Tuesday tidbits.

If you love peonies, this post about “peony anatomy” may be of interest. Or you can just ogle the beautiful photos. Either way, it’s a win.

I found a really cool site containing microscope photography by Dr. Gary Greenberg – my favourite pics are of the jewel-like sand grains, here, but the whole gallery is worth a gander.

Yummy recipe alert: these muffins are tops!  Except I didn’t have ube and substituted yellow-fleshed sweet potatoes…plus, I didn’t add walnuts due to my allergies, and I skipped the glaze, as it really isn’t necessary and sort of makes them cupcakes instead of muffins, doesn’t it? They’re sweet enough as they are, but the glaze would make them special-occasion-worthy: like a “I managed to get out of bed this morning to go to work, so let’s celebrate!” kind of muffin/cupcake/whatever.

Even if you’re not a fan of Martha Stewart, her latest book Martha’s Flowers is absolutely droolicious (drooleriffic?). I know, I’m making words up here but there aren’t sufficient superlatives in the English language to describe the photography and artful styling in this book.  If you can get your hands on a copy from your local library, do treat yourself.  I haven’t even gotten around to reading the text yet (ahem) as I keep staring at the photos and stammering out awe-struck gibberish.

From the Boast and Braggart files…a couple of articles I wrote about herb gardening have been recently published: “Tea Time: Growing Herbs for Tisanes” appears in the Winter 2018 issue of Archive magazine, and “Designing a Meadow Garden” is featured in the Winter issue of Herb Quarterly.

Have a wonderful week!

Prize-winning peonies.

The 14th annual Canadian Peony Society Show and General Meeting was held in Calgary over the weekend, and although I’m not a member of the national peony society, I just had to take in the cut flower displays that were open for viewing to the public.  I love peony flowers for their sheer extravagance – even the single forms make a bolder statement in the garden than most other plants.  There is simply nothing subtle about peonies, and how wonderful is that?

According to the Canadian Peony Society’s website (www.peony.ca), cut flowers on display are categorized in several ways, primarily based on flower colour, form, and plant derivation.  There are four classifications of peonies:  the lactifloras, which are the traditional, exceptionally long-lived, herbaceous garden varieties we are most familiar with; the hybrids, created when two or more peony species are bred together; tree peonies, which are woody varieties; and finally, intersectional peonies, the cross-breeds of herbaceous and woody peonies.  Confused, yet?  Just wait!   Break these categories down even further into flower types:  single, Japanese, anemone, semi-double, and double.  And then colour…although the lactifloras are easy (they only come in red, white and pink).  Tree peonies tend toward the dark, jewel colours such as carmine and purple, and the hybrids are the ones that are often two-toned, or blush.  Having absolutely no experience growing peonies, I can’t quite wrap my head around the intricacies of it, but it’s definitely not difficult to enjoy these show-stopping blooms!

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When showing cut peony flowers, exhibitors may cut blooms up to four weeks in advance of a show, and keep the stems refrigerated until ready to display.  Only single blooms are shown (unless otherwise allowed).  The practice is to strip the stems of all leaves except the uppermost ones – foliage can actually detract from the blossom’s merits if it is discoloured or deformed.  The flower itself must be completely symmetrical and uniform in colour and shape, without any blemishes.

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