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garden peony
Shiny leaves, buds a-bursting - a marvel of the mid-spring garden

Common name garden peony
Family paeoniaceae
Life cycle perennial
Flowers various colors (spring)
Size 3-4'
Light sun

Long-lived perennial - no garden is complete without one. We, in fact, started our garden with two, planted our side garden when it was first constructed. One is a plain pink, the other deep magenta, and both suffer from peony flop syndrome: without fail, within a day or so after the huge flowers open, a thunderstorm sweeps through, weighs the blooms down so they kiss the soil around them, and creates a generally disheveled look. A few weeks later, the task of retrieving the slimy decomposing flowers isn't among my favorite gardening chores. But it's all worth it, for the flowers that do survive, for the buds that are so full of promise already weeks before they open, and even for the wonderful new growth in early spring, truly a harbinger of the gardening season that's about to burst into full action.
Of course, if I weren't so adverse to staking and supporting plants, a lot of those negatives could be dealt with nicely. As is, I usually remember to tie the entire plant to a metal fencepost to try to keep most stems upright - but a better strategy is required to counteract the flop syndrome fully effectively...
Since our side garden has undergone a slow transition from sunny to shady in the past twelve years, both of the peonies have been transplanted to places where they get more sunshine – the darker one to the curve garden, the lighter one in pieces to the driveway bed and the front perennial border. Transplanting a peony is sort of heartbreaking: I've not managed to do it without massive carnage to its fleshy root system. According to some information sources, they take a few years to come back into bloom after being thus disturbed, but I lucked out, and never went without flowers.

We left this plant behind in our Pennsylvania garden (and wish it well); we don't grow it in Houston.

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