Swenson Gardens

Monthly Archive: June 2017


WOW what a day’s difference with the peonies blooming! Depending on which field and if the field is facing south, about 15-20% color is showing in the varieties. The great news though is that the ‘reds’ will be peaking tomorrow and Saturday. Remember my previous post about ‘Red Charm’? Well Red Charm is in peak which means some of the other reds like Red Grace, Christmas Velvet, America, Dad, Eliza Lundy and Burma Midnight are at peak or soon as well. The following pics were shot moments ago. First one is Red Charm, second is Red Grace and finally not to be out done by my lovely wife Becky from yesterdays post, is America.

Red Charm-1

Red Grace-1


For those of you who visited us last year, most of these were past peak so load up the car and head east, west, north and south to see these amazing peonies! Speaking of my last post, boots are not required for tomorrow. Today’s sun and wind really dried up some of the wet spots getting between the fields. I have been trying for years to get a good pic of ‘Laura Magnuson’. Very tough to photograph especially in full sun. Driving past our west field you could see Laura from a distance. Ok full frame Sony lets see what you can do…I’m happy! Did I tell you I LOVE this camera! Yes after all these years, was finally able to shoot Laura Magnuson in her vivid color.

Laura M-1

I’m ok now and yes the nebulizer treatment for another round of bronchitis is finally wearing off. Thankfully the Sony can keep up to me as albutoral was certainly working in the fields taking pics tonight! Whew but wait what is that peony over there? I didn’t see mama, papa or baby bear so it must be ‘Goldilocks’. Yes Goldilocks is at peak bloom and unfortunately the signs of our two nights of frost are noticeable as well. Growing peonies in the north country is always a challenge especially when it comes to late spring surprises. Oh well we’re ok with living here and enjoying the ever changing weather no matter what happens. Will be interesting to see if some of the mids and lates show signs of frost damage on some of the outer petals. Here is a great shot of Goldilocks!


Alas it is time to stop and get this post out to you before another neb treatment. We are so looking forward to seeing you on June 2nd and I will be posting that night for Peony Field Updates for those of you coming out on June 3rd. I leave you with this shot of our west field looking north from our information tent. Though it is not a sea of color for the next two days, there are some extraordinary early and early to mid peonies that are excited to see you as well at Swenson Gardens Peony Field Days!



All hands on deck here to get the peonies ready for our Peony Field Days on June 2nd and 3rd. Please note we will not be open on June 4th. Where we are at in the bloom time today is early and some early to mid varieties. Most of the very early varieties are now done. With the warmer weather coming on Thursday and Friday, wouldn’t be surprised if some of the mids start. Today a few of the intersectional hybrid peonies started to show some color. One of my top five reds, ‘America’, should be peaking by Friday. Becky was out photographing some pics for our social media sites so she is the guest photographer on the following pics. The first one is America and the second one is Lotus Bloom.

SG 2017 America Row WMSG 2017 Lotus Bloom row WM

I am always amazed at the various micro-climates in our growing fields. Perhaps you notice that in your gardens too when the same peonies grow at different stages based on their location. In one of our test fields, Morning Lilac and Gordon E Simonsin were at their peak bloom. Morning Lilac is usually one of our first intersectional hybrid peonies to bloom. This is not the case in the fields that will be open for your trip to Peony Field Days. Hillary, First Arrival and Yellow Emperor showed some color today. The first one is Morning Lilac and the second one is Gordon E Simonsin.

Morning Lilac-1Gordon E Simonsin-1

For those of you unfamiliar with the terms early, mid and late blooms, the standard to determine peonies bloom times are based on when Red Charm blooms. Any varieties blooming before Red Charm are considered very early and early. Those blooming after Red Charm are considered early to mid, mid, mid to late, late and very late. Red Charm, Red Grace and Christmas Velvet started to bloom today. They should peak later this week or on Saturday. Another one of my top five reds is pictured below, Christmas Velvet.

Christmas Velvet-1

I’m assuming that with the warmer weather coming, our fields will start to show more color. Remember that if you are coming on the 2nd or 3rd, the color and varieties will change for the 9th and 10th. Many of our gardening friends come on the 2nd or 3rd and also on the 9th and 10th. That way they can see more varieties as their bloom time changes. Looking ahead at the weather, I’m sure you also see the 40% chance of thunderstorms on Saturday, June 3rd. Make sure to check our blog, Facebook and 763-350-2051 for any changes and closures due to severe weather. Now for insurance purposes, I do have to post the following for those of you who will be stopping out at Peony Field Days. Swenson Gardens will not be liable for any injury or loss while you are on our property located at 10958 70th Street SW, Howard Lake, MN 55349. Please be careful on our property as we want all of you to enjoy your visit whether walking or driving on our property. The parking lot will be located on the east side of our driveway close to 70th Street SW. The information tent is located on the west side of our driveway. Stop in there first before walking through our fields to pick up your field maps and additional info.  For those of you who are enjoying our fields from a vehicle, you can drive straight north on our driveway and be able to view some of our peonies up close on the east side of our driveway. Proceed north past our home and there is a turn around circle just past our home. Oh and yes we will have a mini biff in the parking lot. Parents make sure to keep tabs on your children while walking through the fields. We are a dog and cat friendly farm as long as they are on a leash and you know what to do with number 2’s! The honey bees that are collecting pollen on the peonies are from our hives. They are quite docile as they are Italian honey bees. They won’t sting you unless harassed so let them do their thing and snap a photo or two. We do not sell cut flower peonies but will be happy to sell you some bare root peonies for pick up or delivery in the fall! Don’t forget to bring your camera, sunscreen, bug spray (please do not spray in the peony fields) and boots as some of the areas to walk between the fields are wet. We did plant a cover crop between the rows instead of walking on bare dirt. Also, if you want to have a picnic with family and friends, you are able to lay out a blanket south of our home on our lawn. There you will literally get a birds eye view of the Purple Martins who are tending to their young in our Purple Martin houses. I haven’t seen the Pie Bald Robin lately so not sure if it has left or perhaps it was the female and she is on her nest. Finally, all our fields south of our home will be open during your visit. This includes the fields south of our home which has the wind fence around them. Yes you will get a sneak peak at some amazing new varieties coming out in the next few years. Please note that any areas north of our home are not open during your visit including the pastures where the fertilizer production team resides and yes the fences are electric. Some of you have asked about local restaurants, here are a few we suggest; Delano – Peppermint Twist, Waverly – Waverly Cafe, Howard Lake – Frontera Cafe & Bistro and Cokato – Bait & Hook (dinner only and reservations accepted). We are looking forward to seeing you at Peony Field Days and of course the peonies are too!