Monday, May 18, 2015

Houmas House Plantation & Gardens

Houmas House Plantation & Gardens is a beautiful historic plantation in Darrow, LA, on the Mississippi River. See the link above for history and more information.

The plantation was established in the 1700's and the house was completed in 1840.

Front façade of Houmas House

Once known as "The Sugar Palace" it at one time farmed tens of thousands of acres of sugarcane and was the largest sugar producer in the country. As was the time, the labor was provided by slaves.

The Greek revival mansion has been completely restored. The furnishings are of the period, but not original.

The property has changed hands many times over the years. The current owner has restored and enhanced both the mansion and the gardens.

The oak trees out front used to go all the way to the Mississippi River. Now the levee cuts off the view and many of the oaks were removed to make way for progress.

The Oak Alley

Spanish moss hangs on the oaks.
We did the guided tour of the mansion and found it interesting and informative. Much of the mansion is open to the tour.  

There are restaurants, a bar, a gift shop and an inn on site also.

The gardens are varied. There is an area of desert plants, a Japanese tea pavilion above a waterfall, a kitchen garden, ponds and vast expanses of lawn and old oaks.

It was well worth the entrance fee to visit the gardens. 
Desert garden

Oaks & Agaves
Sugar was boiled in the metal basin.
Spanish moss

The back of the mansion.
When pigs fly!

Lots of "Little Friends" in the garden.

Tea Pavilion
Kitchen Garden
Nice ass!
Ring around the Gnome

The Garçonnière

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

More Peony Adventures 2015!

This year I had to choose between a rock and a hard place. My annual pilgrimage to Adleman's and the Oregon Plant Blogger's Spring Plant Swap.

They were both on the same day and since it was the only day Alan could go to Adleman's, I'm afraid peonies won out. The trip is an all day affair, so there was no option of doing both.

With my trusty companions, Alan and Anita, we set out to do some damage to our wallets.

Alan is new to peonies. He bought four last year at Adleman's and this year he had no trouble picking out a few more, including an intersectional. He's been pretty excited about last year's plants blooming this spring in his garden for the first time.

Anita wanted to buy a tree peony this year (but ended up with a beautiful intersectional named 'Unique'), several herbaceous for herself, and a herbaceous peony ('Leslie Peck') for her mom.

I went with buying three herbaceous peonies in mind, but of course ended up with EIGHT. I forgot to buy their fertilizer while I was there though!  Doh!

Might as well fill up the entire cart! No use having extra space in there.

Alan and Anita with their carts. Anita is hiding behind "Unique'.
The car was so packed with peonies that I couldn't see out the back of the car. If we had bought one more, there would have been peonies strapped to the roof of the car.
Total rear view black out and some big smiles!
After our stop at Adleman's, we went to Brooks Gardens Peonies to look at potted peony plants and for a look-see around their display gardens. 
On the way back, we hit Al's in Woodburn and Hughes Water Gardens for water lily fertilizer tabs, pond plants and tadpoles.

By the time we left our last stop, there was no more room for plants. Everybody had a flat of plants on their lap and there were several bags of baby amphibians being looked after.

All in all an excellent day!

Some of my new flowers are below!

Paeonia  'Top Brass' opening
Paeonia 'Blaze'
Paeonia 'Laura Magnuson'
Paeonia 'Linda's Dream'
Paeonia  'Topeka Garnet'

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Enchanting Peonies

I had a message on the blog this morning: "怎么今年不晒牡丹啊?" or "Why are you not sharing Peonies this year?"  

I have been remiss. I apologize!  对不起! 真是对不起!

So this is my first annual gratuitous peony picture post just for my Chinese friend. 

Several of the tree peonies I planted last year are blooming for the first time, and this spring, in a moment of weakness, I came home with several new ones, all of which are also blooming.

The herbaceous peonies are in various stages of bud, but still a few weeks behind, as they always are. That will be a future post.

The first time I lived in Taiwan in 1991, I brought a folding shoji screen back for my mother as a gift and it was a pain in the ass to get home on the airline! If I recall correctly it cost more for extra baggage to bring home then it did to actually buy it.

I have always loved it as art and it has been part of my inspiration for planting a multitude of peonies.

The Chinese idiom "国色天香" (guose tianxiang) painted on it refers to the beauty of peony flowers.

In a literal sense is means "national beauty and heavenly fragrance".


It is easy to be enchanted by the beauty of a peony.
Which brings me to the newest peonies to bloom for the first time:

Paeonia  'Taiyo 太阳' (The Sun Tree Peony)
Paeonia  'Taiyo 太阳' (The Sun Tree Peony)
Paeonia 'Kokuryu Nishiki 黑竜錦' (Black Dragon Brocade Tree Peony)
Paeonia 'Yachiyo Tsubaki 八千代椿' (Eternal Camellias Tree Peony)

Paeonia 'Houki 芳纪' (Red Tree Peony)
Paeonia 'Shima Daijin 島大臣' (Island Minister Tree Peony)
'Paeonia  'Koukamon 皇嘉门' (Floral Gate Tree Peony)
 Some old favorites:

Paeonia ostii 'Feng Dan Bai 鳳丹白' (Phoenix White Tree Peony)
Paeonia ostii 'Feng Dan Bai 鳳丹白' (Phoenix White Tree Peony)  with 'Rou Fu Rong 肉芙蓉' in back
Paeonia 'Shima Nishiki 岛锦' (Forest Flame Tree Peony)

Paeonia  'Seidei 聖代' (Glorious Reign Tree Peony)
Paeonia 'Kamata Fuji' (Wisteria of Kamata Tree Peony)

Paeonia  'High Noon 海黄' (High Noon Tree Peony)

Paeonia 'Hei Bao 黑豹' (Black Panther Tree Peony)
Paeonia 'Hei Bao 黑豹' (Black Panther Tree Peony)

Paeonia  'Rou Fu Rong 肉芙蓉' (Pink Hibiscus Tree Peony)
Paeonia suffruticosa
 I'm not sure about this one?!?

One year, before I was careful about remembering where I planted each peony, I planted this one.

I think it may be Paeonia suffruticosa 'Hua Er Qiao 花二乔' (Twin Beauty Tree Peony), but it doesn't seem like the right flower or quite the right color pattern?  

And much to my joy, there was a baby born this year!

I sprinkled Paeonia suffruticosa seeds around and looks like one took!