I hereby redefine “Junuary”

According to the Urban Dictionary, Junuary is a word for those cold June days that feel extra-cold because it’s, well, June. Pshaw! I’m co-opting it.

Now, when it’s reeeeally cold, we need reminding that spring is a few (just a few, honest!) days away. We need Junuary more on a day like today: not January in June, but June in January. Think of it as a mental booster shot that lifts our spirits till temperatures begin to rise, too – and our gardens come back to life.

What better poster child for Junuary than peonies (Paeonia spp); big, blowsy, beautiful, and all too brief. I don’t pretend to know lots about peonies – my garden is too small, and too dry and shady, to grow them. But I know what I like, and I like these. After the slideshow, I’ll share info on how to grow them and where to catch their beauty.

The Canadian Peony Society has good info on everything from planting to cutting or drying herbaceous, intersectional and tree peonies.

We’re also hugely lucky in Toronto to be within a reasonable drive of three major peony collections. Put them on your to-see list:

  • West of the GTA, the Royal Botanical Gardens Laking Garden throws a huge bouquet of Iris and Clematis into the mix with its June peony display.
  • To our east, the Oshawa Valley Botanical Garden holds an annual June Peony Festival (June 9 & 10 in 2018), which we’ve written about before.
  • South of Brantford – and worth visiting for its conifer gardens alone – new botanical garden Whistling Gardens is also home to an enormous show of over 1,000 peony species and cultivars. The dedicated peony garden will be in its second year in 2018, so should be quite something.

And remember the January winter chill is part of the reason peonies do so well in our climate – and cool Junuary days in June help keep those glorious petals from dropping too quickly. We win both ways.

Hope your Junuary booster shot helped. Do you think we should rename those cold June days plain Jane?


    1. Thanks, Alison. Sorry, I wish I knew! These are mostly from a local garden tour last summer, Through the Garden Gate. No plant labels, unfortunately.

  1. Thanks for the “colour therapy”, Helen, to get us through a brutal 2 week stretch of cold weather over the holidays. You can post pictures of peonies anytime, imo, since nothing can outshine these divas when they bloom (all to briefly)!

    1. They are floral cream puffs and fireworks, aren’t they, Paul? I wish I could grow them, and if I did I think I’d go for the single, intersectional or Itoh peonies which are a little less likely to fall apart. I know there are also a couple of shade-tolerant peonies, which I might try if I had more space. Till then, I’ll admire them from afar.

  2. I had never seen so many peonies as when the Fling took us to the festival in Oshawa – it was amazing! I didn’t know about Whistling Gardens – they are relatively close so I’ll have to check them out this year…thanks!

    1. Yes, you should go to Whistling Gardens! I’ve seen it in September, but not during peony season. Maybe we can arrange a field trip, Margaret, with a side trip to the RBG.

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