Sunday, 23 February 2014

Tree Peonies, do they need pruning?

Tree Peonies are now for sale at the garden centre. The other day I bought one as a birthday gift for a girlfriend of mine.

In May the  "paper" flowers of the Tree Peony will blossom. When they are flowering I would fancy sitting next to them all day! Tree Peonies are true eye-catchers. However, despite the name, they are not exactly a tree, but more of a large shrub, about 1.50 m high.

I have already seen buds on my white Tree Peony this week. Touching, to see those little rolled up baby leaves. A little bit early though because this a dangerous period for a Tree Peony. If we get some frost, the buds might freeze. To prevent this, I'll cover the buds with a piece of bubble wrap or an old sheet. However, I do not expect much frost to come for the rest of this winter. Happy me!

I have been asked on a regular basis whether I prune the Tree Peonies. The answer is: yes I prune them, but very little.

The procedure is as follows. At this time of the year you will be able to see what parts can be pruned off. The flower and leaf buds that will bloom the coming season have a soft red colour. Keep all the buds with this colour. I cut off anything that sticks out above these soft red coloured pieces, probably an old seed head or a piece of branch without buttons. 

This magical plant is actually quite easy. Just a little pruning in spring. That's all. And don’t forget to enjoy it when it is flowering. It only last for a week!

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Tree Peony in May.

In full bloom.

Tree Peony against the old barn.

The same spot, in Februari.

The soft red coloured buds.

Prune above the bud.

And again.

Old seed head.

Touching, to see those little rolled up baby leaves.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

A garden tour with gnome Joop

 Hi there I'm gnome Joop. I have been standing in this garden for quite some years now. You may think this is a beautiful garden - at least the lady owner is quite enthusiastic about it - but in my opinion it is rather disappointing. Let me show you around.

 Here you can see me standing on the sidewalk along the garden. Note that the hedge is much too high. The lady owner says that's against the deer!? As if deer could be bothered about such a tiny hedge! Furthermore I would think the border itself sure could do with some attention. It would improve a lot. Let's take a walk to the front garden.

Here I am in the front yard, at the opposite side of the hedge that is. She writes lyrical about blooming snowdrops here, but I cannot seem to find them, do you? And what about the grass? It is up to my knees! Well I have had it over here, lets walk along the barn to her picking garden. The place where in general you can find me standing under the Hazelnut tree.

Here we see a part of that picking garden. Ever since she has trimmed the Hazelnut tree (on the left side of the bucket) I suffer from the rain and the sun. As you will understand that did not any good to me or my clothing. But my opinion, has never been asked. She completely ignores me as if I were not there!

On the far side of the barn there is another problem area. Why does she keep all these old garbage cans? And what purpose serve these pots with Hosta on top of these cans? What a mess!

A little bit further in the garden we get to, what she calls the “long border”. Long border? Maybe for a gnome, but for humans this border is not that long at all. There are three fruit trees in this border, which she pruned this week. At the end of this border you can find her plastic greenhouses. Let's take a look

She had filled these plastic greenhouses with flower bulbs in pots. Why? There are already thousands of flower bulbs in her garden! You can find her in these greenhouses almost every day, looking at the bulbs. Nonsense of course! Flower bulbs do not grow quicker by looking at them.

Let us look the other way around to the “boxwood” garden. She keeps calling this garden area that way, although she cleared all the boxwood from this garden last autumn. Silly woman. It is very spacious she says nowadays. Bare would be a better word to my opinion.


The greenhouses in the background, that is where we were a few moments ago. This is the terrace by the kitchen, with the basket of ornamental cabbages. Well, I must admit, these cabbages still look nice. We once more go around a corner. Thus we arrive at a mini garden.

Do you see that moss on the paving? If it goes on growing like this, eventually you will not be able to see any paving at all! Here she has planted some special snowdrops she says. I'll show you.

 They are white and large!?

 Once again around another corner. The street is behind the hedge on the right. In this section of the garden we find an olive tree. This year it actually looks green. You should have seen it last year, not a leaf in sight. The other plants there are called Mattiola. In winter they smell like cauliflower. Not my cup of tea.

We have arrived in the front yard again. I think we can all agree that there was not that much to see in this garden. Now you know that it is best to take everything she writes with a grain of salt.

See you next time,

Gnome Joop