Three popular types of peonies include the “scrumdiddlyumptious” (left), the Julia Rose (upper right) and the Lady Alexander Duff (bottom right). Photos submitted.

SPRING IN THE GARDEN – Colourful peonies an asset to any garden

Ellen Presley

Special to The Record

The peony is a classic garden plant that adds a bit of nostalgia and charm to the garden. This stunningly beautiful plant has been revered for thousands of years and symbolizes romance, prosperity, good fortune, and a happy marriage. Prized for their large colourful and often fragrant blooms, they make excellent cut flowers and are often featured in paintings.

The three types of peonies are the herbaceous, the tree peony, and the Itoh series. They are all deer- and rabbit-resistant, drought-tolerant once established, and will attract butterflies to your garden. Give them a sunny spot with good drainage.

Herbaceous peonies are low maintenance, can live 50 to 100 years, die back to the ground each winter and re-emerge in the spring. Their large blooms often need staking or a support ring to hold them up. There are hundreds of cultivars and the colors and blooms are stupendous.

Two award-winning ladies are ‘Sarah Bernhardt,’ which is a wonderful beloved peony with large double rose-pink blossoms whose inner ruffled petals are occasionally flecked with raspberry pink, and ‘Lady Alexander Duff,’ which is an heirloom variety introduced in 1902. Starting with deep pink buds that open into huge rose-shaped blooms of pale pink ruffled petals. Both are lush, outrageously gorgeous and feminine.

The best double deep red peony is the award-winning ‘Red Charm,’ which is a magnificent ruffled bomb-type merlot red with a sweet, spicy fragrance. The blooms start early in the season and last seemingly forever in the garden – definitely a show stopper.

Tree peonies are slow-growing woody shrubs that can reach 4-10 feet, have larger blooms than their herbaceous counterpart, and need less sun. They will bloom longer and do not require staking. The lovely lavender ‘Kamata nishiki’ is always a favorite.

In 1948, Dr. Toichi Itoh successfully crossbred an herbaceous peony and a tree peony producing the Itoh peony which has the leaves and flowers of a tree peony but die back to the ground in the fall like an herbaceous plant. These plants have longer lasting giant blooms, sturdy stems that don’t need staking and are prolific bloomers (often getting a second set of blooms). Shorter than tree peonies, they grow three by four feet and are fabulous as a cut flower.

The stunning ‘Julia Rose’ showcases a mix of single to semi-double blooms which bud as a cherry red, then open to orange and apricot with a delicate purple flushed edge and then fades to yellow. And new for us this year, is ‘Scrumdiddlyumptious’ which has large, subtly fragrant semi-double creamy yellow blooms with a pink blush. I love the name and it promises to be a beauty.

I came across a charming story, wherein a fellow was having a dinner party and gave a peony blossom to one of his guests, in the hopes of igniting romance between them. Apparently, it worked, as the lady soon became his wife and their love for each other and peonies grew.

Now, I can’t promise that peonies will ignite the romance in your life, but it’s worth a try. Happy gardening!

Ellen Presley is the owner of Anderton Nursery

gardening

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Residents want City of Courtenay to move proposed trail route

City says route closer to the shoreline poses number of problems

Comox Valley RCMP looking for missing woman

Ami Guthrie was last seen in Courtenay in early July

Conservation officers relocate Spirit bear known to roam northwestern B.C.

Bear roamed valley north of Terrace for many years

Comox Valley Regional District awarded poverty reduction strategy grant

The Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD), in partnership with the City of… Continue reading

CVRD office and meetings re-opening to public

The office has been closed to the public since March 17 to help limit the spread of the coronavirus

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

NHL’s Canadian hubs offer little economic benefit, but morale boost is valuable: experts

Games are slated to start Aug. 1 with six Canadian teams qualifying for the 24-team resumption of play

‘Made in the Cowichan Valley’ coming to a wine bottle near you

Cowichan Valley has the honour of being the first sub-GI outside of the Okanagan

VIDEO: Vancouver Island cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning in East Kootenay lake

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Vancouver Island business ad unintentionally features OK gesture linked to white supremacy

Innocuous ‘OK’ gesture in cleaning franchise advertisement gets flak on social media for ‘supposedly’ promoting white supremacy

Minivan driver’s speed a factor in fatal 2018 Malahat crash

Driver was travelling at 110 km/h in a construction zone

Conservationists raise concerns over state of care for grizzly cubs transferred to B.C. zoo

‘Let them be assessed now before their fate is sealed,’ urges B.C. conservationist Barb Murray

Most Read