Thursday, June 17, 2010

Just do it!

One of the hardest acts a gardener will ever do 
is to clip a bud before it blooms. 

Think about it.
And be honest.
Do you nip off the flower buds when you plant your annuals?

I'm actually quite dedicated to removing the flowers and buds 
from my newly planted annuals, 
simply because I've experienced the benefit so many times.

This Zinnia was clipped of all buds and flowers 
before planting just about two weeks ago.

 This simple act allows the plant to use it's energy to develop the roots.  
Stronger roots allow your annuals to grow full and beautiful much faster 
and you''ll be enjoying the blooms longer.
All because you were brave enough to use your clippers.
I know, it can be hard.
Just do it.

♦ ♦ ♦

As well as I know this principle, 
my foolish folly has kept me from enjoying 
a perennial that blooms only once in a year. 
If only I had clipped the buds.

Here's a lesson I learned from a Peony:

I absolutely adore Peonies! 

They are a relatively new plant in my perennial garden. I planted them several years ago, but they take a few years to reach their potential. That's a lot of patience. 

Last year my Baby Pink Peony Bush had several blooms.  This is a double Peony and the blooms were large and heavy, so heavy that their stems couldn't hold their weight and they bowed to the ground. This year, I anticipated the plant would be larger with even more blooms, so I took the time to stake the plant before the buds appeared. I was quite proud of my decision and pleased that I actually acted on the idea before it was too late. 
Not much later the plant began to develop buds, lots of them! 

To say I was excited about the prospect of having so many blooms would be an understatement.  I was giddy with delight!  I've waited many years to grow Peonies. I anticipated a premium crop.

And then it happened... buds began to open, sometimes five blossoms on a single stem! My excitement grew at the thought of how beautiful my perennial garden was about to become. As soon as the snow and rain stopped, (remember the Spring Snow Storm we had on May 25?) and the sun began to shine, my Peonies began to bloom and bloom and bloom!   

But instead of delight I felt frustration. 

 The blossoms were so heavy they doubled over and brushed the ground.  
I'm actually holding this heavy stem up to take the picture.
Count them! There are five on one stem!

There were far too many blossoms on those stems even with the stakes to hold up their beautiful heads. It's only in looking back that I see my folly and realize the opportunity lost. The peonies are now past their prime and never really reached the measure of their creation. The peonies hid their faces brushing the ground.

I was so excited to enjoy every bloom 
that I couldn't make myself do the "hard thing" 
and clip those extra buds. 
What a difference it would have made in my garden.

Several times a week I drive past a field of Peonies, there must be a hundred plants.  I slowed down and looked carefully at the blooms.  One blossom per stem. A beautiful display. Silly me. Surely this garden has a gardener who understands the power of the clipper and isn't afraid to use it. I'll do better next year.

Enjoy these pictures of my other Peony varieties. 
Their blooms were much smaller and didn't even need to be staked... this year.


  1. If I could grow peonies this far south, I wouldn't be able to clip them either.

  2. some wise thoughts here...i love the photo of the white paeony especially...

  3. What sage advice, though I agree, it is hard to nip those buds. :) I'm fierce when I deadhead, too!

  4. I very much enjoyed my visit to your blog. The idea of clipping side peony buds is a new one for me. I'll take a closer look next year at how they appear. I have done the deed with annuals and agree, plants need some time to get their root system going. Plus thinning fruit can be hard and worthwhile also (but wait til the June drop for tree fruits like apples).

  5. We have to be strong, Carolyn, and cut even when our hearts are crying a little. I feel exactly this way about thinning my seedlings, which I need to do with the okra this weekend. Last week I thinned the last of the beans and cucumbers, and looking at the pile of dead plants on the ground made me feel a bit like a murderess!

    Your peonies are so full of sweetness and gentleness and light. I am glad they have such a garden-mother. :)

  6. I've never heard of this. I know deadheading helps to rebloom. But it makes sense. I wonder if I ought to do more of that?

  7. Thank you for you sweet comments!

    Wicked Gardener, but you have so many glorious blooms that I can't grow. :)

    Hazel Tree, the white is my favorite, too!

    Nancy, I agree about the deadheading, it's one of the secret's of my beautiful gardens.

    Sara, so glad you enjoyed your visit, do come again!

    Meredith, I always enjoy your perspective and your sweet comments! I do hope you are feeling better.

    Jenn-na-na, I'm so enjoying following your garden journey. You are learning very quickly!


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