Monday, June 1st, 2009...3:29 pm

Cricket Hill Garden and Peony Heaven an Outstanding Peony Nursery

Spring River Flowers Moon Night

The river is smooth and calm this evening.
The peony flowers bloom.
The moon floats on the current.
The tide carries the stars.

by Ch’ien Ch’i (date unknown) Sent to me by David Furman

TheGardenLady’s herbaceous peonies (these are the typical peonies most people grow) are just opening but her tree peonies which are woody or shrublike, that are still relatively young, have no buds nor flowers. I learned that tree peonies can take 3 or more years to start flowering- some as long as 8 years to start flowering. But then the plant can live for at least 100 years-tree peonies have been documented to have lived as long as 400 years.

Peonies -Paeonia are one of the oldest cultivated flowers in the world, being mentioned in early Chinese writings 2800 years ago. They are China’s National Flower. Then they were taken to Japan where they started to be raised about 1000 years ago. And in the 1700’s English botanical explorers in China first saw the “tree” peonies and brought them to England.

TheGardenLady loves to tell her readers of excellent nurseries. What designates an excellent nursery for TheGardenLady? The nursery owners have to be PASSIONATE about their flowers. They have to be knowledgeable about their plants and willing to share that knowledge and help people who are interested in the flowers the nursery sells. And the nursery has to sell an extensive number of quality plants. Having a show garden is an added bonus. To this end, TheGardenLady wants to tell her readers about Cricket Hill Garden in Thomaston, Ct.

The owners are David and Kasha Furman who have been raising peonies for over 20 years. Not only have they grown and tested more than 300 peony cultivars (a cultivar is a cultivated variety) but they have been working with advanced peony hybrids for ten years and have seen some exciting results. They sell Chinese Tree peonies and Japanese Tree Peonies, Rockii Tree Peonies and American Tree Peonies. They sell Herbaceous Peonies. And they sell Intersectional Peonies which are hybrids of tree and herbacious peonies. They sell hybrids and species peonies- which are the wild types. They also sell everything needed for the peony grower. For example, they sell a soil amendment that consists of 67 minerals beneficial to rebuilding deficient soils.  (This product can be used for all plants including vegetables and fruit trees.) From all their gloriously gorgeous peonies the Furmans have created what they call Peony Heaven which is a 7 acre show garden. This garden is open all week from 10am to 4pm and admission is free. In fact, this is the time to visit because this is their Peony Festival time which runs until June 14th.

If peonies are your love, Cricket Hill Garden may be the best peony nursery in the United States. And if you are eager to learn about peonies, Cricket Hill Garden is for you. Peonies, according to the Furmans, are not difficult to grow if you start with the best quality plants and the knowledge of their growing requirments. Peonies will live longer than the gardeners who plant them. TheGardenLady has some herbacious peonies from her parents farm that are at least 70 years old.

“After proper planting, tree peonies reuire little care; aside from weeding, periodic feeding, and fall clean up of leaves. ” Isn’t that the kind of flower one wants raise in one’s garden? TheGardenLady has never known anyone to have problems with their peonies, but like all living things, one might have some problems. However, if you follow the instructions given by the Furmans on their website or in person, you will be delighted with a lifetime of gorgeous peonies. So if you are like TheGardenLady, you will want to buy more peonies to create your own stunning peony garden.

This column is to let you know of this wonderful peony nursery, Cricket Hill Garden nursery, not to give advice. But TheGardenlady wants to pass along a few of the things from Mr. Furman about growing peonies. One problem I have had with herbacious peonies is that they always seem to bloom when it rains so that the heavy flowers are knocked down and look so sad. To keep them upright Mr Furman told me of a cheap clever way to prevent this from happening. Buy chicken wire with the 2 inch big holes and cut it in 3ft by 3 ft sections. In the fall when you cut back the stems, lay the piece of chicken wire on top. In the spring, when the shoots come up, they will grow in each hole. As the plant grows tall, pull up the chicken wire. When the flowers open one won’t see the wire but the wire will hold up the flowers. (Do NOT cut the woody stems on tree peonies.Their woody stems hold the flowers up.)

Peonies need lots of sun to flower. But when the peonies are in bloom, the sun and rain will fade their color so that the flowers will only last 3 or 4 days. To prolong the flower’s bloom, they need shade. So Cricket Hill Garden sells lovely handpainted and waterproof garden umbrellas to protect peonies and other blooms from rain and excess sun.

Check out the Cricket Hill Garden site. And if you have the time, join the Peony Festival that is going on until June 14th.

Fancy Bloomers Peony Party II- June 5th to June 7th

Japanese tree peonies, late Chinese, American tree peonies, herbaceous
and intersectional peonies- all bloomin’ their heads off for you.

Grand Finale Peony Herbaceous – June 12 to the 14th

The late bloomers send us off into summer.

Saturday June 13th- Connecticut Open House Day

Plant specials, garden talks, free lemonade and cookies.

A final Chinese peony poem entitled:

Visit to the Hermit Ts’ui

Moss covered paths between scarlet peonies,
Pale jade mountains fill your rustic windows.
I envy you, drunk with flowers;
Butterflies swirling in your dreams.
(Translated by John Marney-sent to me by David Furman)

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