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Celebrating peonies

Flower-lovers flock to Red Twig Farms in Ohio every year to bring home bushels of a long-loved harbinger of spring.
  • Age-old affair

    Our love affair with peonies dates back 1,000 years. Each spring, gardeners far and wide relish peony season with near hedonistic abandon, filling vases with giant blossoms and drinking in their heady perfume.

    Date Published: April 5, 2019
    Date Updated: April 9, 2019
  • Rain, rain go away

    The ancients likely cursed the sky each time a downpour left their gorgeous, ruffled pink blooms battered and bruised— just as gardeners are likely to do today. In fact, Josh McCullough, a peony grower in Ohio, recalls a Memorial Day picnic when storm clouds sent the whole family running for the fields to clear Red Twig Farms’ remaining peonies.

    Date Published: April 5, 2019
    Date Updated: April 9, 2019
  • Gaining momentum

    Witnessing the near frenzy pitch of peony season, Josh’s wife, Lindsey, saw an opportunity. In 2016, she threw her first Peony Season Opener at the McCulloughs’ cut flower and branch farm in New Albany, Ohio. The festival includes food trucks, a plant sale, and buckets overflowing with loose peonies for bouquets. Lindsey’s instincts were right: The event drew 168 people the first year and turnout surpassed 1,400 the second.

    Date Published: April 5, 2019
    Date Updated: April 9, 2019
  • Fragrant heirloom

    The McCulloughs sell 28 varieties of peonies, as well as pussy willows, dahlias, dogwoods, and willow branches. At the Opener, shoppers snack on doughnuts and assemble armfuls of frilly blush-pink orbs and bombs, luxe bowl-shape corals, and even the prize of many brides’ Pinterest boards: the fragrant heirloom ‘Sarah Bernhardt’.

    Date Published: April 5, 2019
    Date Updated: April 9, 2019
  • Peonies prevail

    Every few years, Josh tries new varieties in his test plots. It’s a slow process. Peony plants need three years to mature—but once they do, they often outlast their gardeners, surviving more than a century. 

    Date Published: April 5, 2019
    Date Updated: April 9, 2019
  • Season opener

    “We love hearing customers’ peony stories from their grandmothers’ gardens and seeing them now snap pictures of their own kids with bouquets at our sale,” Lindsey says. It’s a rare opportunity. Red Twig Farms’ Peony Season Opener lasts just two days (May 25 and 26 this year), a pop-up celebration as festive and fleeting as peonies themselves.

    Date Published: April 5, 2019
    Date Updated: April 9, 2019
  • Beautiful bouquets

    Here's some tips to create stunning arrangements that showcase the breathtaking peony.

    Harvest Early
    To maximize vase life, harvest peonies when the buds start to show some color and feel soft like marshmallows. (Cutting them before buds open also limits the ants that love to ride inside on the blooms.)

    Cut 'em Right
    Plan to cut flowers in the morning, if possible, and cut stems to about the length of your forearm. Strip off all lower leaves.

    Mix it Up
    Use a mixture of peonies in your arrangements for a custom look. Choose stems of different types: single, double, Japanese, anemone, and bomb double. Each category features a different petal arrangement and density.

    Add Layers
    Peonies like to take a starring role in arrangements, but finish out your bouquet with some attractive foliage. Ornamental kale, Hosta leaves, dusty miller, or lamb’s ears all make attractive pairings.

    Date Published: April 5, 2019
    Date Updated: April 9, 2019

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