Tree Peonies

As any gardener knows, occasionally, there is a day in the garden – and just one day – when everything looks really good. These are few and far between, and it takes real discipline to see the beauty and not the weeds.

April has been fierce. Biblical rains for days. Then, four days of scorching, weird, awful heat (without the benefit of any true leaf cover.) Tulips wilted at the thought of the day to come. New peony shoots curled leaves to the ground as if wanting to go back. Then, 30 degree temperature drops and rain rain rain. Today, cool, breezy, scattered showers – perfect to walk the gardens and plan the next work day.

I walked to the western garden and stopped, stared, and fell in love with the tree peonies.

The six pictured here are the oldest plants in the garden and this is by far the best bud production. Aren’t they glamorous, blowsy things? Last year, I splurged and added a dozen more – received as bareroot plants. There are only a couple of buds on the new additions, so they may want a settling in year.

The western garden has been under development for the ten years I’ve been figuring out the gardens here. It is the most browsed by deer. It is the least watered (no proximate faucet). It’s shaded by a large beech tree, so mostly dry shade. Some areas of blazing afternoon sun.

Three years ago, a stand of old, large skip laurels died – termites! So there was a big blank area – the garden viewed from the guest room. I let it lie fallow for a year, then planted it as a field of tree peonies. I’ve tested nearly every perennial for the combo of shade and late afternoon sun and learned which were deer tolerant and which, sadly, were not.

Here are some plants that have proven to be the most reliably deer resistant:
Tree & Herbaceous Peony
Iris
Lily of the valley
Virginia bluebells
Boxwood
Tansy
Caryopteris (Bluebeard)
Bronze Fennel
Alium
Narcissus
Chinodoxa
Clematis montana
Dicentra
Coreopsis (native)
Chamacyparis
Magnolia stellata
Papaver (all)
Larkspur
Muscari
Asclepias
Clematis jackmanii
Clethra
Baptisia

Here are a few plants that occasionally spark some deer’s interest, but generally do alright.
Achellia mollis
Helenium
Solidago
Acanthus
Penstemon
Violas

Finally, if someone can tell me what animal is un-potting my new teeny rosemary plant every night, and how to stop them, I would be very grateful.

I don’t think it’s this fellow, who has taken up residence next to the front door.

One thought on “Tree Peonies”

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