I know winter is coming not by the date on the calendar or the outside temperature plunge, but by my withered peony plants. Come late fall, the leaves and stalks of my many peonies will have begun to decompose, and it is time to cut them down and haul them away. I put off cutting down my peonies for as long as possible to insure they get all the energy possible in through their leaves for as long as possible. But once they begin to turn brown and even some to mildew, it is in their and my best interest to cut them down. If they stay too long in the garden, any diseased leaves can fall to the ground and any undesirable spores can hibernate til next spring and begin another cycle.
Good peony management is equal to good hygiene.
It took a whole day to cut down the over 100 peonies in my garden and haul them away to the dump. I don’t compost them in my compost pile because, again, any undesirable spores can be spread through the compost so I take them to the town dump. This is rather hard work, and it pains me to see so much potential compost going to waste! But, it must be done. There is so much volume I have to borrow a friend’s truck to move it all.
It is only at this time of year that I question the number of peonies in the garden, but only briefly. For all I have to do is think of their spring exuberance to chase away doubts that they are too much work, or too ephemeral and I find myself researching new sources for new peony introductions. A fetish can be a wonderful thing.
I am heading out now to plant two Sugar and Spice peonies in a client’s garden. Lucky her, she is in for a treat come spring.