Saving really old peonies
I have done a terrible job of maintaining some peonies that were my grandfather's. He planted them in zone 5 before I was born, then they were in my mother's garden thriving, and then I inherited them about 5 years ago. I have really failed them. I did not amend the soil, and it is clay over sand. The location I chose was a new bed, which quickly infiltrated with grass, and was initially full sun but now receives morning shade before the sun gets up high. And to add insult to injury, I live in zone 3. My best estimate is that these peonies are over 60 years old.
I realize most of my mistakes, and it is because these plants have great sentimental value that I would like to make things right for them. So, do I start over? Create a proper bed of proper soil and protect from infiltrating grass and weeds, and hope they handle yet another move? Is there any hope that I will see healthy plants once again? My memories of lush bouquets with overpowering fragrance are still vivid. Am I just dreaming? I know I can buy new ones that have stronger stems, etc, but that's not really the point. Any hope?