Peonies – A Delicate Looking Plant that is Super Tough

I first noticed Peonies when I was working at a garden center more than 10 years ago. They stood out to me, not because of how they looked but because they sold in a small size for an exorbitant price – something like $40 for a 1-gallon plant. For this reason, I always associated them with something precious, fragile and expensive. And while they can be expensive, they certainly are not fragile, read on to learn more.

Peony Chart
(Chart showing different types of peony flowers)
Peony Bud
A peony in bud, ready for transplant

The high cost is due to their spectacular flowers which are often used in bouquets. The flowers come in a variety of colors and forms, and many are highly fragrant. Once out of bloom peonies fade into the background, and depending on summer temperatures their foliage can burn and turn yellow. In my garden, they flower around Mother’s Day, which is a nice treat every year.

But the thing that surprised me most about peonies is how tough they are. I’ve now transplanted several dozen that were discarded from other gardens, and I’ve also moved them around to different places in my yard, often providing them with very little care. Because they are a rhizome they require only a shallow hole and are surprisingly drought tolerant. They have performed well in both full sun and partial shade for me.

I think the only downside of peonies is that they aren’t much to look at when out of bloom. But, given how impressive they are when in bloom I grow them happily. Looking to add a tough but beautiful plant to your garden? Contact Bright Leaf Landscaping at (919) 619-4460 or fill out our online contact form. Design and installation are our expertise, and we are always happy to meet with new clients to discuss potential projects!

My New Year’s Resolutions as a Gardener

Tis the season for resolutions and while I don’t tend to make a lot I’ve realized that there are a few changes that could improve my gardening and make my life easier. Read on to learn more.

Plant Tags
Plant Tags

1. Find an easy way to document the names of plants that I add to my garden. I’ve never been good about recording the plants that I add to the garden. In some cases it’s unnecessary if the plant is easily identifiable or if there are only a few varieties available. But, many perennials are available in tons of varieties and while I always feel confident that I will remember which I selected I never do. Then when a plant does well and I want to order more I can’t remember the name. Part of the issue is that I always leave this task to the end of my gardening day, after the tools are put away, the leaves are raked, and I’m just ready to be done. I think a simple spreadsheet where I could record the name of the plant when I purchase it, rather than after I plant it would be sufficient, so I’m deciding to give that a try this year. Continue reading My New Year’s Resolutions as a Gardener

November: Gifts for Gardeners – My Recommendations

When I look at my favorite design blogs this time of year I’m overwhelmed with the number of gift guides offering recommendations on candles, decorations, furniture etc. And as an avid gardener I know that there are several tools that I regularly recommend to others. So, if you’re shopping for the perfect gift for a gardener here are my recommendations.

Kobalt Battery Operated Blower

Kobalt Battery Operated Blower Continue reading November: Gifts for Gardeners – My Recommendations

September: Dead vs. Dormant – How to Tell the Difference

As we wind down from summer and get ready for fall it’s important to remember that this is also a time of change for our plants. Deciduous shrubs and trees will show their fall color, evergreens may shed, and perennials will start to die back. For my clients who are new to gardening this can be a confusing time. It’s not unusual for me to hear from clients that one of their plants is dead, when in fact it is just entering dormancy. Read on to learn more.



Continue reading September: Dead vs. Dormant – How to Tell the Difference

Selecting Plants for a Porch – My Strategy and Recommendations

 One of the best features of my house is the big screened in porch in my backyard. Except for the coldest months of the year my family – including our cats – love to spend time here. When we moved in almost 10 years ago I was excited to add plants to the space, but quickly realized that not all plants work well in this environment. Though my porch is on the south side of the house it is actually quite shady, making most flowering plants not an option. Additionally, I am notoriously bad at watering my containers, so my plants need to be highly drought tolerant. Read on to learn about some evergreen perennials that have worked great for my space for several years.

Aspidistra elatior

Aspidistra elatior

Continue reading Selecting Plants for a Porch – My Strategy and Recommendations