Peonies Plant of the week

went to a garden and saw this.

I am starting with a web site that has many many questions and answers on Peony culture. Gardeners should find a cure for what ails them there. Meanwhile, here, we shall look at good pictures of Peonies from the University of Michigan’s Peony trial garden in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Oh yes, one more thing….ants have nothing to do with Peony buds opening. The ants just like the sugary sap.

Peonies come in colors from white to deep pink

Peonies are a perennial plant that come in herbaceous and shrubby. All the plants we saw at the garden yesterday were the herbaceous type which die down to the ground each winter.

Single flowers show the yellow center.

Herbaceous peonies are easy to grow in sunny locations.

If your peonies do not bloom, they either are not getting enough sun or are planted too deeply. Hope you enjoy my pictures taken by my husband.


Page From a Tennessee Journal 5*/5*

Page from a Tennessee Journal by Francine Thomas Howard was one of the best books I have read lately. At first I was thinking I was not going to like it. It is about African-American sharecroppers in 1915 (or so) cotton farms of TN. The life was more or less worse than slavery. The sharecroppers were subjected to grueling conditions and environments. The families were abused by the white property owners at will. It was sad, but the author showed both sides of the equation and how the characters thought and felt.

Although the whole story was about a dysfunctional situation, the motives and histories were so clearly explained, you could almost understand how the culture evolved to that point.

Dahlia Overwintering

The results!

Plastic tote full of peat moss and dahlia tubers

Last autumn, I tried my hand at storing my dahlia tubers over the winter. The results of the experiment are in. I had partial success.

Last year in September, I inspected my dahlias and decided it was worth a shot at digging up the tubers and storing them. Dahlias are not hardy tubers so they cannot take freezing. In my part of the country, the soil freezes down at least a foot, so if I leave the tubers in place, they will freeze and die. The thing to do is to lift them up, clean them off and store them.

The lifting went extremely well. They are shallowly rooted and at that time, a strong stem was growing out of them. You can wait until the tops have been frozen off by frosts but I just pulled them out a bit early. I trimmed the tops of into a recycling bag, and cleaned up the tuberous root mass. The roots look like either a single sweet potato, or if growing well, a starfish shape of lots of sweet potatoes joined at a big stem. Where the tubers join the central stem part is where the new buds will grow. I tried not to break up the starfish too much. If a tuber breaks off without the shoulder going into the stem part, it will not grow any eyes (buds) next spring.

I spread out the tubers on newspaper in the garage and waited a few weeks until all the soil was dry and dusted off. Then I filled two experimental containers with peat moss.

The main container was a plastic fliptop tote. I started with a layer of 3 inches of dry peat moss in the bottom. Then I tried to lay out the tubers in a single layer without letting them touch each other. I filled in the spaces with peat moss and repeated layer upon layer until the box was full. This box was stored in a closet in an unheated garage next to a heated wall of the house. I was going for a cold but not freezing location. I placed a max/min thermometer on top of the box. Over the course of the winter it was fairly stable and cool, but it dig reach a low of 26 degrees and a high of 62 degrees. Only about 30% of the tubers survived the freezing temperature. I got 11 tubers suitable for planting this spring out of 36.

My other small container only held 2 tubers but they did the best. I put peat moss in a gallon sized ziplock and tossed in the tubers. I squeezed the air out and stored it all winter in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator. They came out perfect because they did not freeze. The only problem was room to store all the tubers I want to store. Two tubers took up the whole vegetable drawer of the refrigerator, so that is not practical except for a few special ones.

Unearthing the tubers in the spring was kind of a mess with peat moss going all over and rotten tubers being pulled out. I am not sure if all 11 planted tubers are going to be successful. Some of them had a few arms that were questionable. I probably should have trimmed them off but if they die, they die. They are planted in cool soil now but we are getting some warm weather in the next two weeks. It is May 9th here and our 90% frost free date in this part of the country is May 15th. I doubt the tubers will grow any shoots out of the ground to get frozen in the next couple weeks. Here are some photos of the tubers as they came out of the plastic tote.

I guess I will be visiting the dahlia society sales to augment my collection this spring.

Book Review Daemon 3/5 *

Daemon by Daneil Suarez

I wish I knew how cool this book was but I don’t. It has many elements making it a great story. It has a hell of a yarn to tell, exciting characters, lots of suspense and a compelling reason to get to the end and find out what happens. The only thing wrong with it is you have to know a little about computers and networks to appreciate the situation and I know about what an average person knows. In this cyber crime novel, an evil genius tries to take over the world by networking all the computers and making them its minions. It is a pretty good story with lots of characters although some of them seem a little comic book-like with super muscles or brains or insane bravery. I just could not understand much of the story due to techno babble. The author tries a little to have some explanations by having one character explain the computer content to another character but it was still way over my head. I’m not sure if some of this computer stuff is possible or if this is largely a work of fiction. I assume it is a fictitious situation but if it is techno fact, we are in a lot of trouble.

One interesting thing about the story, is that it has made me realize just how many mundane activities are electronic. From garage door openers to swipe key cards, maps on GPS and cellphone apps, all are electronic and vulnerable to the daemon. So much of our lives are no longer based on mechanical tumbler locks, or paper records written by hand. The only thing the Daemon could not control were the simple things like that.

Overall, you will enjoy this book more if you like sci-fi and have some computer knowledge. It was a decent read, but I could not appreciate the more technical aspects.