A Half-Hearted Dabbler In Peonies
There are many people who love peonies, and I respect their point of view. I am not one of them, however. Judy is, though, and that’s why we have peonies in the garden.
As it is, we have four, all from Klehm’s Song Sparrow Farm in Illinois. There are three hybrids: ‘America’, ‘Abalone Pearl’, and a third whose name I can’t remember. There is also the species Paeonia anomala.
I don’t dislike peonies. I’m just not, well, all that impressed. Sure they can be beautiful for a brief period. But what about the other 51 weeks of the year?
And don’t tell me that I can combine peonies that bloom at different times to have several weeks of color. My point is, each individual plant is earning its keep for just a few days a year, maybe less if there’s a badly timed rainstorm. Otherwise they’re lying on the couch, playing video games, and eating potato chips.
Peonies with single blooms are what I like best, and all of the ones I planted are singles. The doubles do not appeal to me. Too fussy.
And peony foliage can be nice for a while, sure. P. anomala in particular has interesting ferny foliage. However, for me the foliage gets a bad case of downy mildew by the middle of the summer.
Also, these plants offer very little of value to birds, butterflies, or other critters.
I will say that I am surprised my peonies are doing as well as they are. The spot I put them in gets only part sun. And the mildew they had last season was so bad I wondered how strong they would be this spring. Despite this, they came back this year clean and green, with more stalks and flower buds. Despite appearances, they are tough plants.
So am I crazy? Or are there other people out there who don’t swoon over peonies?