|From the simple and petit beauty of the wild, botanical peony species, to the huge double blooms of the modern intersectional hybrids the thrill of growing peonies begins from the first leaf that breaks through the ground in the early spring. The bloom season often begins with some of the species blooming early enough to have late snow on the blooms. Then in the fall many peonies provide colorful foliage. |
With over 600 varieties of named peonies and twice that number of seedlings we have the chance to compare plant habits, fragrance and cut flower qualities. We love to bring the cut peony flowers indoors and enjoy them in a vase as just one more part of growing peonies that brings us joy.
Many times we are asked what our favorite peonies are and that is as hard as picking your favorite child. For us growing new peonies from seed may mean a new favorite is just a bloom away. It also depends on what characteristic we are using to judge a peony as our favorite. The various qualities you might use to pick a favorite include; color, fragrance, strong stems, foliage shape, shape of the bush, flower form or season of bloom.
When it comes to peony colors gardeners who are unfamiliar with modern peonies are just shocked to see the coral, yellow and vibrant true reds of the hybrids. Pink Hawaiian Coral is a great garden plant and not only has an Award of Landscape Merit to it's credit but also the top honor of the American Peony Societies Gold Medal, and to top it all off it is the only fragrant coral peony yet. The new intersectional hybrids like Bartzella, Prairie Charm and Garden Treasure are unsurpased when it comes to bright yellow flowers. The exotic color patterns found in some of the hybrids and tree peonies is unbelievable. Just take a look at Athena or Maxcine Wolfe.
For fragrance it is ok to use the lists as a guide but here it is best to trust your own nose as some people who love the heady strong fragrance of some peonies others find too overpowering. Most people find those peonies listed as moderately fragrant to be perfect to enjoy in a bouquet without it being too strong. Our favorites include; Chestine Gowdy, Diana Parks and Myrtle Gentry.
For strong stems that don't fall down when the peony is in bloom the American Peony Society now makes it easy to identify them by giving the Award of Landscape Merit to those peonies that perform excellently in a garden setting. Some favorites include: the vibrant red hybrid Burma Ruby and the heavy blooming Krinkled White for pure and simple elegance.
Foliage forms are brought front and center with the compact growing Fern Leaf Peony and its vigorously growing and Gold Medal and Award of Landscape Merit awarded offspring Early Scout.
Since peonies as a group have about 7 weeks of bloom depending on your variety choice knowing what blooms early or late is important. The species are the first to bloom and followed closely by the tree peonies and then the hybrids and single forms of the garden peony and then Japanese forms followed by double reds and pinks and the season typically ends with the late blooming double white peonies.