A couple of years ago, I heard Graham speaking about a new peony variety that was more suitable for the warmer climates such as Sydney. These peonies were called Itoh peonies and available from Van Diemen Bulbs (VDB) in Tasmania. As I had had good success growing tulips in Sydney, I decided to give the Itohs a go and contacted VDB. I ordered two Itoh peonies and planted them in the garden as I was told they didn't do well in pots. I was also informed that they can often take a couple of years to establish but I may get the odd flower in the first year.
Feeling quite optimistic, I went out each night for 10 nights and placed iced blocks around the two Itohs. I was delighted when I saw the first shoots appear through the soil. Unfortunately, one of them was dug up by a visiting bush turkey who broke off the shoots. The other Itoh grew well, but no sign of flowers.
This year, I decided to buy another one and give it a go. I contacted VDB again and ordered ‘Berry Garcia’. When it arrived, I decided to plant it in a pot to and see how it would go. Once it started to shoot, I again went out for 10 nights and placed a handful of ice blocks around it and continued to keep a close eye on it. After six weeks, I discovered a couple of buds forming. From this time onwards, I became very protective. During the wet, windy weather last week, I even moved the pot into a more protected spot so shoots wouldn’t break. After all my efforts, today, I was rewarded with the most magnificent berry-coloured flower. A second bud has yet to open. Even if these are the only flowers I get this year, it has certainly encouraged me to possibly get some more in the future. My original two are only just starting to shoot through the ground but I am also hopeful that they may flower this year as well. With all the doom and gloom around at the moment, just a small thing like a beautiful flower can really help lift your spirits. Thank goodness for the garden.
Rosanne, West Pymble, NSW