Fruits of our Labor

Good morning, my friends. It was the usual busy day here at the Three Cats Ranch yesterday. My day started with watering the annuals, and then I took a little walk around the yard. Also, I have some information to share with you about the cruel Rosy Prospects peony. I'll tell you in just a minute, but let's check-in and see what's growing on in the garden.

First, I'm really quite taken with these blueberries. You can see the little berries forming, but aren't the flowers so pretty and colorful?

It looks as if we'll get just a handful of berries again this year. Only two of the four plants bloomed. I'm just happy they survived the winter, so no complaints.

The cherries are coming on. These are from the Bing. I'm realizing a lot of the flowers didn't get pollinated, however. In the image below, you can see the two green cherries. Between them is a small brown "seed." My understanding is that those are flowers that were not pollinated, and there are plenty of those on both trees. 

It isn't surprising since the trees bloomed at a time of unsettled weather. Sunny one day, pouring rain the next. It was also rather cold for the time of year, and so there was very little insect activity.

On the other hand, the apple tree bloomed at a better time, and it is going to be loaded with apples. Here's one little one.

Here's another. And there are plenty more.

I took a little walk around the vegetable garden. There are several places where sunflowers are coming up in bunches. I didn't plant them like this. I've hoed most of them down, but there are a few patches that won't get in the way of anything, and so I've left those. 

I can only think one of the sunflowers from a previous year bent its head over and dumped its seeds right here. It could also be squirrel activity, but our fencing mostly keeps them out of the vegetable garden. We've also added the vibrating gopher stakes, and I believe that deters them as well.

The bee garden is showing a little more color. We have these little flowers in yellow, white, and pink.

That's about the extent of it for now, but there are other little buds coming that are making me curious. What will they become?

Checking the peonies, I expect this one to be the first to bloom. There are a few that look just the same.

But let's just talk about the cruel peony for a minute. These are the pictures I showed you yesterday.

Pathetic, isn't it?

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I published these same pictures in a "Peony Lovers" group on Facebook and asked for input. It generated quite a bit of discussion. There were several answers that were interesting. First, I learned that Rosy Prospects is an "Itoh" peony (prounounced EAT-oh), meaning it is a hybrid of common herbaceous peonies and tree peonies, also known as an intersectional peony. 

Regarding the "Itoh" peonies, the Google told me this:
Although the foliage grows fairly quickly, these are relatively slow-maturing plants, and seedlings may require three or four years before they begin to bloom. However, potted nursery plants are usually at least two years old before they are sold, and a good healthy one-gallon nursery specimen may provide you with blooms in its first year. If you are buying mail-order bare roots, expect rather slow growth in the first year or two.

Mine are bare root, and so...okay...four years with no mature flowers isn't unheard of.

But I was more interested in this from Ovans Peony Farm:

I don't know what is happening here, but it makes me wonder if it's one of those plants from mass production that they are using tissue culture to mass produce instead of actual root division. I have heard some of these plants never act or bloom correctly. 

Another comment was this one from Therese, who is identified as a "group expert." She says:

I have long suspected something in a few Itohs is 'out of whack'; and, I too wonder about a connection to tissue culture. Prairie Charm (not tissue cultured) and Rosy Prospects (possible tissue cultured) have been the two prominently unreliable Itoh's for us. Rosy Prospects can be beautiful one year and look like heck several years in a row. I quit offering it for that reason. Other Itohs can have drastic changes to color hues (depending upon cloud cover or sun during bud formation/bloom). Many are consistent year to year. Those with petal irregularities, such as Rosy Prospects simply appear deformed.

Interestingly, someone asked me where I bought my peonies, and I identified the grower south of us as Adelman Peony Garden. In response, someone tagged Carol Adelman who is associated with Adelman Peony Garden. She responded with this:
Intersectional peonies are a cross between two species of peonies: bush peonies and woody peonies. Sometimes the cross is unstable and does strange things. Sometimes the following year it will return to normal.

And her response kind of got my hackles up because I'd already said in the feed that I'd visited their "farm" in person and asked for advice about my peony. I was told to contact them using the email link on their website...which I did...three times. My emails were ignored. In my third email I told them I was probably going to replace this peony, but that I'd be shopping elsewhere next time. (BTW, I'm told Swenson Gardens in Minnesota is a good place.) So, when I saw Carol's response, I responded with this:

Mine has never been normal in the four years it has been in the ground. If it doesn’t bloom this year, I will replace it. However, these are not inexpensive, and so I hate the idea of having paid for a bare root tuber from a grower I thought was reputable only to have it fail completely. I have tried multiple times to request advice or assistance from the grower, and my emails and in-person questions have been ignored. It’s very disappointing.

And that's where it stands today. She has not responded to my post. We'll see if anything else happens, and I'll be sure to keep you updated as the peony drama continues to unfold, both on Facebook and in the garden.

And just a final word on the peonies. Yesterday, I noticed this on one of the other plants: 

(Big sigh.) A small amount of foliage is involved as well. Maybe one of you knows better than I, but this looks like "thrips" to me. It's certainly some kind of insect, and so I sprayed it with some garden insecticide. I hope it doesn't get any worse.

Walking back to the house, I found Himself looking pretty put out that he wasn't invited along for this walk through the garden.

Mike got them out later. It's excellent dustbathing weather right now. Smitty is giving Sadie pointers on the best way to get full dust coverage.

It's like this, Sadie. You have to squiggle and wiggle and really get your back into it.

Back inside, I went to work on my collage piece. Sadie helped me with fabric selection.

I'm down to the third of three layers. I expect I'll finish this part today or tomorrow. After that, I'll be fusing it to a background, and then adding borders. Here's your peek at yesterday's progress.

I was doing laundry, and so there were lots of interruptions. I ended up working on it for an extra hour, and then I went to work sewing together the blocks for the Shop Hop 2.0 quilt. I was able to get the first two rows sewn together.

Smitty helped with that.

Today I'm hoping to get the rest of the blocks sewn together.

For my final act of the day, I walked down to the end of the driveway to see how the lunaria is doing. I found a better solution to the critter-chewing problem in the form of these wire baskets. They have a large gauge, and the plants should be able to grow right through them.

Now they're all covered. I'm afraid the second from the bottom of the image is toast. It was the first to be eaten by critters, and it doesn't seem to be coming back. I have some more seeds, I might go ahead and dump the lot of them into a hole here...or maybe I'll start some more in a little pot. (Please pardon me while I think and write at the same time.)

Okay, so Mike is feeling better from his tetanus shot. He barely ate anything for two days, but he was able to eat some dinner last night. He says he's up for his Sunday morning blueberry oatmeal pancakes, and so I guess it's time to go feed the old man. As for my day, of course there will be sewing. I need to hoe weeds in the garden, and I've assigned myself today to pick a bucket of weeds. They're mostly under control, but it'll give me something else to do outside.


Barbara said...

The hum of bees is the voice of the garden. ~ Elizabeth Lawrence

MissPat said...

Since you had ruled out a virus with the peony (one of my suggestion a year or two ago), I guess a genetic anomly is probably the more likely answer. With so many other beautiful varieties of peonies, I'd say you've given this one more than enough time. Consider it sunk costs and move on.

Katie said...

What a frustrating peony AGAIN this year. I had hoped so much for you that it would behave, but the responses you got from experts are interesting, if not terribly helpful. As for the grower, maybe she is new to the company? Doesn't excuse their lack of response, but might be why it happened now? (Though maybe it's just social media damage control...) Your swirled photos of the challenge have me intrigued, as always. I'm looking forward to the reveal. And I'm glad the tetanus shot drama is over. My last one wasn't so great either, but it beats the alternative!

piecefulwendy said...

Well, I had to go look at Swenson's Gardens, since I hadn't heard of them. So many varieties! I'm glad you are getting some help trying to identify what is going on, but would be frustrating that the grower isn't responding. Glad Mike is feeling better!

Brown Family said...

Too bad you are having problems with the grower/seller! THey should make it right. Nothing feels better than rolling in the dust, if you are a cat.

Lyndsey said...

I glad Mike is feeling better. Gracious me has 4 years really gone by since you prepared the bed for the peonies? Since you've given it 4 years of nurturing I think it's time to say enough is enough and get a replacement peony.

Kate said...

Glad that Mike is feeling better. Tetanus shots have never bothered me, but I'm probably due for one soon. My Guy got one last year when he fell on the bike and broke his face. It seems like your garden is a bunch of wins and few duds. Hopefully you've found some resolutions to some of the issue. Hope you were able to enjoy some good stitching time.

Magpie's Mumblings said...

And another chapter of Peony-gate unfolds! Interesting to read although not much in the way of helpful what to do tips.
So glad that Mike is on the mend and up for his special pancakes.
Thank you for sharing pictures of the blueberry flowers. I've never seem them in person.