerator
OR here’s a second method:
- Cut the flowers on a dry night when they have no dew or moisture on them. The flowers need to be dry.
- Wrap the flowers securely in newspaper, around and over the top and bottom (like a burrito).
- Secure with a semi-loose rubber band at the stem.
- Place in refrigerator.
Ms. Gagan swears both of these methods will preserve the flowers for six months in the refrigerator. Then, when you’re ready for a fresh bouquet, remove them from the fridge, place in a vase with tepid water, and they rehydrate.
I’m going to give this a try because who doesn’t want to prolong a beautiful life as long as possible.
Advice from Kathleen Gagan owner of Peony’s Envy on the Martha Stewart show Note: The two-minute clip on preserving peonies starts at about the six-minute mark and ends at eight minutes. But if you have the time, the whole video is interesting, even though Martha doesn’t appear to be paying 100% attention to what her guest says.