A Half-Hearted Dabbler In Peonies
There are many people who love peonies, and I respect their point of view. I am not one of them, however. Judy is, though, and that’s why we have peonies in the garden.
As it is, we have four, all from Klehm’s Song Sparrow Farm in Illinois. There are three hybrids: ‘America’, ‘Abalone Pearl’, and a third whose name I can’t remember. There is also the species Paeonia anomala.
I don’t dislike peonies. I’m just not, well, all that impressed. Sure they can be beautiful for a brief period. But what about the other 51 weeks of the year?
And don’t tell me that I can combine peonies that bloom at different times to have several weeks of color. My point is, each individual plant is earning its keep for just a few days a year, maybe less if there’s a badly timed rainstorm. Otherwise they’re lying on the couch, playing video games, and eating potato chips.
Peonies with single blooms are what I like best, and all of the ones I planted are singles. The doubles do not appeal to me. Too fussy.
And peony foliage can be nice for a while, sure. P. anomala in particular has interesting ferny foliage. However, for me the foliage gets a bad case of downy mildew by the middle of the summer.
Also, these plants offer very little of value to birds, butterflies, or other critters.
I will say that I am surprised my peonies are doing as well as they are. The spot I put them in gets only part sun. And the mildew they had last season was so bad I wondered how strong they would be this spring. Despite this, they came back this year clean and green, with more stalks and flower buds. Despite appearances, they are tough plants.
So am I crazy? Or are there other people out there who don’t swoon over peonies?
You are too funny lol.. I love peonies. Although our climate doesn’t really permit me to grow them. I do see your point though. Especially the one about them being couch potatoes. The visual on that one is hilarious.
I love them, but just while their blooms are looking good.
Here I always thought of them as Divas, like Bette Midler, dolly Parton, or Whitney Houston…
I was thinking more of Scarlett O’Hara.
I adore them! I wait impatiently for them to flower every year, and swoon over their fragrance, photographing them to death! I bring them into the house to fill it with the scent of summer, and if there’s a heavy rainshower I admire the pretty petals dripping over the lawn. Sorry, but I’m smitten! 😉
Well, maybe my mistake was not getting fragrant ones.
You really do get little in return from a plant that takes up so much real estate. I’ve staked and tied enough peonies in other people’s gardens to know that I don’t need them here. I go to parks to smell them.
I don’t love them either, and like you Jason i wonder if there is something I’m not seeing …
Maybe it’s about whether or not you grew up in a garden with peonies.
You’re right on many points, they do take up more room in the garden than they offer in blooms BUT…. if I was a thimble-sized fairy there wouldn’t be any other flower I’d rather dive into, the perfume, all those fluffy layers, pure heaven!
OK, I’ll admit it’s a great flower for thimble-sized fairies.
I like them for their scent but finding the old varieties with gorgeous full blooms and scent are hard to do. I have to support mine and they are doing well even with all our rain but I don’t have many either.
I don’t feel the need to get rid of mine, I’m just not too enthused about them.
I love the flowers, and that pink one is lovely, but as you say they’re not much use for the pollinators.xxxx
‘\”I wouldn’t give them a lot of space, but I don’t mind having a few.
I’m with you – up to a point. I’m adore the flowers but doubt the peony would pass a cost – benefit analysis. My new plan is to cut them – all of them – as they start to bloom and bring them indoors. They look better in a vase than lying on the ground after a wind or rainstorm.
That sounds like a good plan.
Ants and wasps like them! The poor misunderstood insects of the world. I too like the singles the best. My only double was given to me as a gift, so I had to plant it.
OK, but I don’t think there’s a shortage of ants or wasps.
People have given me peony plants a couple of times. I came to know why they did it. In the garden here they are usually flat from rain. Really I associate peonies with bouquets in graveyards.But I kind of like the species one you show here– like an anemone.
I admit I like it too, at least while it’s blooming.
Come on, Jason. Lighten up on the peonies for the sake of your bride. I’m big into the intersectionals because they have axial buds for flower production. Try ‘Garden Treasure’ and then you’ll quit your moaning, to be sure.
OK, I’ll check it out. Until then I’m moaning as per my original schedule.
I’m with you Jason, I like seeing them in other peoples gardens but they don’t earn their keep, so I don’t have them. I’m lucky as if I get the urge to see peonies I have a place nearby with fields full of them, and that really is a sight. Christina
I can see them at the Botanical Garden, though their only in a couple of spots.
Well they make for beautiful photographs. If you’re going to have peonies, you have gorgeous ones. My mother liked peonies, she used to cut them and float them in water, I guess, they “lasted” a little longer that way. But I walk by enough of them on my way to work and they’re there one day and gone the next – I’m with you on that. For sure if I had them in my yard I might miss their blooms entirely. 🙂
Floating them in a bowl of water sounds nice, actually.
I love peonies – I swoon over peonies. They are worth all the staking for just a sniff of that fragrance. 🙂
Actually, I didn’t even know they could be fragrant. The ones I’ve seen have not been.
I’m another that disagrees Jason – I love peonies. Mainly because they remind me so much of my grandfather.
That said, where would the world be if we all like the same plants. It’s nice to see that Judy gets her way 😉
I stake very early in spring, less work when there is little else going on.
Ah, well, when a plant reminds us of a loved one, then it is beyond argument.
I have one peony, a very old double one and it is gorgeous, I can’t wait for it to flower every year, I don’t care much for the single ones. I have never been troubled by any disease on my peony so after flowering it is just a green bush until the frost arrive. Maybe you need to try a different variety, a more disease resistant one.
Could be … I’ve thought the trouble is they don’t get enough sun.
I like peonies and originally planted about 12 of them in my garden when I was able to buy the bare roots dirt cheap. But I’ve pulled them all out and kept a single Sarah Bernhardt. I had all the same complaints you do: mildewy foliage, no wildlife value, and they took up too much space. It was one of my better garden design decisions. I don’t miss them and am happy with my single plant. They’re one hit wonders. I need more than that!
Keeping one prevent you from feeling deprived during their bloom season, I guess that’s how I feel.
I am crazier than you Jason, i know peonies are temperate climate plants, but i still tried to plant it here in the tropics. Do you know what happened? Of course you know what happened, as you know peonies very well, haha!
Oh, well at least you tried. But there are so many gorgeous tropical plants.
I’m with you, and since I have no mate to cater to, I dug mine up this year and gave them away. At least they went to good homes.
Glad to hear they went where they will be loved.
What makes me swoon over peonies is their scent; I can’t see any point in planting a peony that isn’t very fragrant. When my friend Joyce offered me one from her garden, I went around sniffing them all before I made my choice! It probably helps to be growing them in a cooler climate than yours where the flowers last more than 15 minutes.
I also have a weakness for fragrant plants.
I agree that their blooms could last longer, but they get so big and their flowers are so impressive!! And I for one love their foliage. So they get my vote for sure. SORRY! 🙂 and you’ve seen my bouquet. 🙂
I do love them in other people’s gardens. I feel the same way about magnolias.