Garden Catalog Review: Klehm’s Song Sparrow Farm and Nursery
Klehm’s Song Sparrow Farm began in 1852 as a nursery for fruit trees, and has been in the same family ever since. Charles Klehm, a lover of peonies and charter member of the American Peony Society (founded 1903), shifted the emphasis to ornamental plants. Their website is here.
Klehm’s, currently located in southern Wisconsin, offers a wide variety of perennial and woody plants, They specialize, however, in Peonies, Clematis, Daylilies, and Hosta. The Klehms have been skilled hybridizers of Peonies and Daylilies for multiple generations.
At first I was not a big Peony enthusiast, I planted them mainly to please Judy. They have grown on me, however. All of my Peonies come from Klehm’s. In the 2015 catalog I was captivated by a new Klehm’s introduciton, ‘Pearled Lemon Cream’, a single early hybrid. In all, Klehm’s offers about 125 varieties of Peonies and Tree Peonies.
Among the new Daylilies, I was attracted to another Klehm hybrid, ‘Priceless Gold Strike’, an early to mid-season bloomer that grows about 3′ tall.
Another plant that caught my eye was a new compact variety of Helenium autumnale, ‘Short’n’Sassy’ – just 18-22″ tall. Don’t think I have seen this one before.
Klehm’s is not cheap, but I can attest to the fact that their plants are healthy and substantial – generally two to four years old. Plus their catalog is very satisfying, with luscious photos and understated but engaging text. I confess that I do not know their policy on the use of neonicotinoids and other pesticides.
And now to change the subject for a moment. I am told by WordPress that I have published 500 posts since I started Garden In A City three years ago. This does seem like a significant milestone. I hope the next 500 are just as much fun, and I am grateful to all of you who read and comment on what is written here..
Do you have a favorite source for Peonies?
That “Pearled Lemon Cream” is REALLY beautiful. And, YEA! for achieving the 500 post milestone!
Congratulations on 500 posts! I admire Peonies so much, but with acidic soil, I would have to keep adding lime, and so I haven’t yet caught the ‘bug’ – but there is a great little (think small backyard size) nursery a couple of towns away called the Bay Tree that has a wonderful selection for when I do finally succumb :-).
I didn’t know peonies prefer alkaline soil. In that case, I’m in luck.
The name of this Nursery is wonderful. I finally removed two Sarah Bernhardt peonies last year after they progressively flowered less and less. I’ve just read Matt’s comment about lime and googled that, my soil is acidic! Well I know now. Congratulations on your 500th post Jason, heres to many many more too!
Thanks, Julie! Sorry to hear about Sarah Bernhardt. We have alkaline soil here, not always such an advantage, but good for peonies.
Congratulations Jason, 500 is certainly a milestone worth of marking! I don’t grow peonies, mine like Julie’s performed worse each year, probably because my soil isn’t alkaline, I didn’t know that before. I also removed mine. There is a wonderful peony farm nearby so I can get my fix there each year!
I have only a few peonies, just eight. I don’t think I’ll ever have a big collection.
Congratulations on your 500th post Jason! I have recently read a long article about yellow peonies and am considering splashing out on one called P. mlokosewitschii ( which looks like the one you have picked out) or P. lutea ‘High Noon’. I buy most of my plants online, from a regional nursery where all their plants are tried and tested for our climate, which is very helpful as most other nurseries here stock plants from northern Germany or Holland which are often not hardy enough.
Peony mlokosewitschii! You might have to get that for the name alone!
I would have to order it online as I would never be able to ask for it at the nursery… how on earth is it pronounced?!
Congratulations on your 500 posts. You were my introduction to gardening blogs and I always enjoy and learn from what you write.
Am familiar with Klehm’s, but have to admit that most of my peonies have been established in the gardens where I’ve lived, they’ve probably been there for generations. I like them all!
You’re lucky to have well-established peonies. From what I’ve seen, they usually improve with age. Glad you enjoy the blog.
Great info and congrats on your 500th post. I love peonies. When we moved to this old farmstead, there was a white peony in front of the barn. I dug it up, divided it, and shared it around in other gardening sections including its original spot. I feel some kind of connection to previous owners when I see those beautiful white blooms. 🙂
That sounds wonderful. All of my peonies are fairly new, so I’ve never tried dividing them.
I have a lot of peonies, most of which came originally from my grandmother’s garden via an aunt’s garden. of course, I don’t know their names, but they seem to be flourishing. A special atta-boy for your 500 posts. That’s quite an achievement. Well done.
Thank you, John!
Far out, Jason! How I admire your commitment. One of the things I like most about your blog is the sense that you’re always learning. A fine attribute in both a gardener and a writer.
Thanks for the compliment!
Goodness me! 500 posts? Wow…that’s some going, here’s to the next 500!
Oh….I simply adore Pearled Lemon Cream, you’ll HAVE to get that so I can enjoy future posts on it.xxx
Unfortunately, I’m not ordering Pearled Lemon Cream, but it did catch my eye.
Since I spent a large part of my life as a gardener staking peonies for others I don’t do peonies in my own yard, but I do like the look of pearled lemon cream. The shorter Helenium sounds interesting too.
Congratulations on 500 posts!
I use those hoops and I install them early so they stems grow through them.
Woo hoo for you! 500 is a lot! I’ve never ordered from Klehm’s. I had a ton of peonies but ripped them all out except for one. The foliage was mildewy by mid-summer and I wanted more room for plants that attracted pollinators. But I do love the peony I have.
That’s one reason I don’t plant lots, the other is the short bloom period.
I should really write to them about the neonicotinoids.
I sent out very short emails to all the companies I couldn’t reach by phone when I was creating my list and everybody was very responsive. It would be good to know their policies.
Jason, congratulations on 500 posts. In the short time I have been blogging, I have enjoyed following you and reading your posts. Peonies are on my garden radar but I have not planted them here yet (too many other projects are taking priority). I had them in the old house and in my first home in Palatine, IL, my backyard was separated from my neighbors by a long row of peonies. They were lovely and I think of them still and remember fondly how my neighbor and I visited over the peonies.
That row of peonies must have been heavenly when they were all in bloom.
Congratulations Jason. Keep it up–I really enjoy your blog. I only tried peonies in the last several years and now really admire them. They’re unpredictable though. One year we had lots of rain and they were just a sopping mess, another year they were luscious. Hoping for another good year. Pearled Lemon Cream looks like a winner. One thing I don’t like about them is the bold yellow center, especially on pink or red flowers, so buying a yellow peony would be a good choice.
I like white and yellow peonies best.
Congrats on your 500th post Jason!
Nice farm catalog and sure you will be attracted to some more plants. Love day lilies, good choice!
Thank you, Nadezda!
Congratulation on your 500th post. I really enjoy reading your blog. I have lots of peonies. Some bought without names, so that will be interesting to see, and some I know. We have a good garden center near us, so I can often get a good deal there, I like you choices. I know you love yellow.
Thank you, Gitte, I’m so glad you enjoy my blog, I enjoy yours as well. It’s nice to see what is the same and different in Denmark.
Congratulations! Here’s to the next 500 🙂
Song Sparrow is one of those top notch nurseries which I treat myself to every now and then. Some of the best plants available and they are worth the higher price. Their catalog is practically a coffee table book it’s so nice.
I agree. The catalog is beautiful and you get quality for the money.
Klehm’s is one of the most drool-worthy catalogs, and I always want to own their peonies. Then I remind myself just how fleeting that flower is in our warm springs. Go away on the wrong weekend and you miss the show.
That is a problem with peonies – but other blooms as well, such as crabapples.
Wow – congrats on your 500th post! That’s quite an achievement – especially in only three years! I love leafing throughout the Klehm’s catalog – they have some really beautiful things! I know there is a well renowned Peony grower here in Oregon, but I forget his name. I usually see him at the Lan Su Garden Plant Sale. I only have one Peony in my garden – it is an orange Itoh called ‘Kopper Kettle’.
Ooh, an orange peony. That sounds nice.
Congratulations on your 500th. Here in Ontario several of our best mail order nurseries have closed this year. It must be a difficult time for them. Ferncliff Gardens in B.C. has some good peonies but I have never ordered from them – for a stupid reason: They only ship in the fall and somehow my mind does not seem in the ordering mood at that time of the year!!! I would like to get “Sword Dance”. A neighbor has it and it is just spectacular.
I hate to hear about independent nurseries closing. I like to order in fall, because I get too impatient about ordering in spring!
I’ve never ordered from Klehm’s, but enjoy looking through their catalog. I’m too much of a cheapskate to spend much on peonies, so the few I have are mostly starts I got from friends. I am a daylily addict, though; I had better not look at their daylilies, or I might spend my whole garden budget in one place:)
They do have some nice daylilies, though I usually order mine from Oakes Daylilies in Tennessee.
And congratulations on your 500th post! That is quite an accomplishment!
Congrats on 500 posts. I am sure you will have fun on the next 500. I am at 800, so I am sure you are going to enjoy the next 500. I like peonies too, so I would like seeing Song Bird Farms. I guess the catalog would suffice though.
Thank you! I’m sure you would enjoy the catalog.
I do like finding new resources. Plus they have great photos like all the catalogs.
Many peonies do not grow well this far south, but i still dream of the ones that were in our yard when I was a child. They had been there long before we moved in, and they grew and bloomed reliably every year. Each bloom was like a bouquet! They obviously were not bothered by the heat. I wish I knew what cultivar they were.
That is the downside of old inherited plants. They can be wonderful, but nameless!
P.S. Congratulations on 500 posts! That is quite an accomplishment. Best wishes for another 500!
How could you not love peonies? That Pearled Lemon Cream is divine.
Congratulations on 500 posts. What an achievement.
I, too, am gaga over the Pearled Lemon Cream. What a beauty!
Congrats on 500 posts – you put a lot of effort and enthusiasm into your blog, and it’s always a great read.
Thanks so much!
Congrats on 500 posts as that is a milestone….and I do love peonies but do not have a good source so I may check this one out. I was smitten with the helenium and ‘Priceless Gold Strike’.
I’m really enjoying these catalog reviews. So far, all the peonies in my garden are pass-along plants, but I plan on adding new ones when I develop my new front garden. Thanks for introducing me to Klehm’s.