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Forcing Peonies in Winter for Chinese New Years

In Chinese, chun jie, the word for the traditional lunar new year, means “spring festival.” Though it is still very much winter in northern and central China, the new year heralds the slow awakening of spring. Traditionally the holiday is celebrated by families with mountains of dumplings, and large arsenals of fireworks. Another tradition is ‘forcing’ tree peonies to bloom in time for the New Year. In China, tree peonies represent prosperity and achievement as well as tokens of love. A blooming tree peony not only injects some much needed color into the winter days, but is also a wish for good fortune in the new year. Forcing tree peonies to bloom in the winter is done by potting up...

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Raspberry Meringue Cocktail Recipe

In July we took several quarts of fresh 'Taylor' red raspberries and combined them with one liter of good quality rye vodka in a 1/2 gallon glass 'growler.' We were immediately mesmerized by the ruby red color of the liquid. We recently strained out the fruit and gave the raspberry infused vodka to a good friend who was inspired to create the following drink.  Raspberry Meringue Cocktail 2 oz. raspberry vodka 1 oz. lemon juice 1/2 oz. simple syrup 1 egg white Shake for 30 seconds with ice, strain, and then scoop foam out with a spoon. Garnish with and mint leaf.

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Mid-Summer at Cricket Hill Garden 2016

It’s been hot, hot, hot and dry, dry, dry here in northwestern Connecticut. Despite the lack of rain, this being New England, it’s still very humid. While we are wilting in this weather, the plants, particularly the vegetables, love it–so long as we can manage to give them lots of supplemental irrigation. It’s time like this, that we feel fortunate to grow peonies as our main crop. As anyone who grows these plants knows, they are heat and drought resistant. Here’s a look at what we’ve been up at the nursery the last few weeks. In July, the garden is a buzzing all-you-can-eat buffet for the butterflies and bees. Our veggie garden is looking great this year. Mulching for weed...

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Early Summer Update

A quick look at what we and the garden have been up to the last few weeks at Cricket Hill. Getting a new nursery area ready for all planting. Note the rock piles…. A view of our newly cleared 4 acre plot. We can sure fit a lot of tree peonies in here. ‘Viking’ aronia berries starting to show some color. ‘Prolific’ pawpaw grafted in 2012. Our kitchen garden. First peony seeds of the season are ripe, from the species Paeonia anomala.  Tree peony seeds are still six weeks away from being ripe. Garlic is pulled and set out to dry. Some of our figs. These can be shipped now, during the summer. ‘Haschberg’ European elderberry starting to size up. ‘Adams,’...

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Late Season Peonies 2016

The peony bloom continues at Cricket Hill Garden. As we enter week 5, all tree peonies but one have finished blooming, while the late season herbaceous peoniesand a few cultivars of the hybrid intersectional or ‘Itoh’ peonies are still looking very good. Overall, this has been a good spring for blooms, though the very hot weather we had two weeks ago sped up the latter half of the season. Compared with last year, we are about a week ahead in terms of bloom timing. By next week, the first week of summer, most peony petals will have fallen, leaving us the memories of spring flowers and the anticipation of a new summer’s bounty. In the past few years here at...

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