Amy Peonies

The Garden Journal

May 2023

May Workshops

Transplant Class

Thursday, May 4

Saturday, May 6


Complimentary Class:

Registration is required.



Registration closes April 20

No pets allowed

Smoking of any kind is strictly prohibited on our property.


Garden Shop Hours*:

May 4 10-4

May 6 10-4

May 13 10-4

*Please stay tuned for Spring opening

Visit us at:

May: Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring

“The world’s favorite season is the Spring. All things seem possible in May.” ~ Edwin Way Teale

Good Things Take Time

I saw this on the cover of the Spring 2023 Magnolia Journal at the newsstand. We are neck deep in moving plants from one part of the farm in our Cutting Garden to our newly built Wedding and Vista Gardens. It seems like each part of this project we tackle has its own share of problem-solving, challenges, and beauty. Yes, even beauty.

If I don’t take time at each step to reflect on where we started, and how far we’ve come, and also how precious and beautiful each stage is in its own way, I would take for granted the gift of being a part of this process.

Building a garden from scratch is not for the faint of heart. It has tested my resolve and patience in ways I didn’t know were possible. But it has also made me appreciate the unique gifts and talents each contributor brings to the table. From the skilled craftsmen and builders, to the fine folks caring for the nursery stock that we procure, to our own team members who treat each tree and plant that goes into the ground like it’s a newborn baby, we have a wonderful team of people behind us. It is truly a gift to have a front row seat, and get to watch this garden grow. Though, I do much more walking than sitting.

It’s this process that keeps me grounded - there is absolutely no rushing nature. When I see grand estates, or mature gardens, it’s easy to get lost in the grandeur of the immediate moment. Also easy, because time has erased the pain of all the work that went into making that moment in time, nor was I a part of that process.

I cannot wait to share these new spaces with you - and they will just get better and better over time. What an exciting thing to look forward to…

Nature Series: Amphibians

Why Frogs?

For the past 2 years, gardener Kayla has been volunteering time with Northwest Trek conducting amphibian egg mass surveys. This is part of a larger monitoring program led by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to keep an eye on amphibian populations in Pierce and Thurston counties, with special attention on the endangered Oregon Spotted Frog and the potentially endangered Western Toad.

But why amphibians? Many of these species (which includes frogs, toads, salamanders and newts) are considered “indicator species”; they indicate the overall health of a habitat. For many of them, their eggs and tadpoles require clean, freshwater habitats. The adults have permeable skin and are particularly sensitive to toxins present in the landscape as well. A wetland space devoid of amphibians could potentially be contaminated from runoff or have invasive species present that are degrading the habitat in some manner. Habitat loss has been extensive for amphibians, particularly proper habitats for egg-laying, so any remaining wetlands are critically important to the survival of these animals. Conducting egg mass surveys in still, freshwater sites around the county can give WDFW an idea of the status of their populations, and help inform future conservation decisions.

NW Trek facilitates multiple community science projects, check their website for training days and more info!


All dahlia orders have been shipped, and will continue to ship as they are processed, but our final date for dahlia orders on our website is May 10th, as will not be holding any stock past mid-May. You have one more opportunity to shop our dahlias in person, in the Garden Shop. Dates are posted below - we will keep them in the shop through the Mother’s Day Sale on May 13th, and that’s it for 2023.

Our final day for planting dahlias outdoors in our Gardens (in the PNW, Zone 8a) is May 15th. We aim for May 1st, and usually succeed, but the goal is to have all dahlias planted by May 15th. In our geographical location, it is tough to get a full bloom cycle, and vigorous tuber growth set for storage if dahlias are planted too late. Not impossible, but it does stack the deck against you. They really need that time photosynthesizing to feed those tubers all the carbohydrates they need for storage. Later planting of tubers delays onset of growth…and onset of storage capacity.

Weed Control vs.

Weed Management

“Never let a weed grow past Sunday”

You’ve got a handle on those weeds, right??!!

This mantra was shared by an English chap whose garden our group was in awe of, for its beauty, plant selections, and how pristine and weed-free it was. He scoffed at us, as no gardener ever since the dawn of time thinks their garden is weed-free, and told us his ‘secret’ for managing weeds. You ready?

  1. Cover the soil with plants.
  2. Never let a weed grow past Sunday.

Smaller weeds are easier to manage than larger weeds. Smaller weeds haven’t gone to seed yet. Smaller weeds don’t cause the same amount of soil disturbance (you’ve heard me say it before, and I’ll say it over, and over, and over…) when you remove them. Like us, this gardener was chemical-free. Seriously, who wants to be around that stuff?

When you visit us, you will likely see weeds. Please remember that we are managing a large space, with a small team, and we are doing the best that we can with the resources we have. A good thing to keep in mind when soliciting most small businesses these days. What does this have to do with weeds? Pointing out our weeds that we already know we have - not helpful. Telling our team good job for making a beautiful space for people to come and enjoy - we love that! Asking us what weeds we leave and for what reason - you’ll likely learn something. Seriously though, all gardens will always have weeds.

Transplant Class

We are offering the opportunity to join us in the garden, as we put hundreds of plants into the ground, beds, and gardens. The focus is on best practices for transplanting all different size and types of plants for best results. The class will be hosted on Thursday, May 4, and Saturday, May 6, at 10:00am on both days, no matter the weather. This class is complimentary to attend, but does require registration as we are limiting participation for space. Please email us directly at with your name and the number in your party. We will send a confirmation email once you are registered.

Peony Festival

We will have more info on our popular Peony events in May, when we have a better idea of when peony blooms will show up. Typical range is mid-May through mid-June. We are planning to host a light tea, with a reserved table, garden visits and more in the works for future events. I will send out an additional mailing this month with all things Peony, as we simply don’t know at this point in time when the best opportunity to see the bulk of the field in flower will be.

Our goal is to always have you witness the most varieties in bloom at once. It’s tough, as we have early, mid, and late season varieties, so it’s not an exact science, nor is it ever fool-proof when dealing with Mother Nature. We’ve had bloom cycles last as long as an 8-week window, down to one year when our whole field blew open and was done in only 2 weeks. It was hot.

Thank you for keeping an open mind, and an open schedule to be prepared to come visit us - this is one of the only times we will be opening our Gardens to the public this year, so we look forward to hosting you and having you see all the progress and projects we’ve been hard at work on.

Our separate mailing will have all the information you need, including dates, times, tickets, fees, etc. As always, I encourage our subscribers to read the information first, then email if you have further questions not covered.

Here’s a brief stroll through our blooming Peony fields, filmed on a beautiful spring day in 2022:

The Garden Shop

The Garden Shop will be open on days we have workshops scheduled, to allow class attendees as well as anyone wishing to stop by the opportunity to visit with us.

Please kindly remember that when our Garden Shop is open, our Gardens are still closed to the general public unless announced, and a ticket is always required to enter. Those who attend our workshops are allowed access to the Gardens for the duration of the class. If you are interested in seeing the progress of our Garden spaces, we encourage you to enroll in one of our available classes. Ticket links are above.

Garden Shop Dates/Hours

Thursday, May 4 10-4 (Transplant Class)

Saturday, May 6 10-4 (Transplant Class)

Saturday, May 13 10-4 Mother’s Day!

Peony Events - To be determined, stay tuned

Garden Tasks

  • Start planting out summer bedding plants, once it is warm enough.
  • Look after finished spring bulbs. Once done, resist any temptation to cut back foliage. Let it die down on its own, and add liquid fertilizer or bulb feed around the clumps for an even better display next year.
  • Open Greenhouse vents/doors on warm days. This will lower temps and deter red spider mites.
  • Look at watering regime, and consider ways to optimize and conserve water for the warmer months ahead.
  • Harden off half-hardy and tender annuals for planting.
  • Divide established clumps of hostas as they come into growth.
  • Trim back spreading plants, like alyssum and candytuft, after flowering, to encourage new growth and blooms.
  • Keep an eye out for powdery mildew on flowering shrubs and flowers. Treat accordingly.
  • Lift forget-me-nots to prevent heavy self-seeding and reduce spreading. Or, leave like we do!
  • Prune back Penstemons now - cut all old shoots to the base only if there is new growth. If no new growth, cut back to lowest set of leaves.
  • Lightly cut back and clean-up late-flowering honeysuckle. Leave all big pruning jobs until winter.
  • Take cuttings of tender perennials like fuchsia and pelargonium. New shoots of hardy perennials can also be rooted in.
  • Tie in rambling and climbing roses. Horizontal stems will produce more flowers.
  • Tie in sweet peas to encourage climbing.
  • Prune spring-flowering shrubs (such as lilac) after flowering.
  • Feed and water container plants. Top dress permanent pot plants to refresh the compost.
  • Continue to weed beds and borders, to eliminate competition for water, nutrients and light.
  • Sign up for Laughing Goat classes!

Upcoming Events


    • May Day - May 1 🌸
    • Garden Meditation Day - May 3 🌳
    • Bird Day - May 4 🦅
    • Transplant Class - May 4
    • Cinco de Mayo - May 5 🌮
    • Transplant Class - May 6
    • Herb Day - May 6 🪴
    • Northwest Perennial Alliance Plant Sale, Bellevue Botanic Garden - May 7
    • Iris Day - May 8
    • Tacoma Garden Club Flower Show - May 12-13
    • Garden Shop Open for Mother’s Day - May 13
    • Mother’s Day - May 14  🤰🏻
    • Lilac Sunday - May 14
    • Love a Tree Day - May 16 🌲
    • National Endangered Species Day - May 19 🦍🦧🐘🦏🐅🐆🦖
    • Pick Strawberries Day - May 20 🍓
    • World Turtle Day - May 23 🐢
    • National Wine Day - May 25 🍷
    • Learn about Composting Day - May 29
    • Water a Flower Day - May 30 🌷
    • Beltane - April 30-May 1
  • Transplant Class - May 4 & 6, 2023
  • Peony Events - TBD May/June
  • Peony Stroll: General Admission, tickets in Garden Shop
  • Peony Tea: By reservation only, dates TBD
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