Peonies are pretty irresistable, they’re romantic and sensual with a hint of old fashoined nostalgia.
The beautiful flowers range through soft pink, white, scarlet and deep purple but I think it’s the shape of the flowers that is the real attraction.
Choose either frilly double ones or single ones whose petals are arranged to form a cup that contains a a group of golden stamens.
They have a reputation for not being easy to grow, but given the right conditions they’ll reliably produce beautiful flowers year after year.
These are some of my favourites:
Peony Dr Alexander Fleming
with soft pink, sweetly scented frilly flowers:
has white flowers with a pink tinge to their edge:
Peony Clare de Lune
I like to include these more simple flowering types, not only are they lovely but bees can get to the centre of the flower more easily:
All peonies need sunshine and a rich soil that doesn’t get waterlogged, add lots of rich compost to the planting hole to give them the best possible home.
Planting too deep is one of the reasons that they don’t flower well, so make sure the top of the root is only 3-5cm below the surface.
The flowering period is fleeting, lasting 2-3 weeks, but they’re quite handsome plants in their own right.
Tempting though it will be, resist cutting too many flowers in the first two years and the plants will be much stronger.
Peony x Lemoinei Souvenier de Maxine Cornu
This exotic flower belongs to a tree peony.
It’s not really not a tree at all, but taller than it’s cousins the herbaceous peonies and averaging about 6 feet/2 metres high.
It likes the same conditions as the herbaceous peonies, but takes 2 -3 years to settle in and start flowering, patience will be rewarded by a stunning plant.
Specialist nurseries are the best places to buy these plants, get them as bare-root plants in the autumn or in plant pots in spring.
Kelways are a well established nursery with a good range of plants.
all images: Jill Anderson