Swenson Gardens

Peony field jottings…Part 2


How do you transfer a few thousand peony roots to the propagation fields? At our scale, every bare root peony is tagged, contained in plastic tubs, alphabetized and transported on a trailer to the fields. Yes this is very time consuming but we want to make sure that every bare root peonies are labeled correctly. Dan S in this picture has been with us since we started in 2002. Over the years we LOVE Dan S and he has been an integral part in all phases of Swenson Gardens. I’ll never forget one of our first years when we transported all the peony plants to his home to wash them. At the time we lived on a city lot and the previous year we washed them there but our small back yard turned into a mud pit. Thanks Dan S for allowing us that year to muddy up your rural yard. Now that we are on a farm, mud is ok! Dan S is still helping out with the processing, shipping and planting of peonies. His attention to detail is greatly appreciated especially with our international orders that need to be free of all soil. Thanks again Dan S and look forward to seeing you again next year!


Yikes! Now what? With a few hundred tubs of peonies how do you keep track of every one? Cara would you be interested in organizing the field maps? Her answer was confidently ‘YES’! Cara has been with us four years now and each year she surprises us with her gifts and talents. This fall her organizational skills really shined during planting time. Each row is carefully mapped out so the transfer to Excel spreadsheets was seamless. Whenever anything needed organizing…Cara? ‘Yes I’ll do it!’ Thanks Cara for being detailed! You can never have enough backups to backups at this scale.


So how do you fit a few hundred tubs of multiple quantities in each row making sure they are also alphabetized? During this time of planting I’ve found it best to just stay away from Danny! In picture Danny, (on left) is mapping out the row for whatever variety comes his way in the tubs…alphabetically! I’ll never forget the year he took over the layout of the fields. It just so happened to coincide with the purchase of Roger Anderson’s seedlings. Now was that planned right or what? Leaving early one morning to travel 7 hours east to Roger’s house, load a few thousand peonies (thanks Roger for your digging crew) and then traveled 7 hours west to our farm. Then divide, process and organize three separate fields a few days later. No wonder he was interesting to be around as he mapped out 3,300 roots. I didn’t think he would come back after that year as he was the one to make sure all roots were labeled and alphabetized in the fields. Since then that’s the only way we will put a bare root peony in the ground! Thanks Danny for changing our planting ways! Danny’s responsibilities continue to expand. Besides heading up the digging and planting crew, his hybridizing skills are world class! With Roger Anderson as his mentor, I can’t wait for the next generation of Roger’s seedlings, let alone Danny’s seedlings! Be patient gardening friends as new varieties come from us in a few years!


Yes we touch and place EVERY bare root peony in the rows! Again very time consuming, but we want to make sure that each and every one of our peonies are planted at the correct eye to ground level location. At this scale, additional manual labor is warranted. Once the roots are set, rows are covered, marked and then, yes, a large Blizzard and fixin’s are deservedly paid for by yours truly at Dairy Queen! Yes planting 1,500 peonies this fall has its perks!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *