Want to learn about peonies and trade if you want...

irish_rose_grower(z7 LI NY)October 13, 2005

HI. I'm new to peonies. I just received a beautiful peony from a lovely lady Jeanne (HI Jeanne) on the forum. Now I need to know all about peonies, what type of sun, soil, fertilizing, watering, etc. Also if anyone is interested in trading peonies, I have some perennials I could trade for.

Also, who has the BEST prices online for peonies. I saw some websites and the cheapest prices were around 20.00.

Also, if there is one super fragrant gorgeous PINK peony that I must have, which one is it?



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Mozart2(Zone 5 Michigan)

Irish Rose Grower:

Since you wish to know all about the world of Peonies, my first suggestion is to obtain a copy of "Peonies" by Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall. Obviously, you can find copies at your public library or through their inter-library loan system or you can purchase the book through various new or used book dealers.

Two excellent sources of used/new books are




These two sources, which are links to a very wide array of used and new booksellers, which often offer books in new, near new, fine, very good, etc. conditions.

With regard to the book itself, "Peonies" provides an excellent history, overview, and an good discussion of an extremely wide variety of different types of peonies with various lists - including those suitable for cut flowers, fragrance, etc.

Information from Amazon.com about this book:

"Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall's Peonies is a ravishing book--the sort of book that you covet from the moment you see it--but it isn't just lovely to look at, it is also a wonderful read. It tells the long and fascinating history of this most beautiful of flowers, tracing its origins in the wild to its cultivation in the Imperial gardens of China and Japan and its journey to the West. The characters encountered along the way include an empress who arranged for the planting of many thousands of tree peonies, yet murdered her baby daughter and in her 70s took two brothers half her age as lovers, and a French missionary who spent most of his life in China collecting over 1,500 species of peony, most of which were sent back to France. As befits its subject, the book is lavishly illustrated with paintings and photographs that are both informative and appealing.

But this is not just a wonderful story well told. It is also a serious work of reference giving comprehensive information on peony varieties, how to grow them, where to find them, and where to see them. It's written with the international reader in mind, so references include information relevant to the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand as well as Great Britain and Europe. --Stephanie Donaldson"

An Amazon.com customer gives the following review of this book:

"If you are a peony lover, you will treasure this book. Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall not only knows her peonies and traces their fascinating history through the imperial courts of China and Japan, but she interweaves this with a history of how peonies have been used in paintings and porcelain. The beautiful pictures included not only show the various peony cultivars, but show the peony as it is used in Asian porcelains, paintings and European paintings. This book and its photographs are so lovely, that I expected to pay much more for it. It's a bargain, if you are a peony lover. Al Rogers "Peonies" is a bit more explicit about growing and cultivation, but this book compliments his, because of the romance it brings to the peony. It is also practical, listing the cultivars, showing many pictures, and recommending the more successful cultivars. If you love peonies and want to know more about their place in history, I heartily recommend Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall's "Peonies." "

Once in a while you may also find this book at either at






With regard to the selection of additional peonies, you might try the following source, which is the direct link to the Paeonia lactiflora 'Duchesse de Nemours'


If you scroll down a bit, you'll find their listing of sources and then click on it for further information. The next listing will link you to further sources, most of which will be web sites which will lead you to additional sources and price comparisons.

Obviously, if you book mark the link below, you'll be able to search all sources of plant material at the extraordinary Missouri Botanical Gardens in St. Louis, MO.


Additionally, if you click on "Search", you'll be taken to their unique search engine - the best that I've seen to date.

FYI - when I was living in central Illinois, I visited this absolutely delightful and extraordinary garden quite frequently. Now that I am living in northwestern Michigan, there is nothing that I have seen in this neck of the woods to compare, but then, I haven't yet explore all of the garden areas in this state. The Meijer gardens in Grand Rapids is young and doesn't compare to the extent and maturity of the Missouri Botanical Garden, but they are headed in a good direction.

As for excellent, but not necessarily cheap, sources of Peonies, I placed my first order with A & D Nursery:


and was greatly impressed with the quality of their rootstock. One of the peonies that I ordered was "Chestine Gowdy", whose roots were nearly 8 inches long. By linking to the web site listed above and scrolling down a bit, you'll find some information on this peony as well as a link to "her" unique photograph.

I was so impressed by "her" unique coloration, fragrance, etc. that I made her the center piece between two red peonies: "PHILIPPE RIVOIRE" that I obtained from them as well. Both of "his" roots were extensive as well.

The fourth peony that I purchased from them was "FLORENCE NICHOLLS", which was going to be the "center piece" in my original garden design. Now that I've changed the planting plan of "Florence", I will have to place an order for a second one to give some "balance" to my patio garden area.

For an added addition to my garden, I've decided to plant two Phlox paniculata 'Mount Fuji', which is planted slightly in back of and just between "Chestine Gowdy" and each of the "PHILIPPE RIVOIRE"'s. Here's the link to some information at the Missouri Botanical Garden with regard to this Phlox.


Another peony that I may eventually add to my garden is the known as the "Memorial Day" Peony. It's official name is Paeonia officinalis 'Rubra Plena'

My mother had this peony in her garden for decades and it usually bloomed close or around Memorial Day (central Illinois). She treasured it and often used it as a cut flower. Now my daughter, Heather, has this plant in her garden and thus a tradition lives on.

You will find more information on the "Memorial Day" Peony at this link:


So now you have additional sources of information with regard to peonies and other plants.

In addition to the sources mentioned above, I would also recommend the reading of two - still - excellent books: "Green Thoughts: A Writer in the Garden" by Eleanor Perenyi and "The Fragrant Year" by Helen van Pelt Wilson and Leonie Bell. Both are out of print - I believe - but should be available at or through your public library and/or through the two sources of used books listed above. They are books to be treasured!!!!

I do hope that you and others will find this discussion and sources of information more than useful in your gardening endeavors.


    Bookmark   October 17, 2005 at 11:59PM
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For a beautiful pink peony with a lovely fragrance, I recommend "Vivid Rose."

You can do a Google search on 'Vivid Rose' and click on 'images' to see what it looks like. I've put one sample below for you...you'll have to scroll down the screen to see it.

I bought mine from a wonderful peony farm in Northfield, Vermont. (Countryman's)


Here is a link that might be useful: Pic of Vivid Rose

    Bookmark   October 21, 2005 at 3:19PM
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irish_rose_grower(z7 LI NY)

Bill, I totally appreciate all of your help here. You are a wealth of information. I got the book Peonies, by Jane Fearnly at my library. I got it today and will be reading it this weekend. I still have a lot of researching to do, based on all of this great info you gave me.

Judye - it is so funny that you mention vivid rose. I went to a website (maybe hollingsworth, i don't remember which one) and looked for the 2 that I wanted, which were: Sarah bernhardt and Vivid rose. Which ever website it was they were out of stock on both. I just liked the look of these 2, I didn't realize that Vivid rose was such a great plant. Now I must get it :-)

Thanks for the picture. It is a beauty.


    Bookmark   October 21, 2005 at 5:12PM
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On a separate thread could you discribe Countyman's. I understand that they have one of the largest collections of peonies in the country. Bill Countyman passed away this summer so hopefully the collection will remain together.

I am trying not to hijack the threads anymore.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2005 at 9:16PM
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ywilliam(z2/3 AK)

I found this terrific nursery on the web that sends "Monster" peony divisions when you order from them. Their motto is to "make an instant impact in your garden", rather than wait 2 or 3 years to see a bloom. They are Scott and Elizabeth Reath of Reath's Nursery at www.reathsnursery.com. The contact is 906.563.9777. In fact, Scott's father, David Reath, hybridized one of a few, the very rare" Lemon Chiffon" before he died, priced at $380. And, its gorgeous!

I swear to you, the roots are as if they sent the entire plant to you! There's 3 different sizes and prices to choose from for each peony named. I ordered a few peonies just this past Monday via fax, and I received them today (this Wednesday evening) on my door step by UPS, because they cared about the snow coming in soon. Now that's service!! I promised them that because of the wonderful service I received that I would make every local master gardener aware of their website. They even ship through November until "their" ground freezes! How can you beat that!

I only wish I'd found them 4 years ago! Of course, we have snow by November but, you can always pot them up and put them in a cold place. I can assure you all that their services and divisions are certainly worth any money spent!!!!!! Please make all my sisters and brothers of gardening aware. Please check out the website guys!

    Bookmark   October 31, 2005 at 4:40PM
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