Monday, June 11, 2007

Peony | "Red Charm"

One of the great local gardening treasures is Countryman Peony Farm in Northfield. It was started by Bill Countryman who died about two years ago. The guy was a nut for peonies. Up on the hill, just south of Norwich University, on Winch Hill Road Countryman planted every known variety of peonies. He was amazing and, based upon the number of times I saw his name pop up in gardening articles, a well-known expert in the field of peonies.

Unfortunately, he didn't have much sense on how to sell the plants. If you go to the farm, you'll have trouble finding it since it's poorly marked. You'll eventually just find a large field of peonies with a house at the end of a dirt road running along the side of the field. I'm not even sure if his family has kept the farm going since his death but you used to have to just go knock on his door to buy any of his plants. That would be followed by digging the plant up yourself.

However, despite dealing with all that crap, it was worth it since he had a spectacular collection. One of his suggestions was a peony called "Red Charm". As you can see in the photo above, it's blooming light a set of trucker high beams right now in our yard. It's great and those blooms are each about the size of a softball. They'll stick around for about two weeks unless we get a torrential downpour before then. However, one of the beautiful aspects of "Red Charm" is that they require minimal maintenance. I stuck that thing in the ground about four years ago and, besides putting a peony ring around the plant each spring, I don't touch it.

If you don't want to go down to Countryman Peony Farm, Boots Wardinski at the Montpelier Farmers Market sells "Red Charm" also.

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