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Learning the garden lingo

Codey Asked

My boyfriend’s mother recently passed away and even though she’s gone, I’m trying to keep the different flowers alive and healthy with the Garden Peonies being the most important. I’ve done research but when it comes to the care/maintenance, I’m not real sure what they mean. For example, what do you mean when you tell someone to cut back X inches? How is that done correctly? Any gardening knowledge input would be greatly appreciated!

The Gardener’s Answer

Hi, Codey: I am sorry for your loss. Caring for a garden that was planted by a loved one is a wonderful way to keep their memory alive. I am sure that your boyfriend and his family appreciate your kindness. Gardening lingo can be confusing. The good news is that there is a lot of research-based information out there for home gardeners. The Pulaski county Cooperative Extension Service will be a great local resource for you. The Horticulture Agent can provide you with advice and publications on all things related to gardening. As far as pruning or cutting back to an x number of inches, this means to start at the top of the stem /branch, and measure that far back before making a cut with your gardening shears or pruners. Peonies like the one in the photo that you sent are herbaceous perennials. They should be cut back later in the fall after the foliage has turned yellow/brown. They will not bloom all growing season, but it is essential for the foliage to collect energy for next year’s blooms. Cutting back the foliage too early will prevent future blooms. For now, enjoy the garden and reach out to the Horticulture Agent for resources that will help you keep her garden healthy. I hope that you find as much joy taking care of her garden as she once did.
Angie Oakley
Kentucky Living-Ask the Gardener

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