I'm almost ashamed to admit it, but when we first bought our house, I almost threw away a 4-foot-tall tree peony. It was April and either it didn't bloom or we missed the blooms because all I saw as a wanna-be gardener was ugly black sticks coming out of the ground a some unremarkable leaves. It was planted--or should I say wedged-- in the corner created by a fence and the house. Even *I* in my extreme naiveness knew it was miserable in that location.
Lucky for me and the peony, I decided to give it another year. During that year, I read extensively and visited more and more gardens. I taught myself a lot about plants: growing them and keeping them alive. And, importantly, I didn't miss the bloom. That's right: Bloom. Singular. However, all it took was that one luscious bloom to make me realize I had something special.
That year also allowed me to really discover all the idiosyncrasies of my space. When you've got a small lot surrounded by trees and 2 story homes, you've got to really observe to find the little pockets of full sun. And, did I find a pocket! Half a foot in either direction, you've got dense shade from a fence and the neighbor's house. As an added bonus, I can view it from my kitchen window. Washing dishes is far more pleasant when you're staring at a peony.
These blooms were brought to you by cow shit, y'all!