Situated in the quaint little town of Ashland, in Southern Oregon, sits a little farm where Jon and Ginnie Deason grow (what some believe to be) the most beautiful flowers in the world – peonies.
Known to thrive for over 50 plus years, peonies are “the fattest and most scrumptious of all flowers, a rare fusion of fluff and majesty…” said Henry Mitchell, an American writer (1923-93) and truly, he knew what he was talking about.
Having been labeled as ‘outrageously beautiful’, ‘sumptuous’, ‘breath-taking’, ‘striking’, and ‘impressive’, peonies are a gardener’s favorite. Easy to grow but “requiring a lot of patience” (according to grower Ginnie Deason), the peony is one flower every garden should not be without.
Ginnie grew up in the midwest, where her family grew peonies – one of their favorite flowers – so deciding to grow peonies on two of their twelve acres in the outskirts of Ashland seemed like a natural fit. They now sell plants and tubers at local farmer’s markets and on the internet.
Ginnie’s “favorite” peony changes from year to year, one of this year’s favorites being “Blaze“, a ‘reliable performer with bright red blooms, with flowers that are perfect for cutting.’
As I stand at the Deason’s stand at the local Farmer’s Market in Medford, I am once again taken aback at just how beautiful these flowers really are. No matter if they are fluffy like a fat, down pillow or donning only six petals, the beauty of each one leaves you speechless.
Jon and Ginnie sell fresh tubers, as Ginnie says they are the best way to go for growing a strong, healthy plant.
“Buying them in the stores, they have usually been frozen at least a year, if not more” Ginnie says, making their quality inferior to those found at a peony farm like the Deason’s. When you compare one of the Deason’s peony tubers to that of one purchased at a local retail store, well… there is no comparison (speaking from personal experience). Once you have seen a fresh, plump, healthy tuber and hold it up alongside one that has been frozen, the quality cannot be matched. And – if you want quality flowers, you’ve got to start with a quality root/tuberous system.
Peonies that arrive as a tuber will usually take 2-3 years to bloom, where if you were to buy a peony already established in a pot and ready to take home to plant, you’ve gained 1-2 years of having to wait for that first beautiful bloom.
There are three types of peonies and the Deason’s sell approximately 25 varieties a year, some from each category-
- Tree peonies: The foliage on the tree peony stays green year round and begins to get new growth in spring, having taken a rest in the fall and on through winter. Tree peonies take a tad bit more care in that the spring frost can bite the buds, thereby reducing its glorious blooms.
- Herbaceous peonies: soft-stemmed, the herbaceous peony‘s foliage dies down in the fall and re-emerges in springtime.
- ITOH Peonies have advantages over the other peonies in that: the stems are stronger and can hold its flower upright. At maturity, they are known for having up to 50 blooms on one plant. Although the ITOH peonies have foliage and blooms like a tree peony, the must be cut back in the fall.
Often confused with the planting techniques of a bulb, tubers differ in that they should not be buried too deep. One to two inches is the suggested depth. Ginnie says that if the tuber is buried to deep, the plant will be weak and not produce blooms and if buried too shallow, buds will not form. Potted peonies are planted right away or left to potted, ready to plant in the fall.
Rather easy to care for, peonies offer a elegant show of beauty each spring, plants growing in size and blooms growing in number as the years go by.
As I stand and watch the Deasons sell single to armfuls of blooms and pots of healthy plants, they do it with joy and smiling faces. Selling a peony must feel like you’re decorating the world with heavenly beauty.
“I hope some day to meet God, because I want to thank Him for the flowers.” ~Robert Brault
My favorite? Coral Charm. But like Ginnie, my favorites change – to whatever I happen to be looking at at that moment.