tree peony season 2007

Jim McKenney
Thu, 17 May 2007 15:22:10 PDT
When the tree peony season began this year, I decided to save flowers in the
refrigerator in order to get a good group picture of the early suffruticosa
sorts with the later yellow-flowered hybrids. In our climate, there can be a
two week gap between the first of the suffruticosa types and the first of
the yellow-flowered hybrids. The idea was to store the suffruticosa sorts in
the refrigerator until the yellow-flowered hybrids began to bloom.

Because Mother's Day came within this period, I also hit on the idea of
setting up a grand table display for the Mother's Day brunch. Although most
family members had seen one or two tree peony flowers now and then over the
years, no one had any sense of the variety and numbers. So each morning I
would go out into the garden and pick whichever ones were in bloom. Soon I
had about sixty flowers in the refrigerator. 

On Mother's Day the first of the yellow-flowered sorts had only just begun
to open. And I was very busy that morning in preparing the brunch. I decided
to use only  about half of the refrigerated blossoms for table decoration -
as it turned out, that was plenty. This made a big impact on family members.
The flowers were set out at about 9 A.M.; the day was warm, and by noon the
flowers were showing signs of duress - a few fell apart. And on top of that,
I discovered that the battery in my camera was dead: how did that happen? So
I had to charge the battery, and by the time the battery was charged up,
more of the flowers had run down. I did not get any good images of this

Yesterday, several of the flowers of grand old 'Souvenir de Maxime Cornu'
were fully developed, and I cut those. Today I removed the remaining two
dozen or so flowers from the refrigerator and grouped them outside with the
more recently cut blooms of Souvenir for another group photograph. This time
the blooms were overall in much better condition, although again a few fell
apart as soon as I removed their stays (I had wrapped each refrigerated
blossom in a wide band of paper to keep the flower tightly closed in the
refrigerator. Some of the blossoms expanded greatly in the refrigerator). 

Here's a link where you can view for yourself:

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where Dichelostemma
multiflorum is putting on a good display.
My Virtual Maryland Garden
Webmaster Potomac Valley Chapter, NARGS 
Editor PVC Bulletin 
Webmaster Potomac Lily Society

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