In Japan, the peony is called Botan and is the king of flowers. Peonies symbolize bravery and honor. In other cultures, peonies symbolize romance, a happy marriage, compassion, prosperity and good luck. The plant flowers for only a few short weeks and a good rain ruins the blooms. I’m not putting up umbrellas over my peonies but it’s commonly done in Japanese gardens.

We planted several peonies in Little Siberia and collected some roots this fall for the farm. In late October, we dug up and packed the roots of a few peony plants into a suitcase. The roots have been planted in pots and some single stems that looked like throwaways were planted in the pond waste garden. I am hopeful that in two or three years we will have full bushes again. To have a peony plant bloom successfully, the root should have at least three eyes. We’ll just have a few lean plants at the beginning.

I’m not completely sure which roots belonged to which peonies – it will be a nice surprise when we see the blooms. In a few weeks I will be transferring the starter peonies into the ground. I am crossing my fingers that most will take and thrive. I have brought my favorite tree peony with peachy-yellow blooms and some of my fragrant peonies. Not all peonies have a scent. Some of the newer hybrids look pretty but no fragrance.

The peonies are living inside the greenhouse and today I repotted some of the “throwaway stems” because they had developed eyes. My greenhouse plant management skills are lacking and I have a feeling we’re going to have some struggling plants. So far, the potatoes, a few herbs, the tea plants and the starter peonies are doing fine.

It’s going to be winter around here for a few more weeks. The daily highs are around 50°F and several evenings drop into the twenties. Of course this is far better than the sub-zero conditions we had in Minnesota. We’re so quick to forget how lucky we are! I need to take advantage of mild winter temps to prepare for spring planting. I plan on some changes in the main vegetable garden and I need to plot out some sites for a new pumpkin patch and lettuce beds. So many things to do…