Tree Peony– gone until next year

The fall before our daughter Martin-Lane was born, nearly 13 years ago, we planted a tree peony. The first flower bloomed on April 16, the day she was born, and on her birthday for the first 9 years of her life.  A couple years ago a cool early spring delayed the flowers opening until the end of April. This year they bloomed on April 5th.

Tree peonies have larger and more delicate flowers than more common bush peonies. The trees grow slowly and prefer not to be moved. Tree peonies buds are formed above the ground on the woody stems during the fall so take care not to prune in the fall or you will not have any flowers the following spring. With bush peonies next years buds are also formed in the fall but in the underground rhizome so cutting leaves will not affect the next springs flowers. Tree peony flowers only last a few days on the tree or in a vase.  Like all peonies if you want to use the bloom as a cut flower cut as soon as the bud feels like a marshmallow, before the flower actually opens. Place the cut stem immediately in cold water, most likely the flower will open in a few hours.

Firewood Joe

One of the important numbers in my phone is for "Firewood Joe".  He brings us wood for our Grillery.  We use it as our second oven– at Home Restaurants at least one passing bite and one of the seated courses is cooked over wood.  Joe's wood is fabulous to cook with, it burns easily and evenly.  He claims it has to do with the even splitting of logs, the hardwood varieties and the seasoning of the wood (meaning that moisture has evaporated)– a process that takes about 2 years.  And then there is the flavor that comes from the type of wood– Joe delivers a mix of maple, oak, apple and cherry woods– the result is a deep yet mellow smoky flavor that enhances but does not overpower the ingredients.

Late February Flowers

I sent flowers to a friend this week and got to choose anything I wanted... no colors, budget or design plan to adhere to!  I arranged them in a two piece white egg-shaped vessel made for me by Middle Kingdom.  I filled half of the egg with Virginia anemones, French green ranunculus, New Jersey parrot tulips and the first hyacinths from a protected spot in my back garden–

Sorrel in February

Sorrel, a favorite herb of ours is a perennial.  We grow a red veined variety in our front herb garden and green sorrel in our back walled garden.  Most winters it completely dies back and returns in the spring– this mild winter it is still going strong.  Saturday night we hosted a Home Restaurant and used it to complement passed Path Valley scrambled eggs.


Winter through April one of my favorite flowers, helleborus are available.  Right now I am getting them through the Dutch auction in Holland, I can already see buds just starting to form on the plants in my garden and I will be able to get them from a favorite local flower farmer, Bob Wollam, in April and March....These are delicate flowers and generally only have a few day life span after they are picked but they are without a doubt worth it!  I used them as part of the centerpieces at a small wedding at the Tabard Inn yesterday.