Peonies poppin’ on Pioneer

It’s July and the peonies on Pioneer Avenue are popping. Did you see those huge crimson buds on the corner by Cosmic Kitchen? Big fluffy blooms from WKFL Park all the way down to the Homer Council on the Arts.

Interestingly, the last two years were a bit of a disappointment for some peony growers. The peony worldwide usually blooms in early summer, but here it blooms in July and August so Alaskan peony growers have the corner on the flower market when no one else in the world has peonies.

Which is why warm winters and summers like the last couple of years didn’t actually help peony growers at all. Their peonies wanted to bloom closer to when the rest of the world was already filling the market. What a relief to see peonies blooming in July.

And what a relief it would be if that was the only complication that peony farmers faced.

But as we see on Pioneer, when peonies come on, they come on in droves. Now imagine that you have a field with a thousand or more of these precious plants laden with buds.

You need to train your field workers to know exactly how to identify that critical moment for each variety of peony. The field workers will need to know how to cut and quickly cool each stem to preserve it in bud stage for shipping worldwide so it is ready to open beautifully at the flower shop or wedding it is destined for.

Wait, what field workers?

Yes, this is where we need tons of workers skilled in the art of peony cutting. Since that doesn’t exist, it becomes the challenge of each peony grower to find help. (If you are looking for a summer stint in a peony field, contact Homer Soil and Water at 235-8177. ext. 5)

Luckily for the rest of us, surplus peonies are sold here locally. One of the best local outlets will be the Homer Farmers Market out on Ocean Drive Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. or Wednesdays from 2-5 pm. Get ready to start loading your house with the aroma and color of these local delights.

Kyra Wagner is the coordinator of Sustainable Homer and the Homer Farmers Market’s biggest fan.