While I was holed up in the house lamenting three days of cold and rain, the peonies grew - and I mean a lot! This afternoon I had to go digging in the garden shed for the hoops to get them supported before it was too late. Don't think I broke any; I was very careful and I even pinched out a few double buds. I've never actually done that before, altho I know you should if you want larger blooms. I've noticed that the side blooms are never as nice anyway and frequently they don't even bloom, so I thought I might as well spend a couple minutes pinching in hopes of a nicer display this spring.
I have a small stand of peonies in the back next to the path. The first one came from my aunt's garden after her death, so it is special. Unfortunately, it's not particularly pretty - a pale, pale pink - nearly white and I would like it better with more color. It means a lot, tho, since it was "family". I bought a variety of small, end-of-the-season sale plants two falls ago and they make up the rest of the bed. Most have not bloomed yet, so it will be interesting to see what I get this year - both in terms of color and time of bloom. I had them scattered all over the garden, but transplanted them all to one bed to maximize their bloom. You can see them in this photo, just beyond the glider.
The only reason that I noticed the peonies today was that I was working on Project #5 - the sitting area. After all the rain, it was sunny and much warmer today, but the ground is so wet that I didn't want to even try to work out there. Instead I made my first real trip to the garden center to look at pavers for the sitting area. "Look at" being synonymous with "buy", I came home with 10 pavers - and a few posies. My plan is to use the large pavers in the path as the starting point of the sitting area. I have some more of those stones, so will try to add one to the path to make a solid stretch of walk and then use the new brick pavers, plus the old brick and slate pavers I already have. Don't really have a plan; will just start laying them and see what happens.
You did want to know what flowers I brought home today, didn't you? First, I picked up a couple of bright pink dianthus to add to some boxes on the deck. The old dianthus are looking pretty ragged and can use the help. Also, two sweet basils for the herb barrel. Then the treasures: a lovely blue columbine - Aquileiga vulgaris 'Clemintine Blue' - that I will use as an accent in the purple river; an interesting Jacob's Ladder - Polemonium yezoense 'Purple Rain Strain' - that has small blossoms and dark (purple) leaves and stems in the colder months that will apparently turn more green as the weather heats up; and a beautiful bright yellow Iceland Poppy 'Champagne Bubbles'. It is much to bright for me - usually - but it will be gorgeous nestled down on the edge of the river with all the blues and purples. I have wanted a poppy for a while, and hope I can make this one live!!
So, I will try to finish the sitting area tomorrow or over the weekend. In the meantime, enjoy your garden, too.