Swenson Gardens

Monthly Archive: April 2016

Peony field jottings…


Do you remember this shot from a previous post regarding when to remove mulch from first year peonies in USDA Zones 2-5? Yes this is the same tulip clump shot almost 2-weeks ago! Not much has changed since the onset of colder temps. This morning we had 24 F degrees here on the peony farm. With warmer temps expected next week, we should have tulip blooms in a couple of weeks?


This Japanese Tree Peony seedling has not changed much from a couple of weeks ago. Shot with the same macro lens as in previous posts today, really brings out the detail of the buds soon to be formation of the stems, foliage and yes blooms. Don’t you just love peonies?


One lone peony soldier provides an excellent shot to detail these amazing plants! It is so much fun walking around the fields looking for peony soldiers that provide that special shot.


These first year peony soldiers seem content to stand at attention waiting for warmer weather. No matter what peony zone you live in, please enjoy all aspects of the 2016 peony season!

Springtime Macro Photography


Finally some spring color on the peony farm! The crocus arrived today ushering hope for more coloring against the pale landscape.


Our Magnolia Tree is soon to pop with its delicate white blooms and fragrance that is almost as nice as the Rose Pearl peony.


Now on to my second favorite willow called the ‘Arctic Willow’. Its grayish/blue winter stems are now changing to their spring/summer coloring and yes, the buds are forming.


Finding another American Highbush Cranberry shrub left me in awe, again, looking through the macro lens. Man do I need color soon as this is the second pic of this shrub knowing how close this red is to our ‘America’ peony!

Macro and Portrait Photography…


We LOVE milkweed here on our peony farm! This portrait shot of last years crop provided a tremendous shot. This was shot with my favorite macro lens, a Tamron SP 90mm F/2.8 Di. Rumor has it the Dii is coming out soon and hopes of having one by peony bloom time is on my wish list. Milkweed is a staple for Monarch butterflies so we try NOT to mow down any in the pastures and ditches.


Is macro photography fun or what? Moving in a little closer provided this unbelievable shot! Three of last years seeds still remained in the pod so bring on the macro! With a 15 mph wind, had to bump up the shutter speed to catch the fine hairs attached to the seeds.


Okay so I love pebbles, yes pebbles. Macro photography is a completely different world when looking though the lens. I can’t wait for the carpels and staminodes to show themselves in the peony blooms!

Peony Farm Jottings…


Mr Mischief, aka Redd, was at it again today when I strolled through our peony farm. From previous posts, he has a tendency to find…yes, SNAKES! Well little did he know that one of the self defenses of snakes is a nasty tasting slime that didn’t go very well with him! Will he now stay away from snakes? Probably not, but we still love him on the peony farm!

New Peony Composting Team Member

New Calf-1

For those of you following us on Facebook, a name our calf promotion will be posted shortly. In the mean time please give a warm welcome to a new baby boy born this morning. This photo was taken about an hour after birth and moments later he was walking on his own. He is a long legged Dexter and I really feel sorry for the mom as he is a hunk!


As you can see his mom, Squeaker, was not too happy with me getting a bit close to her new son. She warmed up to me though and allowed this photo even though her ears were pinned. Amazing how protective she is by cornering her calf and then laid down in front of him so the other noisy cows couldn’t get close to him.

Elvis 3-1

This is a bittersweet post for me as I introduce you to Elvis. Yes Elvis is in the barn! Elvis is our new herd sire (bull) as our peony composting team continues to add more employees. He is a red Dexter about a year and a half old. For those of you following Swenson Gardens Facebook, about two weeks ago I had to put my buddy, Buford down. We tried all means possible to extend his life, but being the former herd sire at 10+ years old, his time as head of the peony composting team came to an end. All our cattle are like extended family to us and many tears were shed. Seeing him suffer is something that I do not like to see with any animals. Of course now with Elvis, a new chapter begins and yes he does have an attitude. Don’t you just love his curly hair? Almost reminds me of a bouquet of peonies! Welcome Elvis to your new home!

Peony field jottings…

So much for the warmer temps that equate to peony growth in the fields! With the 30 F + degree temps as of late, peony growth has halted and so have the tulips! No worries here with the temps as they’ve been staying at or slightly below freezing at night. The last of the mulch between the rows were removed yesterday and thoughts of the weed crew starting this morning were quickly replaced with hot chocolate and a warm house. Actually hope for a killing frost to nip some of the early weeds but this spring, you never know. I don’t have the link available but please go to YouTube, search Swenson Gardens and subscribe to our video channel. We uploaded the first of many to follow this season on all the facets of planting, maintenance, tips and other how to’s. Also for those of you not on Facebook, you still can visit our Facebook site for various specials that we’ll be running through the season. You do not have to have a Facebook page to view our public site. Hope all of your peonies are doing great and stay tuned for more posts as the peony season continues!

Purple Martin sightings!

Wow is this a strange spring for peonies and yes, Purple Martins! This is the earliest sightings of Purple Martins since we’ve been following them for the past 8-years here on the farm. An adult male and female displayed their aerobatic skills and then popped into one of the homes in our 12 unit house. Picked up another fabulous house today from a friend who also has the Martin disease. He does a wonderful job in making these houses so we now have 36 units available. Tried to get a picture but they just stayed inside their new home with the cold and windy temps outside. Martin’s will send out scouts to scope out new areas which are normally last years fledglings. This pair looked right at home and as mentioned before were adults. Welcome back Martin’s to your peony farm!