In addition to all the plants I've ordered (shipping for them starts in another month), I've been busy with other garden-related purchases. While I was searching on-line for information on species and woodland Peonies, I discovered something that this Peony gardener had to have: an umbrella to protect Peony flowers from potential damage from too much sun or its opposite, rain. Not sure if its cool or crazy but I couldn't resist it once I saw it. Sheer garden fantasy!
I found it at Cricket Hill Garden, a specialty plant nursery located in Connecticut. The offer Herbaceous, Intersectional and Tree Peonies as well as rare, older Tree Peonies for those who are willing to spend $300 to $600 on a rare plant. I will say they are gorgeous looking. Cricket Hill Garden also sells edible landscape plants like Pawpaws, Elderberries and Apples. In addition they sell scion wood for a number of the landscape plants for those who want to propagate their own at a greatly reduced price. They even sell viable Chinese Tree Peony seeds!
My species and woodland Peonies can all take a fair amount of sun; all except P. maculata ssp. kavachensis which has quickly faded early in the season. I planted it at the outer edge of a Pagoda Dogwood tree which has been losing branches, thus exposing the Peony to more light than it seems to want. I thought the umbrella would be a way to see if shade helps the plant and also to protect any of the Peony plants coming into its peak as a storm approaches.
The umbrella is made of bamboo and nylon. The Cricket Hill website says they use the umbrellas for about a month at Peony time, and then clean and store them for later use. I like them because they are plain and simple with no decoration. The bamboo pole is reinforced at the center point. Overall height is 5' 3" tall and is all one piece. The nylon umbrella has a diameter of 33 inches. The umbrella "webbing" is all hand-done like a work of art.
The whole thing came wrapped in brown paper and plastic with not a tear or dent. The umbrellas cost $45 each or 3/$99.00. Since I have about a dozen woodland and species Peonies I really wanted to buy three, but only got the one until I was sure what it looked like and how it was made. I am pleased with it and I can't wait to try it out!
Cricket Hill also sells Martin Page's superb book, "The Gardener's Peony," which covers absolutely everything you wanted to know about every kind of Peony. Even though my local library has it, I am thinking of buying a copy since I like the quirky Peonies that are hard to find and even harder to find information about them. Page has a whole chapter covering each and every one.
Photo of Peony parasols from Cricket Hill Garden website.