The Times West Virginian

My Garden

May 23, 2012

Spring’s showstoppers



“If you just plunk it in, it probably won’t bloom. Dig a hole, pack a cone in it and spread the roots. Lay a board across the top and measure down. If it’s not 2 inches, make it 2 inches. Once it’s planted properly, the peony will go on forever. You make them happy, and they’ll make you happy.
“They’re so old-timey.”
Peonies are the attention-getters in her garden. Their large, showy blossoms come in many colors ... bright, deep pink ... delicate raspberry sorbet ... elegant festiva maxima’s white flowers.
OK, the big peony question is: Are the ants that cover the buds beneficial to the plant? 
Some say yes. Some say no. But it seems ants are not required for the flowers to open. 
“Peonies are gorgeous, but one good rain and they’re gone,” she said. “At least this year, they’re falling apart naturally.”
Her garden is a haven for many other old-fashioned flowers as well, like the weigela bush, which delights her with its pink-and-white blossoms.
“It’s not fancy by any stretch of the imagination,” she said. “But it’s what I like.”
The mountain laurel, with its tiny flowers, “looks so pretty in with the peonies,” she said of the rhododendron’s little cousin.
“I don’t know if it’s my childhood, but I love old-timey flowers,” she said. “They’re just like what my grandma had in her garden.”
The morning sun garden is crowded with hostas, Japanese anemones, astilbes, columbines, dianthus, perennial geranium, asters, sunflowers and even a butterfly bush in the background.
Have deer? Try this trick: Plant astilbe.
“The leaves are slightly hairy. Deer will leave it alone. But they love hostas. It’s like candy to them.”
Her $15 knock-out rose bush (“It will knock your socks off,” she said of the scent) will bloom all summer, she said. “And you don’t have to do anything.

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My Garden
  • kim.wilson.deb.jpg A tranquil escape

    Kimberly Wilson’s yard is much more than a garden.
    With its terraced slopes, shade trees and bright flowers, it’s a tranquil escape from the pressures of the world.
    You don’t even have to go to the patio with the park bench overlooking the front of the property.

    June 27, 2012 1 Photo

  • Marjorie Cipollone Delightful koi pond

    Marjorie Cipollone likes pretty things.
    Like the multi-colored day lilies that circle the pond in her front yard.
    Or the two-tiered waterfall and the water that cascades from it in gentle burbles and bubbles.

    June 20, 2012 2 Photos

  • pearse-vine.deb.jpg Hanging out

    Nothing quite says “We have kids” like the good old jungle gym in the backyard.
    And nothing quite says “Our kids are grown” like that really old jungle gym in the backyard.
    You could dismantle it and throw it away. You could find someone who could use it.

    June 13, 2012 2 Photos

  • stevens.jpg Teetotal sanctuary

    A couple of years ago, Anita Stevens probably couldn’t tell a rose from a rhododendron.
    That changed when a friend suggested putting in a little flower bed.
    “And that’s all it took,” Stevens said.

    June 6, 2012 1 Photo

  • Jackie Straight A work of love

    Flowers have a BFF in Jackie Straight.
    Her home outside Rivesville is the perfect place to slow down, drink in the perfume of blooming flowers, listen to singing birds and dream of summer and its bounty of blossoms and fruit.

    May 30, 2012 3 Photos

  • connie.jpg Spring’s showstoppers


    Call them what you want, but for Connie Ahrens, peonies — spring’s original old-timey showstoppers — evoke memories of her grandfather Dan Steiniger.
    “There was this big peony at his house, and I could not pass it without sticking my face in it when I was a kid. I just had to inhale that amazing fragrance,” she said."

    May 23, 2012 1 Photo

  • Pond Country perfection

    Some houses are just made for the country.
    They look vibrant surrounded by the bright colors of spring.
    They’re enveloped by the lush greens of summer.

    May 16, 2012 2 Photos

  • toothman, judy.jpg Something special

    Right now, Judy Toothman’s garden is just getting started.
    But just you wait.
    “In a couple of weeks, it will be something special,” she promised.
    The black-eyed Susans are already popping up. Day lilies are primping and preening to make their special appearance.

    May 9, 2012 1 Photo

  • Ed Cheslock Turns out fine

    Even though Ed Cheslock grew up on a 75-acre farm near Laurel Point, he didn’t exactly love gardening.
    “Because we had to do it,” he said.

    May 2, 2012 2 Photos

  • Mary Whyte A fine ‘mess’

    It’s good to dig in the dirt.
    “It eases your mind,” said Mary Whyte.
    “It doesn’t do anything for my fingernails! But they’ll outgrow it,” she added, laughing.
    In her little garden right off the back porch of her 100-year-old home, she grows just enough for a dinner or two at a time.

    April 25, 2012 2 Photos

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