Four years ago I took stock of our land and found the perfect spot for some peonies. It had good fertile soil, afternoon shade from the big oak tree, and was centrally located to be a beautiful focal point on our farm. So we set our pigs to work clearing the land- this took no time at all because pigs are very quick at plowing. Then I gave the plot a shallow till, hand-built over 400 feet of raised beds, hauled in tons of compost, and then sowed a cover crop to hold the soil until fall planting.
Fall came and I took a weed eater to the cover crop. Our peonies arrived in October along with a sweet treat from our supplier. I planted and then I waited. All winter I stared at a patch of dirt. Finally in early spring, green shoots began to push through and pretty soon the field was awash with green. The weeds got a little out of control but we vowed to do better next year. In fall of 2017 we doubled our planting and then we waited again…
Then winter 2018 came.
The rains began in February and came and came. Little did we know they wouldn’t stop for over a year. The field flooded for the first of 6 times that year. Our field was underwater by about a foot for several hours. All our beautiful compost was carried off never to be seen again. We had a river 20’ wide and 2 feet deep flowing through our field. I’ll admit I kinda freaked out. I pulled out a pump as soon as it was safe and began removing water as fast as I could. But that first flood was just the beginning.
We had 5 more torrential downpours that flooded the field for more than several hours at a time causing the peonies to sit in wet soil for days at a time until it dried out. The flood waters also brought every weed seed for a 10 mile radius (ok maybe I’m exagerating but that’s how it felt - and looked!). We weeded and mulched twice in the spring of 2018 and twice it flooded shortly after and carried off all the mulch. By fall of 2018, I was pretty discouraged about our little peony field. It took a few hours with a weedeater to knock back all the weeds. As I was going through, I kept seeing empty holes where peonies should have been.
So in late fall of 2018, we had a company come in and fix our drainage issues that contributed to the flooding. We put in a road and a few catchment ponds to catch and re-direct run off. But all winter, I wondered what I would see come spring. I feared the worst; I really thought that I had lost around 40-50% of my original planting.
But as the weather warmed and spring came, sprout after sprout began to push it’s way up through that heavy clay soil. Even in the areas with the worst flooding and washout, there are still plants! I definitely lost about 15-20% which is significant when you think about how long of an investment in time you have until harvest of a peony. But I have been absolutely amazed at how many plants are still there and even more so by how many are producing flowers!
But wait— it doesn’t end there. About 10 days into our first year of harvesting, our shade shelter was picked up by 20+ MPH wind gusts and dumped onto our peony field! I’ll admit I kinda freaked out, called my husband to come for help and he thought someone had died! We had to completely dismantle the shelter to move it. I got lucky in that 2/3 of the area where it had landed, I had already harvest 90% of the stems out of that area.
So this Mother’s Day, I am thrilled to have some peonies to share with you. Theses peonies have seen it all. They are strong, resilient, yet tender and sweet smelling kinda like mom. We are mixing our peonies into bouquets of our farm fresh goodness!
We have two specialty bouquets and a seasonal mixed bouquet. Our grand deluxe bouquet is called Ethereal Beauty. She has peonies, garden roses, sweet peas, and snapdragons or campanula. She’s made up of the most luxurious flowers we grow.
We also have a Pink Lady Peony bouquet that includes our two favorite pinks: Nymphe and Monsieur Jules Elle.
Our seasonal bouquets include a mix of peonies, sweet peas, campanula, snapdragons, ranunculus, and many other beauties. This bouquet comes in two sizes.
These bouquets are only available for farm pick up on Saturday, May 11 from 10-12pm. Bouquets must be ordered in advance. There are a very limited number of the Ethereal Beauty and Pink Lady Peony Bouquets so don’t wait!
Can’t make it to the farm? We will also have bouquets available at the Boco Art Show, Wed-Friday located at 2 Meyers Dr, Greenville- doors open at 9am. Also Tandem Creperie and Coffeehouse will have petite bouquets available Thursday through Sunday. If you live in the Greer/Taylors area you can find our flowers at Urban Petals Lifestyle Boutique. They have online ordering available here.