Gail Gee's garden in Fulton, Maryland was open to the public last weekend as a fund-raising event for Brookside Gardens, and boy, am I glad I saw it! See, it was billed as "Party with the Peonies" and I have to confess I have no particular interest in peonies. But this 3-acre garden is so much more than the sum of its peonies! Besides, I seem to be acquiring an appreciation for them - thanks to Gail's collection.
According Adrian Higgins's glowing article about the garden in the Washington post, it includes 300 varieties of peonies, and 43 of them are the wonderful new "intersectional" hybrids that are the talk of the gardening world. That's because they love our hot climate, grow fast, bloom early, have a great shrub form and best of all - they're self-supporting. But about the supposed flopping problem with most peonies? Here in Gail's garden, all but one of the 300 are self-supporting, and the one that isn't she simply lets flop rather than interrupt the vast sweep of plants with a metal cage. Except for that one flopper that she grows for sentimental reasons, the rest of the floppers have been weeded out through tough love - stand up straight or get out!
Of course Gail's visitors all wanted to know how she DOES it - take care of all these borders. And the answer is that she takes care of it herself but with the help of one assistant two days a week. And lots of deer fencing.