buy now or next year?

glassmouse(z5-Cent IL)October 14, 2005

I would like to order a "grab bag" of peonies that is advertised at New Peony Farms. I do have a place to plant them right now, but I would want to move them next fall to a different spot (that part of the yard is not yet ready for planting anything). Should I order and plant them this year in order to get that one year's head-start on growth, or should I just wait and order something similar next year since the shock of moving them next fall will cancel out any "one more year of growth" advantage?

New to peonies, so thanks for any advice--

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irish_rose_grower(z7 LI NY)

I'm not sure, I'm new to peonies too, but was looking for this website, New Peony Farms and didn't pull it up on my search. Do you have their website?


    Bookmark   October 14, 2005 at 4:36PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

Anything advertised as a "grab bag" is sure to be minimal plants. I think I would pot them up now and get a years growth to bring them up to a reasonable size for next years garden. Al

    Bookmark   October 15, 2005 at 9:44AM
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glassmouse(z5-Cent IL)

Thanks for the advice, Al--I will do just that since I can't resist a sale.

IrishRoseGrower: I have listed the web site below.

Does anyone know anything about New Peony Farm? There's only one comment on them in GardenWatchdog (although it is a positive comment).

Here is a link that might be useful: New Peony Farm

    Bookmark   October 15, 2005 at 10:04AM
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I believe that the New Peony Farm is what is left of Brand's Peony Farm. Brand's Peony Farm was a major hybridizer in it's day. I believe Bob Tischler was one of the more important hybridizer from Brands.

IA Z5a

    Bookmark   October 16, 2005 at 1:42AM
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irish_rose_grower(z7 LI NY)

Glass mouse, I went for it too. 6 peonies for 25.00 and the shipping was only 8.00. I hope I get at least 1 or 2 good ones and I will consider I got my monies worth. Plus I love surprises. The only thing I don't like is that they are not named -- so we will have no idea of what we got?? But I guess for 33.00 I can't expect too much.

And they stated on the site that they will be 3-5 eyes -- is this considered large sized??? I'm new to this too.


    Bookmark   October 16, 2005 at 2:30PM
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glassmouse(z5-Cent IL)

I agree with you about surprises. As much as I love a sale, I love a good surprise even more. That's why I like those "grab bag" type deals--not just for the prices, but for the fun of not knowing what you're getting. Kind of like Christmas or a birthday, I guess (except one where you pay for your own gifts!). :)

Some of the other peony sites say that they send 3-5 eye bare roots, so that's why I was hoping that this would be a good deal, and maybe not so much on the tiny side. But, as you said, I'll be pleased if just one or two turn out great, and anything else is a bonus.

Plus, I bought a Dr. Alexander Fleming yesterday from one of the big box stores for only a dollar, so I guess this is my year to try cheap peonies. I've been suffering horribly from zone envy these days, so I'm trying to compensate by growing all the things that I couldn't grow in my home state. So I've spent this year getting interested in lilacs and peonies.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2005 at 3:43PM
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irish_rose_grower(z7 LI NY)

Glassmouse - we have to stay in touch and let each other know about the peonies we get. And guess what, I LOVE lilacs too. I just bought a "little kim" I think the name is. I only want the real smelly ones! So where is your home state? Zone 5 is a cold one, I'm feeling much warmer in my zone 7 on long Island NY.

Do you think we might get tree peonies with our order? I'm so excited. I sent them an e-mail asking them if any of the ones they send out will be named? (Come on and throw us a bone, at least give us a name of a couple of them ;-)

I'll let you know if they respond.

By the way, how did you get the name glass mouse?


    Bookmark   October 16, 2005 at 4:42PM
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glassmouse(z5-Cent IL)

I was thinking the same thing--that we should stay in touch and compare notes when our sale peonies bloom. Although that might be a couple of years, from what I understand.

I don't think any of the peonies will be tree peonies, since those seem to be pretty expensive, and I don't know if I remember seeing any on their site. I tried to go through the online catalog and see which were the least expensive ones (and therefore probably more common) ones, or names I'd least heard of before, to try to guess which ones were most likely to come in a grab bag. I am interested in trying at tree peony at some time, but maybe next year...the Menard's (from another thread) in the town where I live doesn't have much of a garden center, but the one in the town where I work had a huge garden center, so maybe I will check there next year.

My home state is New Mexico. Actually, my home town in northern New Mexico gets plenty cold, but I went to college right down by the border in southern NM, so much of my adulthood was spent in really hot and arid conditions. Quite unlike central Illinois, where I live now (and probably will be from now until whenever I retire, which is decades away still). It just seems like every plant I covet is only hardy to zone 6, and I'm always thinking, "Darn! If I just lived a little closer to St. Louis..."

I chose the name GlassMouse because I love rodents (have 10 pet rodents right now), and I make stained glass art (not very well, I'm afraid). But "GlassHamster" or "GlassGerbil" didn't sound as good...One of my garden beds is all rodent-themed. I just planted a rock garden peony called "Squeak" that I got from Klehm's Song Sparrow in that one--

    Bookmark   October 16, 2005 at 5:25PM
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Glassmouse, even in central Illinois you can create microclimes that you can grow things that are not generally hardy in your zone. By the time you retire the way the climate is changing you may be in zone 8. My stepdaughter and her companion live in northern NM and I so much enjoy visiting. They live between Santa Fe and Taos. Do you know what if any peonies are found in that area. If your parents are still active could you ask them. Please.

Since you can't post with out changing something.

To Irish Rose Grower Little Kim is a Korean lilac and though it has nice blooms it will never smell the way you want it to. It does bloom in the summer which is a great plus. At one time had a link to a lilac grower in Canada. They listed some of the nicest descriptions I have seen. You could almost smell the blooms. We don't have the problem with lilac borers that we used to but I don't have room for the lilacs and peonies I would like. The one that caught my eye on that site was for a lilac tree that was I think 30 ft tall. Imagine that in bloom???

    Bookmark   October 16, 2005 at 5:53PM
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glassmouse(z5-Cent IL)

I'm from the very same area where your stepdaughter is living (San Miguel county, over Gallegos Pass). I don't remember ever seeing any peonies, since they were quite new to me the first year I was in the midwest. My folks retired to southern New Mexico and are unable to identify anything other than a cactus (they are big fans of the "cover your yard with lava rock!" school of thought), so they wouldn't be of much help asking about peonies in northern NM. But, as I said, I don't remember seeing any (although the winters are certainly cold enough, so you'd think peonies would be possible). A good place to ask might be High Country Gardens--the owner (Dave) is pretty knowledgable about what can be grown in the mountainous SW--

Here is a link that might be useful: High Country Gardens

    Bookmark   October 17, 2005 at 9:48AM
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Mozart2(Zone 5 Michigan)

Glass Mouse:

Just thought I'd say hello and offer some suggestions.

First of all, welcome to the Land of the Tallgrass Prairie; (Central) Illinois - Peoria - was my home for decades and I often miss the wide open prairie!

Since you're a (relative) newcomer to central Illinois, I would highly recommend the reading of John Madson's book: "Where the Sky Began: Land of the Tallgrass Prairie". Not only will it introduce you top the prairie state, it will also introduce you to the soil and weather conditions that you have already encountered. I can't remember the name of the chapter on "soils", but it is an excellent survey of the wonderful prairie loam that you might be fortunate enough to garden in. The chapter entitled "The Great Weathers" will further introduce you to the heat and humidity of the prairie state along with the sometimes bitter windy chilling cold of Illinois winters.

If you read between the lines, this wondrous book will convince you to plant your rootstock material in the fall.

If you go to your local library, I'd suggest that you attempt to get one of the early editions of this book - i.e. the Sierra Club edition, for example. Why? Because in the back of the book there is an appendix listing many of the prairie sites in the midwest, including several in central Illinois.

One of the sites listed is a prairie area just a few miles south of Victoria, IL - a small town located east of Galesburg. No specific directions are given by the author, but I easily found it and explored the area with some fellow gardeners some years back, who were interested in using some prairie plants in their garden.

One such plant - the yellow coneflower - provides a nice touch of yellow in the late summer and early fall and will tolerate a bit of shade.

This prairie are was or still is maintained by Knox College in Galesburg. There were very faded "No Trespassing" signs laying around the entrance and I readily ignored them. ;>)

Just west of this prairie site is a old prairie cemetary which is - in part - also maintained by Knox College. Years ago, my daughter, Heather, and I "borrowed" a few tiger lilies - of course, we placed some dry 12 12 12 fertilizer and watered the mother plant very well in the course of our "borrowing".

The current edition - printed by Iowa State University Press - I believe - doesn't list all of the prairie sites that were in the early editions. Thus the advantages of reading an early edition.

The second highly recommended book is Eleanor Perenyi's "Green Thoughts: A Writer in the Garden". Read the chapter on "Failure" and "Pruning" and you'll understand why this book is a treasure and a joy to read!!!

A third recommended book is "The Fragrant Year" by Helen van Pelt Wilson and Leonie Bell. Unfortunately, it is out of print, but this book can be found at your local library and/or through two excellent sources of new and used books:


Either site will link you to hundreds of used and new booksellers.

If you're actually living in central Illinois - i.e. Peoria, you should have "discovered" Hoerr's Nursery one of the best places to find a wide variety of plant materials, tools, landscaping materials, etc.

An equally excellent source - especially for bulbs at this time of year - is Kelly's Seed and Hardware in downtown Peoria - near the Caterpillar Headquarters.

If you haven't been there - as yet - you will need to plan a two day trip to the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis - in my mind and experience it is the best botanical garden in the midwest.

Their website is:

One of the delights of exploring this garden by computer is their plantfinder section. Listed below are several direct links to this excellent source of information, etc.

This link will link you to their alpha list of plants:

This link will give you an idea of what kind of information that you will find there.

Specifically and by way of example, this link will take you to their information on:

Paeonia lactiflora 'Duchesse de Nemours'

While I considered adding the above Peony to my garden, I finally opted for "Florence Nicholls", which I found at this company "A & D Nursery"

Once you link to this company, scroll down until you find "Florence" and then link to her photograph. Beautiful in my mind.

The link below will take you to their information on Phlox paniculata 'Mount Fuji', which I have planted in my garden this fall. Two plants have been planted just in back of and in between "Chestine Gowdy" and "Philippe Rivoire" - both of which will be found at A & D Nursery.

I highly recommend the use of their "search" section will is located to the right of the link to the alphabetical listing of plants.

This service contains information on the over 3500 herbaceous perennials, shrubs, vines and trees which are currently growing or have been grown in the 23 demonstration gardens at the Missouri Botanical Garden's Kemper Center for Home Gardening.

Additional information on each of these plants is available at the Center in a searchable database called the "PlantFinder". This additional information includes:

Bloom time based on bloom data collected at the Garden.
Special features of each plant, e.g., colorful fruit, winter interest, fragrant flowers.

Uses for the plant, e.g., spreading ground cover, good hedge plant, attracts birds or butterflies.

Through the "PlantFinder" you can print lists of plants that meet specific criteria such as herbaceous plants with yellow flowers that are under 3 feet tall and grow well in part shade.

The main web page to this garden is

And if you wish to take a virtual tour, here's the link:

The largest Japanese Garden located in the continental US is at the Missouri Botanical Garden along with a Chinese Garden; two rose gardens, an English woodland garden, sculpture and fountains hither and yon and more surpises and other garden areas than you can possibly imagine.

If you're interested in viewing, experiencing, etc. trees, shrubs and all kinds of flowering plants in bloom, during the fall, in the winter, etc., you'll also have to visit the equally wonderful "Morton Arboretum" in Lisle, Illinois. The Arboretum is over 1600 acres, has an absolutely wonderful horiticultural library, an excellent visitor center complete with restaurant, gift shop, and resource center. Lisle, Illinois is located west of Chicago.

Here's their main web page:

Here's a map of the place:

And here's the link to their visitor's center, etc.

If you're not too far from Springfield, IL - you should take in the Dana-Thomas House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1905 and the Rees Carillon at Washington Park, which is the site of the International Carillon Festival sometime in June - the only one of its kind in the world. Of course, you call also say hello to Honest Abe at his home in Springfield and at New Salem.

Just west of Peoria is the Spooon River of the "Spoon River Anthology" fame - by Edgar Lee Masters. His home is located in Elmwood, IL - about 20+ miles west of Peoria. The town square is lovely and you'll find a wonderful statue designed by Loredo Taft, who also has some of his work at the Art Institute of Chicago - the Great Lakes Fountain is one such piece.

Well, I do believe that this is more information than you thought possible - or possibly wanted, but I do hope that you will become to enjoy your stay in central Illinois.

Welcome to the land of the tallgrass prairie - it is truly a wonderful place to garden and enjoy life!!

Best wishes in your gardening endeavors.


William Harrison, Librarian

    Bookmark   October 18, 2005 at 11:49PM
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Mozart2(Zone 5 Michigan)

Glass Mouse:

Since it was very late when I posted my previous message, I wasn't able to post a second - the Alma College Library was closing and I had just remembered an important book on Peonies.

So here is some information on the recommended Peony book:

I recommend that you obtain a copy of "Peonies" by Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall. You will find copies of this book at or through your local public library or through their inter-library loan system.

The book, "Peonies" provides an excellent history, overview, and an good discussion of an extremely wide variety of different types of peonies with various lists - including those suitable for cut flowers, fragrance, etc.

Information from about this book:

"Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall's Peonies is a ravishing book--the sort of book that you covet from the moment you see it--but it isn't just lovely to look at, it is also a wonderful read. It tells the long and fascinating history of this most beautiful of flowers, tracing its origins in the wild to its cultivation in the Imperial gardens of China and Japan and its journey to the West. The characters encountered along the way include an empress who arranged for the planting of many thousands of tree peonies, yet murdered her baby daughter and in her 70s took two brothers half her age as lovers, and a French missionary who spent most of his life in China collecting over 1,500 species of peony, most of which were sent back to France. As befits its subject, the book is lavishly illustrated with paintings and photographs that are both informative and appealing.

But this is not just a wonderful story well told. It is also a serious work of reference giving comprehensive information on peony varieties, how to grow them, where to find them, and where to see them. It's written with the international reader in mind, so references include information relevant to the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand as well as Great Britain and Europe. --Stephanie Donaldson"

An customer gives the following review of this book:

"If you are a peony lover, you will treasure this book. Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall not only knows her peonies and traces their fascinating history through the imperial courts of China and Japan, but she interweaves this with a history of how peonies have been used in paintings and porcelain. The beautiful pictures included not only show the various peony cultivars, but show the peony as it is used in Asian porcelains, paintings and European paintings. This book and its photographs are so lovely, that I expected to pay much more for it. It's a bargain, if you are a peony lover. Al Rogers "Peonies" is a bit more explicit about growing and cultivation, but this book compliments his, because of the romance it brings to the peony. It is also practical, listing the cultivars, showing many pictures, and recommending the more successful cultivars. If you love peonies and want to know more about their place in history, I heartily recommend Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall's "Peonies." "

Ditto and I've had it in my library for over a year.

Hope you and others find this information more than useful!!!

Best regards!!!


    Bookmark   October 19, 2005 at 8:58PM
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glassmouse(z5-Cent IL)

Thank you so much for all the information and the excellent book suggestions! Now I have a list of reading material for my Christmas break--

Funny that you should mention Peoria. I work in B-N and had Hoerr's Nursery on my list of nurseries I needed to visit. I've avoided it so far because I think Peoria is having a lot of road work done right now, and driving on War Memorial scares me at the best of times. But it may be worth dealing with the construction, anyway. Especially since central Illinois always has a lot of road construction, no matter what. (They've been working on the I-55 bypass around B-N since I moved here!)

I will also be sure to visit the botanical gardens in St. Louis. It's been on my list, but for some reason we haven't gone yet, although we have been to the botanical gardens in Chicago. We do get to St. Louis a couple of times a year, so I'll make sure we hit the gardens there in the spring.

Thank you again for taking the time to give me so much info on gardening in central Illinois. I never was much for even going outside in NM, probably because it was always so hot in Las Cruces. But when we bought our house in Illinois, the real estate agent insisted we look at the tiny garden in the backyard. I went out just to humor him, thinking, "Yeah, like I'll ever actually go into the yard," but the minute I saw the garden, I just knew instantly that we had to have _that_ house and that I had to become obsessed with gardening. And now the garden is 5X the original size.

Anyway, thanks again!

    Bookmark   October 20, 2005 at 11:40AM
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Mozart2(Zone 5 Michigan)


You're more than welcomed regarding the information, suggested garden visits, and good books to read.

Now for a "tid bit" ;>) of additional information:

1. I just purchased the Pro Gardening Auger System from the site noted in the link - after searching the forums and doing an extensive search for soil augers on the net. For various reasons, I believe that this is the best system for extensive uses in the garden. I am anxiously looking forward to its arrival and will immediately implement its use in planting my small selection of bulbs. Just thought you might enjoy reading about this most worthwhile tool.

2. Since you mentioned the possibility of visiting St. Louis several times in the course of the year, you ought to be aware of the fact that the MBO has a very wonderful Japanese Festival each year around the Labor Day weekend. My daughter, Heather, and I went down with members of the Peoria Garden Club several decades ago and have gone back several times over the subsequent years. One of the special events that we particularly enjoyed from the start of our first visit was the "Taiko Drummers". At that time, this group of drummers was from San Francisco; the beating of their huge drums made your mind, body, and soul throb.

While you're in the neighborhood, you might also wish to spend some time at The Butterfly House, which is a division of the MBO.

Here's the link to their web site and I'll let you go exploring. Definitely, a must see when you're in the St. Louis area.

2. At this time of year, you ought to take some time to travel northward to Starved Rock State Park located less than 1.5 hours north of Peoria and spend a day or the weekend there. The Lodge offers housing either on "campus" (in the Lodge) or "off" - small private log cabins to the southern eastern edge of the main Lodge. They are within a very short waking distance. Inside the Lodge is a huge open area, a grand fireplace, many chairs, etc., and a wonderful dining area. In addition, there is a back open area that overlooks Starved Rock and the Illinois River - Drinks, lunch, diner, and snacks are served in this large patio area. Several other amenities await you and yours on the inside of the Lodge.

Within this state park are approximately six or seven canyons, hiking trails, waterfalls, woodland flowers, and, of course, at this time of year - beautiful fall colors. "Illinois Canyon" is one of my favorite hiking, photographing, etc. haunts.

Everyone has the impression that Illinois is just flat or rolling prairie, but this state park will astound you with its unique variety of geological, etc. experiences.

Across the river from the park is the small town of Ithaca. Within the town is a very nice bar/restaurant serving good food at moderately inexpensive prices. Before you reach the town, there is a road heading east which will take you to one of the lock and dams on the Illinois River; it's almost across the way from Starved Rock. It is still open to the public and, IMHO, watching the "tows" and barges locking through is a relaxing event. There is a nice display and small gift shop within the building.

Speaking of geology, Illinois is one of the few states or perhaps the only state in the union to offer (four times a year) Geological Field Trips. Contact the Illinois State Geological Survey web site for more information. Great experience for both young and old.

3. If you're into "Herbs", you might also wish to check out and/or join "The Herb Guild" which meets on a monthly basis the Glen Oak Park. I was one of the early - but not charter members - and served as it's President for a period of 3.5 years. When I was serving in this capacity, the members of the Herb Guild actively participated in the Olde English Faire - held during the 2nd or 3rd week in June and in the Harvest Feste sometime around this time of year.

A few members of the Guild were bakers and I concocted a wonderful Bock Beer Sourdough Bread recipe and baked the bread in a stone hearth oven located in Jubilee College State Park - about 20 miles west of Peoria offer I-74. It was served with a special 1/2 butter and philadelphia cream cheese, etc. spread that I also created. I have many fond memories of this group, my experiences with the members and in baking bread for two days straight while dressed up in medieval costume.

4. A few hours drive north of Peoria will put you near the town of Oregon, IL, which is located on the banks of the Rock River. Across the river is a small city park which is very beautiful and a good site for a picnic lunch. Just north of that side of the Rock River is Lowden State Park, which is also the site of the (Chief) Blackhawk statue designed and executed by Loredo Taft. The pulic library has a collection of model sculptures, etc. done by Loredo Taft, who used to have an artist colony on the grounds of Lowden State Park. The buildings are now being used by Northern Illinois University.

West of Oregon is White Pines State Park which also has a CCC built Lodge with individual cabins, a gift shop, and a very nice dining room. Although this state park is not as scrumptous at Starved Rock, it is an excellent place to enjoy, hike around, stay overnight, enjoy a meal, etc.

In the "neighborhood," is the small town of "Grand Detour" - named after the grand detour that the Rock River takes on its journey to the Mississippi River. It was here that John Deere invented his special plow that successfully broke the soil of the tallgrass praire. The John Deere Company has restored his home, the blacksmith shop and has planted a small prairie plot on the grounds. Obviously, it is also worth a day's visit.

5. Located just below the cities of Bloomington/Normal is the small town of Shirley, IL - less than 10 miles south on I-55. Located within a few miles southwest of this small town is "Funk's Grove". Funk's Grove was "founded" by members of the Funk and Stubblefield families. This lovely quiet place - open to the public - contains a small church; an outdoor worship area, a small cemetary, several wonderful trails, a picnic area and a prairie area maintained by the Illinois Dept. of Conservation - which also has some trails. The place is shaded by huge walnut trees and other varieties that were left as a legacy by these two families. Wonderful place to experience wildflowers in the spring. However, if you hike the area, you might wish to wear light, long sleeved clothing - there's "Stinging Nettle" about in various places. It doesn't really "sting", but it can make your skin itch a bit. A wonderful place to photograph especially if you're into wildflower, woodsy, landscape or macro photography. Very nice place to have a picnic and relax, read, or hike. I believe that the small church still conducts services and many weddings take place within.

Well, I believe that this is - again - more information than you really wanted or needed - ;>) - besides, I am making myself a little envious and homesick. Despite the heat and humidity of Illinois during the summer months, I really enjoy and often miss the wide openness of the tallgrass prairie. Like the title of John Madson's book, this is truly the place "Where the Sky Began".

Again, my best wishes in your new endeavors.


Here is a link that might be useful: Pro Gardening Auger Systerm

    Bookmark   October 20, 2005 at 8:04PM
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irish_rose_grower(z7 LI NY)

HI. How are you? I don't have your e-mail handy. Please send me your e-mail address.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2005 at 9:45AM
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