Swenson Gardens

Monthly Archive: June 2015

Photographing peony…surprises?

Ruth Cobb SpidersTonight’s peony photography walk in the field yielded some amazing pictures with the Tamron macro lens. I saw this angle and said WOW! You see a primary bud, somewhat tarnished by the rains, and its secondary bud bloomed first? Normally its the other way around. Looks cool right? Hover your cursor over the pic to blow it up and see what is hiding in the lower guard petals. Now I’m ok with snakes but not ok with spiders! The joy of shooting with a macro lens, I think! Most people would lightroom or photoshop those out, but I just had to share this with you. Happy shooting!

Peony field jottings…

Ruth CobbGreetings dear peony friends! Sorry for late post as we’ve been a tad busy after Peony Field Days, putting up nearly 80 round bales of hay and yes field maintenance. With all the off and on rain, the weeds have gone crazy without being able to keep ahead of them in the muddy fields. As I mentioned in an earlier post, tonight I had the chance to walk leisurely through the peony fields to see who might be the very last variety to bloom. Again the winner pictured here is ‘Ruth Cobb’. She has won for the past few years with the most primary and secondary blooms still showing. She also makes a wonderful cut flower, no staking and does not have any fragrance.

Chiffon Parfait‘Chiffon Parfait’ came in second with the most peony color showing. Though Chiffon needs staking with its huge primary blooms and many side buds, it really is a treat to see it still in bloom. Chiffon also is a wonderful cut flower with extended vase life and mildly fragrant.

Felix SupremeAn old fashion ‘Felix Supreme’ came in third with only secondary blooms. All the primary’s are done and yes he does need staking as most of the blooms were kissing the earth.

Old FaithfulFourth place went to ‘Old Faithful’ with all secondary blooms with most of them tarnished on the edges from all the rainfall. Yet his majestic appearance was held high due to his stout stems. You just have to have one or many ‘Old Faithful’ peonies as his stately appearance is truly a sight to behold!

Prairie CharmSome one peony bloom wonders were hiding in some of the rows! ‘Prairie Charm’ was the only yellow intersectional hybrid peony bloom that I found. Yes it was a secondary bloom but oh what fun! Speaking of fun…Coral CharmWould you believe a ‘Coral Charm’ secondary bud was found in one of our micro-climate field locations? That truly made my night as finding hidden gems is a treat! Happy gardening to all!

Happy Father’s Day!

IMG_0881Isn’t it fun to go back through some early pictures of our dad’s! This photo was taken in the spring of 2004 in our first peony field. Yesterday I had the chance to visit him at his long term care facility where he is living. At 90+ years old, it was fun to reminisce about some of the ‘times’ he had on our peony farm. He always loves spending time in the fields, yes, weeding and watering in the plants when they were first planted. He also loved coffee even on hot days. Since we were leasing land on our first field in Delano, I received a call from the land owner that they did not see my dad in the field. I told them he might be taking a nap under a tree as he liked to do. No sighting of him and thoughts of him wandering off and passing on came to mind. We were living about 2 miles away from the field so off we went to try and find him. After combing the fields and adjoining woods we couldn’t find him. We then started to expand our search and low and behold, found him walking a few blocks away from our home. Upon driving up to him, we asked him what happened? He said he needed more ‘coffee’ so he walked the mile and a half to a gas station and had a cup of coffee! So all dad’s today, enjoy a cup a coffee and be thankful you have the chance to do that! So yesterday, I bought dad a cup of coffee (and a donut) to celebrate Father’s Day! Happy Father’s Day dad and thanks for your love of farming!

Peony field jottings…

Victoria LincolnNot sure if it is busier preparing for Peony Field Days or catching up after its over! We still have some late’s to open but I did want to post a picture that is coming on our website. Victoria Lincoln is this variety and seeing her bloom for the first time as a mature plant really caught my eye. Nice stiff stems and extended bloom time. We are also seeing many of the side/secondary blooms starting to bloom. Flowers may not be as big but oh what fun to see more color! Speaking of color, Bartzella and Garden Treasure continue to put on a show. All our kids are back from their trips so it will be nice to catch up with them as well. Happy gardening!

Peony Field Days 2015 Recap

DSC09179Thank you to the 2,400+ gardeners, photographers, artists and friends who visited Peony Field Days over the four days of being open to the public this year! It was fun to talk with you and share, what we think, a piece of Heaven. We are so blessed to be able to share this with you and trust your returning or first visit to our fields was a treat as well. It is hard to predict the weather and bloom times but for those of you who attended on June 13th, that was the overall peak color percentage this year. Even yesterday, June 14th, the fields have started their downward  progression for overall color. With some late varieties and of course the amazing intersectional hybrids, are still waiting to bloom, I’ll update with ‘colors’ as the weeks progress. Yes weeks on some intersectionals! In years past, ‘Bartzella’ has had color for four weeks. Topeka Coral, pictured above, was the overall winner for number of bare-root peonies ordered. She put on a display over the last two weeks that wowed even us! Close behind was Bartzella, Hillary, Candy Stripe, Red Grace, Coral Sunset and many others. Thank you again for visiting Peony Field Days, entrusting us with growing chemical -free peonies and placing orders with Swenson Gardens. Ordering is still available through our online store and by going to our ‘How to order’ page for printable order forms. Pick up orders are only available through mail-order and NOT through our online store. Happy gardening!

Peony Field Day Update for June 13th

We have a very light drizzle that just started out here. Might want to bring rain gear and umbrella just to be sure. Fields are still dry but waterproof boots may be wise as well to bring. Doesn’t appear like rain but off and on drizzle. See you at Peony Field Days!

Peony Field Days June 13th

DSC09094Thank you all for coming out to our Peony Field Days today especially Roux! What a charmer and our daughter fell in love with her. We are very dog friendly here as long as the owners are kept on a leash and take any dodo with you home. Thank you also to those who were waiting while we tried to valet park some vehicles during the peak of all those attending. We appreciated your patience and have rectified the issue by opening up a parking area in one of our adjacent hay fields. More info and better flow of traffic tomorrow so parking directions will be given at the information tent so please stop at the information sign on the driveway. Please note if you see vehicles coming south on our driveway as they are leaving Peony FIeld Days, please wait on 70th Street SW until the road is clear to head north. Speaking of pea,k attendance that is, we had almost 700 gardeners visit today which is our all time single day attendance. Tomorrow could be more and we are ready for you with more staff members helping. The other peak pertains to yes, the peonies! WE ARE IN PEAK BLOOM! Yahoo! Very fun to see about 70% color in the fields and the blooms are still holding due to the cooler temps. More opened later today with about a dozen or so late’s and very late’s not showing. Can you also say tomorrow a perfect photography day? Cloudy and reduced wind speed makes for a great shoot. I will be roaming the fields so stop me to talk photographing peonies. It was fun to speak with some of you today and remember shoot in ‘P’, set ISO to 400 during less wind and 800 during windier days, white balance to sunny, cloudy or shade depending on sky conditions and focal point/metering to ‘spot’ or ‘center weighted’. Have a safe trip out here and remember our peak attendance time today was 10:30 am to 2:30 PM. Arriving at 9 am or after 2:30 PM is the ‘bloggers’ secret. Remember Saturday, June 13th is our final day of Peony Field Days this year. We are not open on Sunday, June 14th. See you at Peony Field Days!

Peony Field Days Update

DSC08072Peony Field Days update for Friday, June 12th from 9 am to 5 PM. Well the no staking peonies made it and the floppers didn’t. With no way to cage/hoop those varieties, there are numbers of peony blooms leaning over and kissing the ground. We tried to cut a few last night before the rains came. One thing you will notice on ‘fragrant’ peonies after the rain, they are not as fragrant. Oh well there is always another year and oh yes, more fragrant ones to bloom including one of our favorite ‘fragrant’ variety called ‘Rose Pearl’. Since she is a late bloomer, she may be open tomorrow or Saturday. When you see her in the fields, you have to smell her. Kind’ve weird saying that but what happens in the peony field, stays in the peony field. Its always great to see gardeners at Peony Field Days  stop in at the information tent with yellow makeup around their noses. Now there is a true gardener! Ok so here is where we are at bloom time for tomorrow, the very early and most early’s are done. Some early to mid and mids are past their peak and/or primary buds are done and secondary are starting to show. Some intersectional hybrids are past their peak while some are not at peak yet. The mid to late’s and late’s have started and other late’s are still in bud. With the cooler temps tonight, not much change until later in the day tomorrow. We’re at 60-70% color but the high temps earlier this week and rain really did a number on some of the vibrant early to mid and mids. I would suggest waterproof boots on Friday as some spots are very muddy but should dry out as the day progresses. If you can make it on Friday vs Saturday, that would be great as we are expecting a rather large attendance on Saturday. For you bloggers, the busiest time is between 10 am and 3 PM. Just saying that 9 am or after 3 PM might be a good time to visit. Dare I mention you know who that flies around seeking to suck our blood? Yes they are out seeking their next victim IF it is a calm day. Last week we were blessed with wind and looks like tomorrow will be windy as well. Now for a bit of a public announcement per our insurance carrier’s request, (sorry but we have to do this in order to keep our insurance and you gardeners safe once you visit our farm), Swenson Gardens, Keith and Becky Swenson and any staff member will not be liable for any implied, incurred and actual injury or death when visiting our property at 10958 70th Street SW, Howard Lake, MN 55349. Our property is a working farm so please make sure all children are with their parent(s) and kept away from the pond, electric fences, animals, equipment and any vehicles that may be driving and/or parking on our driveway. We want to make sure your visit at our farm is safe and for those of you driving and parking your vehicles, please be careful when adults and children are walking on our driveway. Ok that’s all about that as we do want the public to enjoy our peonies and property but please be safe and careful!

When you drive up our driveway continue north to the information tent. PLEASE DO NOT PARK ANYWHERE SOUTH OF THE INFORMATION TENT! We will give you parking instructions once you get to the information tent. Our driveway is barely able to accommodate two vehicles approaching each other so if you are on 70th Street SW and see any vehicles coming south on our driveway, please wait till our driveway is clear and then proceed north to the information tent. Thank you!

Have a safe trip out here tomorrow and see you at Peony Field Days!

Peony field jottings…

DSC08058So far so good in the peony fields! The severe storms and heavy rains did not hit us last night. Pretty cool! Scattered showers this afternoon but no 1 to 3 inches of rain that was forecast yesterday. You sure can tell though the peonies that are not ‘no staking’. Weather looks absolutely wonderful for Peony Field Days on Friday and Saturday. The operator of the aerial videos is soon to be on his way to Washington D.C. as the student representative for Wright-Hennepin Electric Cooperative so no videos until he returns in a week. Will post more on Peony Field Days tonight.

Peony Field Days June 12th and 13th

DSC08026Friday, June 12th and Saturday, June 13th are our final Peony FIeld Days for 2015. The times are 9 am to 5 PM. We will post on Blog and Facebook if there are any changes due to weather conditions. You can also call us at 763.350.2051 for changes as well. The fields look spectacular and peaking at the right time provided the weather forecast for tonight and tomorrow change! It may be a chance to see in person what we mean by ‘no staking’ in our product descriptions IF the storms actually occur. Last evening we had a few sprinkles but the severe storms were north of us. With the 90 degree temps yesterday, a few of the late blooming varieties are showing. Candy Stripe is in bloom so those of you last week who were disappointed that he wasn’t in bloom, please come back on Friday or Saturday to see one of our top five selling peonies. For those of you who have been viewing our aerial Peony Field Tour video, our son is trying to give you a birds eye view of the fields open during Peony Field Days. Its been very windy so he’s doing a great job trying to control it. Now to get an cloudy day so the colors will pop. All the intersectional hybrid peonies are blooming now. The beauty of this type of peony is the fact that their blooms are long lasting and most of them bloom a second time.

DSC08066Bartzella is starting to peak on his/her first wave of blooms and notice how high the second bloom stems are this year because of the cooler temps throughout much of the growing season…until yesterday. Our record number of blooms for a 5-year old plant was 55 blooms over a 28-day period. Rumors have been 80+ blooms (on the same plant) but we have not seen that as we do not grow them that long in the fields. For those of you considering a yellow intersectional hybrid peony, Bart is still our favorite and another variety that is in our top five sales every year. The address again for Peony Field Days is 10958 70th Street SW, Howard Lake, MN. For those of you coming from the south on County Road 6, Winstock is going on in Winsted on Friday and Saturday. You may want to bypass Winsted if at all possible. I think tomorrow night I may post what’s not in bloom as that might be easier than what is in bloom. As of today there are maybe 20 mid-late and late varieties that haven’t popped yet. If weather is happening in the fields tomorrow evening, I may not venture out to get those to you. Will see how the day goes and please pray that the storms miss us! Thanks!