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I think the temperament of perennial and woody growers differs from the temperament of those who grow annuals. For the moment let us leave out those who grow both. Annuals provide a lot of production and a lot of color. The annual grower can and does adapt to the ever-changing taste in the market.

We do not grow annuals on our farm because we do not have a reliable source of water and because the only part of growing annuals that I like is the when the seedbed is newly prepared. I like the reassurance of the same plants returning every year and dislike having to guess the market. The closest we come to growing annuals is our tulip crop. We order our bulbs in the summer, plant in the fall, and sell them the following spring. But even here it is difficult for us to predict the market. We normally plant 50% white on our French tulips. This year that was the correct mix, but two years ago, the market treated white as just another color. I have many customers who order a case of each color. If we have four colors, we get an order for 800 stems (20 bunches/case). If we have eight colors, we get an order for 1600 stems. When white is in favor, the number of whites ordered is easily half of most orders plus many wedding orders are exclusively for white. It’s expensive to us when we get the mix wrong.

The taste in peonies changes but the changes are slow to affect the market. Reds used to be hard to sell but now are easy. This has both to do with changing tastes and to improvements in red varieties. ‘Karl Rosenfeld’, a dog of a peony (forgive me Karl, wherever you are), was a production peony and for a long time defined red in the market. Now, with the advent of ‘Kansas’ (a definite improvement but not great) and peonies like ‘Red

Charm’, ‘Henry Bockstoce’, and ‘Heritage’, reds have become a high demand item. Coral peonies (‘Coral Charm’, ‘Pink Hawaiian Coral’, and ‘Coral Sunset’) have always been popular on the coasts but now are in high demand throughout the country. Divisions are pricey but bunches generally sell with at least a 35% premium over prevailing peony prices.

We finally decided to join the new century and put up our website. My daughter-in-law designed it (her first effort in what looks like a great career for her). We have gotten many compliments. Check it out at thirdbranch.com

Don’t forget to mark the Northeast Regional Meeting on your calendar—July 27-28 (described elsewhere in this issue of the Quarterly). Hope to see you there.