Lonely Iris and Old Peonies

Last summer I divided my irises.  Actually, I didn’t even know I had  irises until I was weeding and I dug up some mysterious rhizomes.  So I did some research, and carefully replanted them for the next season.  After all my hard work I got one little bloom.  It was a beautiful purple, but poor little Iris was all alone.

If you would like to divide your irises, do it just after they’re done blooming.  Cut leaves back by one third, divide the rhizomes with your hands and make sure that each piece has leaves.  Plant them in well drained soil with at least 6 hours of sun.  Leave the roots just barely exposed.  Spread mulch over them to protect them from the winter but remove it in the spring.  My irises may not have bloomed because over crowding or because I added mulch.


I’m pretty fond of my peonies.  I’m haven’t been much of a gardener, but my peonies grow and produce bushels of lovely blooms no matter what I do.  (If you aren’t much of a gardener either, I highly recommend that you take close up pictures of your flowers.  They are so much more impressive when you can edit out the weeds and mess.)  I have two colors of peonies, one delicate pink (my colours are blush and bashful) and the other clean white with a tiny touch of fuchsia, maybe festiva maxima. peonies_triptic

This week I learned a lot about peonies from Lyndon Penner on CBC radio.  Listen to the six minute interview here.  He says that peonies thrive in Alberta, and have grown here for over 125 years.  They are really tough and don’t need much fussing. (My brother tries to kill his each year, but they just keep coming back.  He doesn’t like their floppy stems and cascades of petals.)  Peonies also live a long time, 80-125 years, unlike a typical perennial which lives 5-8 seasons.  To take care off your plant, deadhead old blooms and cut back in the fall after the first frost.  Water after periods of drought and never fertilize with manure.  They don’t need dividing, but if you do want to divide them or move them, wait until the first week of September when the weather is cooler but not yet frozen, and put them in a spot where they can get full sun.  So bro, I’ll see you on Labour Day with my shovel.

Peony - Festiva Maxima

Peony – Festiva Maxima



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