Here's BigBoy yesterday with our just blooming peonies. note the cheesy, practiced smile. I only have 4 flowers this year. But I'll take it! I had low expectations for these guys: tossed into a huge pot, moved in the back of the mama-mobile in July last summer, and neglected for the most part.
This is why Peonies have my heart. They may get a little pissy when you transplant them, but for the most part they don't care a whole lot on how you treat them. I'm serious. BigBoy went with me to visit the "family farm" in Nebraska when he was just about a 18 months old. We met up with my dad and stayed with my great aunt on the same farm that my grandfather was born on. It was so wonderful staying there, getting to know her better (the last time I was there was with my dad when I was about 4). It turned into a bit of a reunion. My uncle showed up with my aunt. My dad's cousin flew in with her hubby. Other cousins drove up, over and down. We did a big dinner at the local "fancy place." The whole nine. Basically because my dad had a business trip nearby and he decided to extend the trip, see the family and have me and BB join him. Viola! Family reunion.
So back on the farm. We were lucky enough to be invited to stay with my great aunt. On the last day I was there, I think my dad was already gone, we hung out in the yard just chatting. BB was chasing a farm cat-- who knows WHAT that fur ball was traveling with. We talked about flowers and plants and how I wanted to plant a bunch at our then new home back in Indianapolis. I mentioned I was thinking about planting Peonies. How I love them, yada yada. Apparently there was a patch in the yard with my Great Grandmother's Peonies. seriously? I had no idea what they looked like, we didn't have peonies in CA. And in summer they look like dying bushes. See pic: circa 2005, Nebraska. And yes, BB is wearing a John Deere hat! My little Buddha boy. pitter patter.
Then she suggested digging up a bunch with BB and taking them home with me.Wait, what? On the plane, back to Indy?? Um,okay. Before I could really think about it she grabbed her pitch fork and looked at BB. C'mon buddy! Let's go dig 'em up! This is why Farm Women have the other part of my heart. You don't pussy foot around. We had an idea and you just do it. You drag an 18 month old over to a flower patch and start using a pitch fork and you get him working too. He picked them out of the dirt.
Now how to get them home. We threw them all into plastic grocery bags and tossed them into my suitcase. I planted them a while after being home (I think it was volleyball season and BigDaddy was gone a LOT) and just hoped for the best. I really, really hoped they hadn't gotten all moldy in the triple layered, knotted, plastic bags. I know. My bad. After the first hissy fit on year one, they were GORGEOUS.
Now mind you, Peony Enthusiasts will have heart attacks right about now. We did this is August. GASP! Not September??? We didn't worry about splitting the eyes properly, washing off the extra dirt, handling them "just so." These plants last forever, are everywhere around here and I doubt they managed to do that on farms with everyone handling them "just so." I don't cage them or give them supports nor do I plan to.
As a new gardener, I tend to get so hung up on the "have to's" especially since I typically google subject matter. INFORMATION OVERLOAD. Instead of researching, planning, and figuring out how to do something, I need to remind myself it's okay to just go for it sometimes. And if it doesn't go as planned? Well, we learn from our mistakes. Tweak and move forward...