Garden Photo of the Day

Peonies in Clare’s garden in New Jersey

'Bath's Pink' dianthus and peonies in full bloom. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Clare Oliva

We’ve featured Clare’s garden in Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, a few times (refresh your memory HERE, HERE, and HERE), and we’ve seen a glimpse of her peonies, but today she’s back to show us the real deal. 

‘Rozanne’ geranium (not yet in bloom) on opposite side of path. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Clare Oliva

She says, “I’ve been meaning to send pictures of my peonies in bloom this spring and am finally getting around to it now. Peony time is one of my favorite times in our garden here in northern New Jersey and this year, the blooms were especially magnificent. My husband and I have a one-acre lot and spend every spare minute (when we aren’t working full-time in NYC) working in the garden.”

Peonies along rock wall flanked by past-bloom creeping phlox on right side and not-yet-bloomed ‘Rozanne’ geraniums on left side. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Clare Oliva

It shows, Clare! Everything looks gorgeous. Thanks for the update!

Side yard at peony time. Nice mounds of grass and daylilies along the path. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Clare Oliva
Another view of those fabulous peonies! Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Clare Oliva
Peonies going around the rock wall with rose arbor blooming in background. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Clare Oliva
View of boxwood hedge around raised beds with peonies in foreground and rose arbor blooming in background. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Clare Oliva
Peonies in full glorious bloom. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Clare Oliva
Peonies along rock wall. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Clare Oliva
Formal beds in early June. Newly planted ‘Morris Dwarf’ boxwood hedges around the perimeter with wax begonias. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Clare Oliva
View of the peonies when bloom started. Parasol Lady topiary in background. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Clare Oliva
‘Sarah Bernhardt’ Peony. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Clare Oliva

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  1. user-1020932 07/09/2013

    absolutely beautiful and yes i took the garden tour of previous posts. i can imagine it does take every spare minute but man what a pay off. i can almost smell the peonies as i look at the photos

  2. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 07/09/2013

    Besides the fact that peonies are my favorite flower, I love that your garden is this sort of formal cottage garden. It is such a great hybrid of two opposite styles, to me anyway. So wonderful!

  3. mainer59 07/09/2013

    Your garden is fabulous. I love the lines of color that present a theme throughout the garden, and in different seasons. Peonies have such a presence, glorious in bloom but great structure from the foliage later. The rows of stella d'oras (other posts) and knockout roses carry the curving lines of color through other seasons. These curving lines unite the large space in what is a spectacular garden.

  4. wGardens 07/09/2013

    Fabulous! What a lovely treat to see these this morning. Out of curiosity, how many varieites do you have?

    What a fantastic place for a wedding, too!

  5. pattyspencer 07/09/2013

    The smell must be heavenly! Beautiful garden!!

  6. User avater
    meander_michaele 07/09/2013

    No plant is more worthy of holding center stage all on its than the glorious peony. Yours are just beautiful, Clare,and you have presented them so perfectly in your planting arrangement of alternating lighter and darker blooms. Each one compliments and sets off the next. Do you do any subtle staking? If so, I'd love to know your secret since nothing is visible.

  7. bee1nine 07/09/2013

    Absolutely divine!!
    I too, along with meander1 would be interested to know your
    secret if staking or minor pruning was needed. generally when it rains, they can become wayward and floppy!

  8. judfor 07/09/2013

    Your gardens are so lovely. As a new gardener, I want to thank everyone for the mentioning of plant names.

  9. Sandi_M 07/09/2013

    Your garden is stunning! I like how you've alternated the pink and white peonies, so pretty.

  10. tractor1 07/09/2013

    Gotta just love those guardian feline sculptures, and those gorgeous planters up high on pedestals. But aside from all the glorious blooms, all arranged spetacularly and with precision, what really sets off Clare's garden is all the classy organic mulch rather than cheesy cheapo gravel. Another plus attributed to peonies is that deer don't eat them. Thank you, Clare.

  11. rwotzak 07/09/2013

    The whole garden is beautiful, but I love those stone raised beds!

  12. PeonyFan 07/09/2013

    Beautiful! Thank you.

  13. soilsister8 07/09/2013

    What a wonderful garden. Sarah Burnhardt has been one of my favorite peonies for years. You're inspiring me to plant a row of peonies because I have an ideal location. Thank you for sharing with us.

  14. GrannyMay 07/09/2013

    Clare, an enormous job to create and maintain such a garden, but totally worth it when you are rewarded with gorgeous results like your sweep of peonies! How DO you keep them so neat and upright?

  15. janetsfolly 07/09/2013

    This is just gorgeous! And all your stonework/terracing is very impressive. Thanks for a 'rewind' as peonies are long gone here, too. I can almost smell them!

  16. ClareRocky 07/09/2013

    Thank you so much for the wonderful feedback. It means a lot coming from people who truly appreciate gardening. Regarding the number of peony varieties... There are quite a few 'Festiva Maxima' (white with red flecks in center) and 'Kansas' (bright reddish pink) peonies since those are my favorites. Also 'Sarah Bernhardt', 'Monsieur Jules Elie' and 'Krinkled White'. Most of them (especially 'Festiva Maxima') have a magnificent scent and it is truly magical to step outside when they are in full bloom and take in the fragrance. In addition to being deer-resistant (which is important around here), I also love the fact that the peonies get bigger and more beautiful (with more blooms) each year. We've had these since 2005, so they really do put on quite a show. Regarding staking, we have tall metal cages around each plant that stay in place year 'round. Once the plants start growing, the peony foliage completely hides the cages. Here is a picture in early spring showing the cages:
    The cages help a lot in keeping the plants from flopping, but we also keep our fingers crossed that there is no heavy rain while the plants are in full bloom. The blooms are so big and heavy that the rain can cause them to break off over the top of the cages. Fortunately, this year the peonies were just past their prime when they heavy rains came.

  17. sheila_schultz 07/09/2013

    Clare, your gardens are simply beautiful, and like Tntreeman, I can almost smell the peonies.

  18. Zinnia1 07/09/2013

    What an absolutely gorgeous garden. I love the order and beauty of it all.

  19. jagardener 07/09/2013

    Wonderful! Gorgeous! Beautiful! I could go on . I reviewed the previous posts. Great reward for hard work. Here in my tropical zone I can only admire and 'envy'. Thanks for sharing.

  20. Nurserynotnordstroms 07/09/2013

    So beautiful. I wish I could grow them just for the fragrance. Alas my yard is to shady. But I can enjoy your beautiful pictures. Thank you so much for sharing them with us.
    Have a happy day!

  21. User avater
    meander_michaele 07/09/2013

    Clare, thanks for the link that shows the picture of your staking system. Over the years, I've tried different approaches...1)the elaborate round metal grid, 2)a system of stakes and string, 3)just preemptively cutting off an outer rim of buds and hoping the remaining stems will be a support buffer for heavy open blooms. As you know, the flopping problem really shows up when the rains are heavy and the wonderfully sumptuous flowers are too much for the stems to hold up. Certainly, based on the pictures you shared, your system works beautifully for your area.

  22. bee1nine 07/09/2013

    Hi Clare, Following in behind meander1 to thank you, too- for
    your secret staking method. I had a feeling you might have used metal cages of sorts! So glad your peonies produced such
    showstoppers for you this year and for all of us to see!!

  23. cwheat000 07/09/2013

    I love how neat everything looks and all those blooms are stunning. Thank you so much for posting your staking system. Peony rings are way too flimsy for big peonies that are fully established. Tomato cages are always way too small for late summer tomato plants. Small tomato cages are perfect for peonies; brilliant! Why didn't I think of that? For tomatoes, the only cage I have found that is actually the size of the plants is Texas Tomato cages ( up to 8 ft. and heavy galvanized steel). Texas Tomato cages have 2 ft. heavy steel extensions for their cages. They would be perfect for peonies. Tntreeman, sorry I missed your great pics yesterday. I think the new patio is coming together great and I love all your great personal touches. I always enjoy your creations. Your yard is fabulous, especially since, as you say, it is last on the list.

  24. dirtgirl1949 07/13/2013

    I never tire of seeing photos of your wonderful garden Clare.

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