Swenson Gardens

Growing Peonies that don't flop

update on swenson gardens final peonies shipment

The peonies are in the process of being dug this week. The digging crew should be done tomorrow or Thursday depending on the weather forecast. It rained this evening and forecast is for more showers overnight. Yes this makes for tough digging but it has to be done rain or shine. We will update our progress as the week progresses. If all goes well, all orders should be shipped out on Tuesday, October 11th. This is a sad but also happy time of year for the crew at Swenson Gardens as we see the last peonies being shipped out but the winter hibernation for our work crew is greatly appreciated!

Last chance to order swenson gardens peonies for 2016!

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As our 2016 season for ordering peonies winds down, we’d like to say thank you for a great year! This has been another challenging growing season with above normal rain fall, but thankfully we grow and nurture peonies! They are amazing plants! For you bloggers, our online ordering will be shut down on Sunday, September 25th so order before then or go to our ‘see how to order page’ and mail in your order on Saturday, September 24th. This will be your last chance to order Swenson Gardens peonies for shipping only in 2016!

swenson gardens peony workshops

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During our peony pick up days and peony barn sale we will be having peony workshops at 10 am, noon and 2 PM on Friday, September 16th and Saturday, September 17th. So what is our peony workshops? Of course you can go to our YouTube video on how to plant a peony, but what if you need more hands on experience moving and dividing your own peonies? Well you have found the experts during these times to help you learn how to do this in your garden. Since fall is the best time to move, divide and plant peonies, why not learn how to do it? We will show you how to divide a peony in the ground and out of the ground. Now for those of you who would like to bring your cherished peony to us, please wash all the dirt off of your root mass, cut off the stems and let it rest in the shade for a couple of hours. Once the roots have ‘leathered’ up, bring it along with you and we will show you how to divide it. Peony roots are very brittle when they first come out of the ground. By letting them rest in the shade after you washed them and cut off the stems, the roots become less brittle, pliable and leathered up. The address for our peony farm is 10958 70th st sw, Howard Lake, MN. We look forward to seeing you at Swenson Gardens Peony Workshops!

swenson gardens peony barn sale

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All the first dig peonies have been shipped out and pick up orders filled. Yes gardening friends our annual peony barn sale will be held Friday, September 16th and Saturday, September 17th from 9 am to 5 PM. Bring your family and friends to pick out some more peony roots! Roots are smaller than our retail roots but oh the reduced prices! Yes friends even some varieties are available that were not listed on our website. Sorry but we can’t hold any roots as it is first come first served. Make it a day trip to Swenson Gardens and enjoy some sale priced peonies as well as local apple orchards. Event is held rain or shine in one of our barns. Did I mention yet that Swenson Gardens peony starter fertilizer will be available at $3.00 per bag? Well it is and has been upgraded to the same mixture that we are using in our new peony fields. All ingredients are either raised and expelled on our farm and of chemical free (or_an_c) composition. We can’t use that word but think you can figure it out. Our son is at college so one of our workers is trying out his entrepreneurship. One bag per peony starter fertilizer will provide years of necessary nutrients. Address is 10958 70th St SW, Howard Lake, MN. For some of you who missed the deadline for our first dig peonies, now is the time to redeem yourself by buying some peonies at our barn sale!

The first ship peonies are soon to be on their way!

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A couple of days ago the peony barn was cleaned and prepared for the picking and packing of the peonies.

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Can you say tubs loaded with peonies? This is a partial shot of the tubs waiting for the pickers to come through with customer orders in hand. Each tub and peony root is labeled and alphabetized so the picking is easier.

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Susan is one of our new peony pickers. She and the team had fun today picking all the shipping orders. Most of those orders will go out on Monday, September 12th so peony lovers, next week it should be time for you to plant!

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Did you order the Harry L Smith peony? One of these peonies might be yours!

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Dan S continues to amaze us with his ever careful eye in providing the most peony ‘eyes’ in the orders. If you plan on coming out to the Peony Barn Sale to pick up some more peonies, make sure to tip him well so he can help you find the best peony root! The system the picking team has developed requires each order to be double checked by another person to make sure all the peony orders are filled correctly. Tomorrow the pick up orders will be filled and placed into the coolers for the upcoming peony pick up days on Friday, September 16th and Saturday, September 17th from 9 am to 5 PM. More information will be posted about the Peony Barn Sale but for those of you who have visited before, might I suggest to come early for the best selection. The peonies we will have on sale are excess retail peony roots as well as smaller peony roots that did not pass our retail peony root requirements.

So what does a swenson gardens peony plant look like?

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For those of you who grow peonies, yes the foliage, stems and flowers look wonderful above ground; but, we LOVE what is happening below ground level. Here a recently dug peony is hoisted up on to one of our washing stands. Its much easier to gently spray off any dirt at or near eye level instead of wrestling with it on the ground. This also prevents roots from breaking off as you can wash them from the top, sides and underneath through the mesh screen. This is an example of one of our 4-year old plants and yes it is huge. We dig our plants anywhere between 3 and 5 years old depending on the variety. The peonies that are faster growing are dug in 3-years versus slower growing varieties that are dug in their 4th or 5th year. Peonies are interesting plants when it comes to the best time to dig them.

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After the peonies have rested for a few hours after they’ve been washed, the team of surgeons aka cutters/dividers, carefully cut the peonies into retail divisions. Here Danny takes on some of our illustrious intersection hybrid peonies. They are considered the toughest peony to divide. Some of our dividers like the garden/herbaceous peonies better than the intersectionals, but Danny and I LOVE to divide the intersectional hybrid peonies!

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Again this year, Candy Stripe was our most popular peony. Needless to say here is a table full of retail divisions that are waiting for the processing team to do the final washing before they enter our coolers for filling orders. From the time a peony is dug, within 24-hours it has gone through the complete process and is put to rest in our coolers. This is extreme peony digging, washing, dividing, washing and cooler, but fresh and healthy roots is a must around here! Yes it means 12 to 14 hour days, but we do what is best for the peonies, period!

recent visitors to our peony farm

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Yesterday a flock of 11 Sandhill Cranes visited our peony farm. Though they were a week early for peony pick up days and our annual peony barn sale on September 16th and 17th, they sure inspired me to run and get the big 70-400mm Sony G lens. They stayed around for a few hours then took flight and headed south. If only now the mosquitoes would do the same as I think Sandhills don’t even bother trying to make a meal out of a few thousand of them. Or maybe because they couldn’t find a peony in bloom, they decided to leave?