CARING FOR PAEONIES

AMONG the chief glories of the garden in May and June are the paeonies. These herbaceous paeonies thrive in any normal garden soil, particularly those that contain lime rather than those that are acid. They do not mind partial shade and they are often planted in the front of a shrub border where they will be shaded for part of the day and where their roots will not be disturbed by soil cultivations. They should not, however, be planted too near trees as the roots of these may rob the soil of much moisture and plant foods needed by the paeonies. Spring-flowering bulbs of many kinds, such as Grape Hyacinths (muscari) and narcissi, may be planted around them and these will come into flower and go over while the paeonies are still making their early leaf growth.

Planting may be done in the early autumn, September or October or in March. The plants should not be planted too deeply; it is sufficient if the crown, the top of the root-stock, is covered with about I in. of soil. They should be planted firmly, but at the same time care should be taken not to break the brittle, fleshy roots.

After this nothing need be done except to keep down the weeds round the plants until the following autumn or winter. Then the soil round the paeonies should be top-dressed with a few inches of well-rotted manure or compost. However, if the spring and summer after planting are very dry the plants should be really well watered from time to time.

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