I know this as I have just fallen flat on my face over peonies. Lovely covetable peonies with their bally flowers, huge and fluffy and oh-so Sarah Bernhardt gorgeous. But with a string in their tail: bad late season leaves that cannot be cut down until the frosts are about to arrive. And the 'tend to' is an there advisedly, as I know that there are some cultivars that have a surge of autumn colours through the leaf . For the rest, the end of the summer look is on show below. It is not a pretty sight.
The planting design was minimal. Parterre beds that were already there, were cut down in size to be 4 metre squares, edged with timber and framed by Buxus sempervirens
and with a repeated square of the same in the middle. There is colour aplenty elsewhere in the garden and so here we kept it green and white. With the box, nothing but white peonies underplanted with the triple headed narcissus, Narcissus triandrus Thalia.
Each square has Paeonia Kelways Glorious
to the two long sides and Paeonia Festiva Maxima
to the north side and Paeonia Duchesse de Nemours
to the south. Twenty four peonies per box. As spring tips over and advances, they are pushing their reddish, upside down chickens feet of a stem and latent leaves up though the delicate and lovely display of of spring bulbs.
Oh, and I forgot to mention that there is also a sprinkling of Allium Mt Everest
, tall and grapefruit sixed white balls on top.
Here is a spring view: looks pretty good for a the second year of planting.
But come the end of July and the leaves begin to char and furl and I realise that the peones have been asked to hold the centre stage for an unrealistically long season.
What's the solution? I'm making a list. I am a little ln love with a superb small miscanthus, gold and tufted grass at this time of the year. That or another late season grass could be good companions to hide the peony leaves. A help email is out in the ether to Knoll Gardens to get an expert grass opinion.
Kelways, who sold us the peonies suggest a sedum. Well, perhaps Sedum Matrona
would do it but not everyone loves this plant. and then there is the thought of repeating it over and over again. It could begin to look like a cauliflour field.
Because the blank earth areas are large I think next year we will sow half hardy annuals. This will give us next summer to trial a grass or perennial or two and have a bust of vibrant colour (go hang that white theme) For the HHAs - the short list is Cleome Spiderflower and Ipomea mil. Chocolate
(the latter is a milk coffee flowered Morning Glory that we will experiment as a trailer. The idea is to sow them in the greenhouse and then plant them out as large plugs in early frost-free summer. They will then surge and splurge all over those tripping up leaves.