The Last Peony

Today my garden is left with one last peony: a secondary bloom on ‘Sarah Bernhardt.’ All the rest have run their course.

Sarah Bernhardt

‘Sarah Bernhardt’ is usually the last peony in my garden to start blooming, so it is not unexpected for it also to be the last one open at the end of peony season. For years it has been the only one on which secondary blooms open.

This has been an extraordinary year for peonies. As I have mentioned in earlier posts, it may have been the unusually cold winter for this part of North Carolina that has made the difference. I did not do anything out of the ordinary last fall or over the winter. In fact, I did nothing for the peonies but cut them down to the ground. Whatever the reason, this has been the first year in two North Carolina gardens that secondary buds on most peonies made it to bloom. Consequently, peony season lasted much longer this year. More blossoms over an extended period: that is what makes a great peony season.

It is also the first time a substantial number of blooming stems stayed aloft after drenching rains. Some, of course, were driven over, but to have any of their stems strong enough to stand erect was a first. Most of my herbaceous peonies are unidentified; they are heirlooms that have been passed down in my family from my grandmother’s garden. Here is a brief look at some of them:

DSCN1487  DSCN1478

DSCN1495  DSCN1499

DSCN1482  DSCN1488

This was the first year to see Itoh peonies bloom in my garden, and they were hands down the crowd pleasers. The pink flowers on ‘Keiko’ were magnificent, but the winner was the striking yellow ‘Bartzella.’

DSCN1366  DSCN1486

‘Bartzella’ was such a favorite of our visitors (and mine) that several of them are already using a picture of my ‘Bartzella’ as the cover “wall paper” on their iPads and smart phones. Both of these new Intersectional peonies remained perfectly erect in a driving rainstorm.


Pardon the pole in the picture of ‘Bartzella;’ I didn’t even notice it I was so captivated by the blooms.

I have tried to plan my garden to achieve a succession of bloom. As I say farewell to the last peony in 2014, what should catch my eye but the first blooms on a ‘Frances Williams’ hosta and an oak leaf hydrangea:

Frances Williams hosta 1  DSCN1570

These should keep things going until the daylilies start…and the phlox…and the ‘Endless Summer’ hydrangeas…and the vitex…and….



About johnvic8

John Viccellio retired after 24 years in the U. S. Navy and began to dig into gardening when he could finally land in one place. He completed the Master Gardener course in 1992 and has since designed and constructed two of his own gardens. He wrote a monthly garden column for ten years and was a regular contributor to Carolina Gardener magazine. John published his first book, Guess What's in My Garden!, in 2014. He lives in Stallings, NC with his wife, in close proximity to six of his eight grandchildren.
This entry was posted in Gardening and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The Last Peony

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Peonies are some of my favorites! Garden looks great Dad…love you!


  2. Katherine says:

    Love love all the colors Dad!!


  3. Chloris says:

    Gorgeous peonies, particularly Bartzella, an unusual colour for a peony.


Replies welcome...really!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.