WOW what an early evening in the peony fields! Weeding crew is doing their weekly maintenance program. Hybridizing in full gear. Don’t you just love micro-climates? With the variety of soils, sun and yes afternoon shade, not only was Going Bananas going bananas, but trying to keep up with the variety of blooms popping is making me go bananas. I’d just get through walking the rows, (without TIger by the way as he’s smarter than me when it comes to 80 degree temps) and look back to see more blooms popping. Oh yes and its windy outside. Rather a weird sight in the field with some guy holding a white diffuser in awkward positions with a camera in hand. Not that the neighbors around here think we’re weird anyways for growing flowers in an agriculture zone.:) We have a surprise coming for all our online gardeners who could not make it to Peony Field Days. More info coming when its literally ready to launch. Pink Hawaiian Coral just started to pop in one of our fields. Very good stem strength, wonderful cut flower and nice foliage makes this an excellent choice for gardeners. Overall field color is now in the 60 to 70% range so the upcoming Peony Field Days should be spectacular!
Growing Peonies that don't flop
Thank you for coming out on June 5th and 6th for the first part of Peony Field Days! With almost 800 gardeners in attendance over the two days, the peonies presented an awesome display of colors. Of course on Sunday, Bartzella showed so out come the cameras. Bart is still my favorite yellow intersectional hybrid peony and might I add, Becky’s too! No storms here over the weekend so blooms are holding great. I will post on Thursday the varieties in bloom for the final Peony Field Days on Friday, June 12th and Saturday, June 13th. My guess is peak bloom later this week and praying that the forecast changes due to the high temps and thunderstorms mid week. Happy peony bloom here!
Thank you to all who attended our Peony Field Days today! We certainly appreciated the chance to talk with you about our favorite perennial and hopefully yours -the peony! For those of you planning your trip out here on Saturday, June 6th, the fields are drying up nicely and blooms for early, early to mid and mid are looking great! Some of the corals are starting to open and intersectional hybrids are filling out nicely. Bartzella, our favorite yellow, has not shown yet but others are in their prime. If you do want to walk through our other field, you will need waterproof boots to get to it but once in the field, it has also dried up nicely. Looking at the most recent forecast, appears the rain has a 70% chance after 4 PM. The hours for tomorrow are 9 am to 5 PM and friendly reminder that we are not open on Sunday, June 7th. Have a safe trip and look forward to seeing you at our Peony Field Days!
I don’t know if ‘tiger’ the cat or myself is worn out from taking 500+ peony photos this evening! He followed me up and down the rows but finally gave out towards the end. So if each row is 500′ long and there are 12 rows in this field, maybe that’s why I’m tired too!
In this side of field, not as many blooms showing but overall I’d say we’re in the 30 to 35% color showing range. With early, early to mid and mids really popping, the color variations are spectacular. One of my favorite blooms times as the ‘hot’, unique and eye catching colors are blooming in other parts of our fields.
One of our most popular dark red peonies called ‘Chocolate Soldier’ appeared in bloom this evening. You may want to order this one early as he usually sells out at Peony Field Days. I just had to post these even though I said earlier that bloom updates were done but after an amazing evening in the fields with color, some of these varieties will not be around on the 12th and 13th. Fields were actually getting better this evening BUT you know who is flying around. YES I would apply mosquito repellant at your vehicles before entering the fields and make sure to wear waterproof boots in the fields. See you at Peony Field Days!
Oh what a day makes in the peony fields! We jumped from about 10% color yesterday to now 20% moments ago. Hooray for color! Here is the list of varieties in bloom for the start of Peony Field Days on 6/5 and 6/6: America, Anderson’s Kaleidoscope, Archangel, Bess Bockstoce, Buckeye Belle, Burma Midnight, Carnation Bouquet, Cheese Country, Cherry Charm, Chocolate Soldier, Coral Sunset, Court Jester, Eliza Lundy, Erma, Frist Arrival, Garden Treasure, Going Bananas, Goldilocks, Joker, Julia Rose, Laura Magnuson, Lotus Bloom, Louis Van Houtte, Lovebirds, May Lilac, Morning Lilac, Old Rose Dandy, Pastel Splendor, Postillion, Prairie Charm, Raspberry Charm, Red Charm, Red Grace, Rivida, Rose Diamond, Rosedale, Salmon Beauty, Scarlet O’Hara, Sequestured Sunshine, Serenade, Solot Flight and Unique. Who knows what will show up later on today so for now this will be the last variety blooming post for June 5th and 6th. Next week I’ll update what is in bloom for the Peony Field Days on June 12th and 13th. Please note we are not open on Sunday June 7th or Sunday June 14th. The time is 9 am to 5 PM for Peony Field Days and address is 10958 70th St SW, Howard Lake, MN. Now a few items I need to discuss on visiting our farm: 70th St SW in front of our driveway is a mess from frost heaves and rain. Once you turn on to our driveway head north to our information tent for parking instructions. Do not park anywhere on our driveway south of the information tent. Our driveway is very steep on both sides before you get to the information tent. Please be careful if you meet a car on our driveway or better yet, wait till any car has entered or exited the driveway before proceeding. If you are on 70th St SW and you see a car coming south on our driveway, please wait until they have left the driveway before proceeding north to the information tent. Again we are dog friendly as long as they keep their owner on a leash and the owner cleans up all doggy compost and brings home with them. Restrooms? Yes we have a portable onsite. WATERPROOF BOOTS A MUST FOR JUNE 5th and JUNE 6th! Yes it is muddy in the fields but should dry out today and tomorrow. The other Minnesota State bird…unfortunately yes! Not too bad yet, but with the warmer weather and lots of rain, might be their time to show up. Please do not apply mosquito repellant near the peonies! I would suggest applying by your vehicles. The field where the information tent is located is wheel chair accessible in some viewing areas. Please be patient when those gardeners are being dropped off at the information tent. Also for those of you who want to enjoy the peony view from your vehicles, there is a turn around past our home on top of the hill so you can view from both sides of your vehicle. Motorcycle parking is available in back of our home on a cement pad by the attached garage. However, getting here on 70th St SW may be a nightmare with all the mud and recently applied soft gravel. Photography tours? I’ll be watching for shutterbugs and if you see a group of people with cameras, please join us. IF inclement weather happens to show up at the last minute, will post any cancellations on Facebook, Blog and 763.350.2051. Make sure to stop in and visit Cattail Corner on the east side of Howard Lake and view their annual plantings in front of our home. They have some unique stuff for all gardeners and pet owners. If your plans are to have lunch or dinner out this way, might I suggest the following in Howard Lake; Sunrise Cafe (the old Sunnis Grill but only open until 2 PM) and Troubles (wonderful barbeque!) or Waverly Cafe (home cooking at its best) or Peppermint Twist in Delano. Have a safe trip and enjoy your time at Swenson Gardens Peony Field Days!
The intersectional hybrid peonies are starting to show! This is my most anticipated time of the bloom season as i ‘love’ these plants! For those of you planning on coming out on June 5th or 6th, tomorrow evening will post a list of plants in bloom. With all our micro-climates and soil types in our fields, blooms are different in the two fields that will be open to the public. My guess for overall color is about 7 to 10% and we are now starting to see some early to mids and mids just starting. Julia Rose started yesterday as well. As I mentioned in a previous post on our old blog, for those of you who have attended in the past, that field has about 50% less peonies then last year. We are transitioning out of that field and yes we sold a bunch last year. For first timers coming out, you will be walking through our production fields. No greenhouse or cement walkways and in fact for the 5th and 6th, wear waterproof boots! With the rain and our new growing techniques without cover crops, it is bare dirt between the rows. Looks like things may dry up before Friday and Saturday after we get through some more rain overnight. With two days of continuous wind out of the south, we did loose some stems on the ‘floppers’. Other news of note is that we closed out our original production field in Delano. We kept that going to fill our cut flower orders but our focus is now bare-root and hybridizing so we are no longer selling cut flowers. Speaking of hybridizing, you will probably see Danny in the fields during Peony Field Days so feel free to ask him any questions as it is prime season for him now. Happy gardening and see you soon in our peony fields!
Winterthur, a Saunder’s massive early peony, is just finishing up in one of our garden beds. With over an inch of new rainfall today, his blooms are still holding strong. All fieldwork was called off today due to the rain and thunderstorms. The weed crew finished up yesterday for their weekly adventure, without mosquitoes until about 8 PM last night. I don’t want to talk about mosquitoes too much as that was our first sightings of the season.
May Lilac is also finishing up her blooms with great color (and effects of the rain) still showing. Taking shots after a rain can be breathtaking in the right light conditions of which I had moments ago. Enjoy!
Here is the Bess Bockstoce peony in the starting bloom phase. For an early ‘pink’ she cannot be surpassed with an extended bloom time on the plant and in a vase. My second favorite pink is The Fawn. He or she will not be present for a couple of weeks. I know I mentioned Bess on previous post and you can view online, but I’m trying to update photos for next years website so you can see her now. If you love the color pink, Bess Bockstoce is your peony!
The ‘green’ peony color…of the foliage…continues today. A few smatterings of whites, corals, reds and pinks starting to show. Lots of work going on as we prepare for Peony Field Days before the rain begins on Tuesday night. Looks like later in the week the nice weather returns. Very deceiving when you look at the depth of field on this picture taken with a 300mm lens. In reality, these rows are 600 to 700 feet long. Each row contains 200 to 250 peonies.
On the other side of our driveway its rather tough to see too much color here as well. Bess Bockstoce, which is my favorite ‘pink’ double peony either in the garden or in a vase, started to show yesterday. When she is in bloom, what a show stopper! If you hover over the pic and click to enlarge, she is in upper left hand corner. The first Red Charm blooms are just starting to show as well in the lower center rows. In other areas of the fields, May Lilac, Athena, Lovebirds, some new early surprises for next year and Archangel are almost in full bloom. This now moves up field color to about 5%. Long ways to go before Friday’s Peony Field Days. With 80 degrees forecast for tomorrow, my guess is some of the corals will start to pop. Rose Nobel, Seraphim, Nova, sub ‘huthii’, Reward and Lil’ Sweetie are done. No intersectional hybrid peonies showing yet.
Our first Red Charm peony started to bloom yesterday in one of our ‘micro-climate’ sites. In a future post, I will talk more about this phenomenon as it pertains to gardening with peonies at our homes. I have a series of shots to follow that were shot with different aperture settings. Lets call this peony shot number 1.
Peony shot number 4. On a calm day, I like to adjust aperture versus shutter speeds in order get the color spot on. So which one is your favorite? As I mentioned in previous post, red is one of the toughest colors to shoot. It can go blue, brown or pink. During sunny days it can saturate and flare unless your using a diffuser. Yesterday I had a huge diffuser in the sky before the rains started. In these photos the ‘red’ is true to color on the Red Charm peony. Have fun with your aperture settings while shooting peonies in manual mode.