Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Experimentation

"Hey, Mom!  Can we grow peonies in Texas?"

"Well...."

My family has learned.  Anytime I start a sentence with a drawn-out "Well...", well, they know it's going to be a long explanation before (if ever) the question gets answered.

So, basically, the answer to the question was:

"I don't know."

The explanation I gave before the answer of "I don't know" was this:

I've never seen peonies in Texas, so that's not a good sign.  However, I've heard that peonies can be grown in Texas - with a few provisions.  I was told that if the peony didn't go dormant, you might have to pull the leaves off of it in the fall.  And, of course, it also depends where in Texas you want to grow peonies.  Northern Texans will probably be successful, south Texans may not.  Texas just don't get the chill hours that a lot of plants need.  Plus, there are some varieties that are supposedly more successful here than others.  They take several years to bloom.  So, if you want to grow them for their foliage only, you might not be as disappointed than if you expect a lot of blooms.

That's why my answer was "I don't know".

BUT -

I'm growing some in my garden right now, just to see.  And, so far, I didn't have to pull their leaves off!  That's a good sign.  They went dormant on their own.  And now, their beautiful red stems are reaching up, as if in a victory stance.


So, maybe!!!!

Shirley at Shirls Gardenwatch is hosting a Garden Blog Prequel, where she asks the question: How has your garden changed since you became a blogger?  And my answer would have to be: I'm experimenting more.

I see beautiful photos of so many plants in other blogger's gardens.  Some of these plants I never would have known about if I hadn't begun blogging.

I've ordered snowdrops, edgeworthia, cimicifuga (my first one died, so I'm trying again), witch hazel, hakone grass, mountain laurels, and Virginia bluebells to try out in my garden.  This is a list of plants I've ordered just this year!  That doesn't include all the other plants I'm already trying out in my garden.

I would have never added any of these plants to my garden if I had not started blogging.  My garden would have been full of plants that were easy - roses, boxwoods, and crape myrtles.  It would have been pretty, but not as much fun.

"I don't know."

Those words may scare off some gardeners.  But I love those I-don't-know type of plants.  They may not always be successful (like the lilacs I tried), but then again, they just might!

And some day I just may have peony blooms to show off because of it!

53 comments:

  1. It's perfectly all right to 'not know', that's what makes gardening so exciting at times! I apply the trial and error approach to most things in life, gardening included, and when it seems necessary, I ask questions. “There are no such thing as stupid questions, only stupid answers.” Not sure who said it first but I think it’s well said.

    I am cheering your paeony on, hope she will get lots of flowers, which colour is it? Does she have a name? Paeonies are definitely female in my garden, I have a huge pink lady paeony and she has just poked her red shoots above ground. Did you know they get older than us? Most of them can get become more than 100 years old. A grand old lady :-)

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    1. I will be amazed if this one has a long life - but you never know in the garden! I had actually forgotten it until I saw its red shoots coming up - and realized it was the peony making its appearance! I believe this is Sarah Bernhardt, which is a sweet pink. I agree that there are no stupid questions - in fact, I think it's best to ask rather than to sit silently, wondering.

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  2. Hi there! Your Peony looks really happy to me! I bet it's going to bloom for you! I've also found some really great plants from reading other blogs and I've got some really great ideas from looking at other gardens. I'm really enjoying the blogging world! P.S...it sounds like your child(ren) like gardening too and that's really great!!

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    1. There are tons of wonderful ideas out there - the blogging world is amazing inspiration! Blogging truly has made me a better gardener, as well as a more adventurous one.

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  3. Two falls ago, I divided and transplanted a peony. I hacked it a bit but it not only survived, it bloomed the following spring. Last summer, I had to transplant it again due to a property line correction. I wasn't sure it would make it because I had just transplanted it. But I went out today to take some measurements and there was my peony popping out of the ground. In my experience, it is a very resilient plant! You are right, you never know until you experiment!

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    1. Wow - I am quite impressed! Everything I read says peonies don't like to be transplanted! Yours must really love you! And your story gives me even more hope! :)

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  4. That peony looks surprisingly good and you are right that it's not a good idea in south Texas.

    My gardening has changed a lot since I started from scratch about the time I started the blog!

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    1. I think blogging just naturally changes our gardens - we look at it with different eyes.

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  5. Peonies need a certain amount of COLD weather in hours not days or weeks. But this winter has not been cold enough and there will be no flowers at my house. Even when there is enough cold the flowers do not have the fragrance that my Yankee mom's had.

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    1. Since I've only seen a real peony once in my life, I don't think I would be disappointed in its bloom - if it ever does. Good to know, though, that peonies don't need extended cold. Perhaps mine has a better chance than I realized! :)

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  6. Experimenting with plants that aren't necessarily hardy in one's climate is lots of fun! May your peony have many blooms for years to come!

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    1. I've experimented with tropicals - and have lost those in cold winters. So, now I'm experimenting with colder zoned plants. Not sure they will work, either, but it's always fun to try!

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  7. Looking good! I would do the same thing if there was any chance to grow Peonies. They're one of my favorites, and they grow quite well here in zone 5. I have three Peony plants, and wish I had more sun to grow more. You're taking chances with Peonies the way I want to take chances with Camellias. ;-) If you ever want seed heads from Cimicifuga, let me know and I can send them to you. I'm thinking about planting Edgeworthia, too--fascinating plant.

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    1. I hope you find a good cold variety camellia. Wouldn't that be fun if you could have camellias and I could have peonies? :) I do so hope that all the plants I've ordered works out - but I actually forgot and ordered two or three things for one spot, so I guess I was subconsciously counting on a few not working out! :O Thanks for the offer of seed heads from cimicifuga. I have never seen these around here, either, but love the pictures of them! It always makes me a little skeptical of their success if I've never seen a plant growing in this area.

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  8. I think the answer to some questions depends on who is asking. Like you, I am an enthusiast, but have found that some people are only vaguely interested or are being polite and "I don't know" or "maybe" is a good answer (especially if they are young!) But when you find the true aficionado, the lover of Lilacs and Forsythia, then the long technical answer will not only start an enjoyable conversation, but maybe even a long correspondance! .... btw, I like the long answer!

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    1. You are so right! "I don't know" to some means, move on. But to others, it means "tell me more - I want to see if I have a spot in my garden where I can give it a try'"! :)

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  9. I think you are off to a terrific start! I have a good feeling about your peonies so keep us posted! I think that part of the beauty of blogging like you said is that it pushes us to try new things and to take chances. I feel that my creativity has been turned up 100 notches! Have a lovely weekend friend!

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    1. I agree with you about creativity being turned up 100 notches by blogging. I am always finding new plants to try, or new projects to start (as if I didn't have enough already!). It has made my garden much better, although it has been a little more expensive, too, trying out all those plants that may or may not make it! :)

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  10. Your peonies look happy enough, so fingers crossed!

    As for the "I don't know", well... I'm all for it! As amateur gardeners we are allowed the luxury of trial-and-error, whereas a professional might have more than just a few bucks and some pride at stake. Some times it works, some time it doesn't, and for each time we learn a little more.

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    1. And it's the times that work that bring us such joy - it's definitely worth all that experimenting! And you're right about the learning. It has really made me a better gardener.

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  11. Glad to see it sprouting! Never say never! So many good things have come up by experimenting with plants in the garden, trying plants even if you have doubts they will do well. Sometimes they don't do well (it was worth the try) but when they do it's always a lovely bonus! :)

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    1. I think you are very experimental in your garden, too, so you know how fun it is when those bonuses work out! I now can't imagine gardening without trying a few things that I didn't know would work or not!

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  12. It's nice that you are able to grow them. It's one of the most beautiful blooms there is.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

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    1. Oh, I see photos of them and it just melts my heart! I do so hope mine bloom sometime in the future!

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  13. I admire your willingness to experiment! Last year, the ground never froze here and we were all worried that the peonies wouldnt bloom. Mine did bloom, but they were quite disappointing from what I am used to in other years. I wonder if there are some varieties that do better in Southern gardens - it would be worth looking into as they are incomparable, and if you want a peony, you WANT a peony!

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    1. I have a Sarah Bernhardt planted, and I think she is supposed to do fairly well in warmer climates. I really wouldn't know the difference between a disappointing bloom and a fabulous one - I think any bloom I get will be fabulous! :) They are such a voluptuous bloom - you're right, I don't think any flower could ever compare to the peony!

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  14. Go for it, even though peonies never seem to look as sensational in hotter climates as they do in the north. Did you pick one that is supposed to be good with minimal winter chill?

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    1. Yes, this one is supposed to be good for warmer weather areas - it's a Sarah Bernhardt. Such a pretty bloom. I hope she will like my garden well enough to bloom for me!

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  15. Peony flowers are gorgeous. The joke among northern gardeners is the day they bloom often coincides with a heavy rain event so you either cut the flowers and bring them in or admire them as a soggy mess on the ground (unless of course you are the type of gardener who stakes plants before they need it unlike moi). I'm thinking in Texas rain will not be a factor. Fingers crossed for you.

    Since I started blogging I find I am paying much more attention to what goes on in my garden and doing a better job of documenting bloom times and projects. Bloom Day is one of my favorite blog events.

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    1. Oh, my! When you were describing the rain ruining the peony blooms, I could see it! I know how discouraging that would be! I, too, find blogging a great way to document my garden. Something I never figured out how to do before.

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  16. Hello again – very sorry to take so long to get here. I’ll update my post with a link to this post in it now :-)

    Well, I couldn’t agree more on the experimenting since blogging – that really has been a fun part. Hehehe… as for the I don’t know – I’m with you on that too… in my case it’s more of ‘I did it my way’ regardless!

    Oh yes… the inspiration of growing new plants after seeing them chatted about in blogs definitely filters through to plant choices. I might not have added some left to my own devices! HAPPY BLOGGING to you:-D

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    1. I am amazed at all the plants I've never heard about that are so commonly grown, obviously, by other bloggers. I always wonder if it's my area, or just me! I love giving new plants a try - but zone 8 in Texas is very different than zone 8 elsewhere! We may get the same amount of winter cold, but our heat is usually much higher, it seems!

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  17. I think those words "I don't know" maybe the start of all gardening wisdom, or at least, if followed by "but it would be fun to try". Like you I have learnt about so many new plants by blogging and have been spurred on to experiment more by the stories of other bloggers' adventures. Look forward to seeing what happens to your Texan peonies!

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    1. "But it would be fun to try" - my motto! :)

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  18. I love Peonies. My mother used to grow them.. So gorgeous. Hope yours do well.. I'll bet they do. Keep us posted.

    Hugs,
    Betsy

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    1. I hope they do, too, Betsy. I think they are universally loved. :)

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  19. My favourite blooms - my grandfather used to obsess over his paeonies and dahlias (I don't have an appetite for Dahlias though)
    I don't think it matters where in the world gardeners live - they always hanker after something(s) they can't or shouldn't be able to grow.
    I noticed you have said your paeony is Sarah Bernhardt - over here she can get very tall - you should think about putting support in now whilst it's manageable. Those grid support work well. Have them pushed right down and as she grows up through you can raise them up a bit as the plants get taller.
    I hope you don't mind me offering you another tip - whilst most of the time being planted too deeply is often the cause for non blooming, another is spring drought over here. The buds form and don't proceed much further that pea size due to lack of water as they are developing.
    Best of luck and I can't wait to see her!

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    1. Thanks so much for the tips! I am very bad about not supporting a plant until it's too late - and then, well, it's too late! I hope I didn't plant mine too deeply. I didn't know much about peonies, and have no idea now how deeply I planted her. I will try to remember, though, about the spring droughts. This is in an area where we water, so hopefully that won't be a problem.

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  20. Good luck with your peonies! My related question is can you grow peonies in part shade. Answer: kind of, but the mildew gets really bad.

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    1. Good to know - and I didn't know that! :)

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  21. I shan't bore you with the tale about my Peony that took over 10 years to flower...good job I'm a patient gardener. I always say...'give it a go' x

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    1. Oh, Jane! I hope mine doesn't do that! But what a fun surprise it must have been after 10 years!

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  22. A girl after my own heart. Those peonies look like they are there to stay.

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    1. I hope they do - and that they eventually decide to bloom, too! :)

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  23. I think the absolute best part of gardening is the I don't knows. It's the only way I learn anything. Pick it up and stick it in the ground, see what happens. I agree with you about blogging, it's definitely encouraged me to try things I wouldn't have thought about otherwise.

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    1. I think all my new purchases over the last year or so have been directly due to other bloggers. I just hope most of them like my garden!

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  24. I love that you are experimenting more...I am too except with the veg garden more....good luck with the peonies.

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    1. I need to experiment more with my vegetable garden. But, as much as I love to eat vegetable, I just can't say I've fallen in love with growing them. Too bad we don't eat flower blooms! Then I would have a good excuse to enlarge my flower gardens! :)

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  25. I do hope you're successful with your peony - at the moment, it looks quite happy! Peonies are popular garden plants here in Calgary - they're tough enough to withstand our cold climate. (My Mum keeps some in zone 2 in northern Alberta - they're amazing). Unfortunately, I don't have any room in my flowerbeds for them, or I would plant some in a heartbeat. We're always so worried about finding plants that can handle our extreme winters here, and I think a lot of us don't think about the fact that gardeners who have just the opposite problem - extreme heat - have restrictions on plant selections as well! Experimenting is truly the only way to find out for sure what works! :)

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    1. Zone 3 is tough, and zone 8 is not like zone 10, but there are still a lot of plants that we can't grow because they don't get the chill time they like. It's so interesting to me to see which plants absolutely must have that, and which ones will get by without it. I hope the peony is flexible!

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  26. Fingers crossed for you! I've read of people emptyping the icemaker on their plants to give them the needed chill hours. Will following along all the way to Memorial Day, hopeful.

    I haven't forgotten the scent of the big white ones with the red fleck in the center that my mother grew in a colder zone. It's little comfort to tick off the plants she grew in a container, living outside over the winter here like Shrimp Plant and Purple Heart.

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    1. It must be sad to not be able to grow the plants of your memories. That is one reason I love gardening so - the plants remind me of my grandmother's or great-grandmother's gardens. It would be a loss to not be able to grow those same plants.

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  27. I have been told that to help peonies bloom you can put a large container of ice on it for a week or so during the coldest part of winter. It might be worth a try. Cathy

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