It’s so easy to rave and ramble on about peonies – they have been labelled one of THE most beautiful blooms (there’s a stressful title to live up to!), and are beloved and collected by many gardeners. I do rejoice that these gorgeous, abundant bloomers are also hardy, drought tolerant, and can survive over 50 years. The wonderment of the peony starts with their glossy, succulent shoots that splay into steadfast dark green foliage. Then the glorious tight buds that erupt into spectacular, frothy blooms. And for most peonies, the fragrance, ahhhh, the spell binding fragrance! Peonies can have a rose, lemon, honey or musk scent. Their blooms can be single, semi-double, double, ‘bomb’ or Japanese. Herbaceous peonies are your old fashioned peonies that die to the ground each winter and come back in the spring. Tree peonies have woody stems that lose their leaves in the fall, but the wood stays intact over winter. Itoh peonies are a cross of those two types, but do die to the ground each winter and come back in the spring. It can be daunting to choose a peony with so many cultivars. I would start with an herbaceous peony in a colour you love, and check the label to confirm it is a fragrant variety. Peonies can stand alone in a sunny part of your garden or add great bones to the back or end of a mixed garden. If you get addicted, you can certainly collect from there!
Technical stuff: Herbaceous peonies are perennials hardy to zone 2-3 depending on variety, prefer full sun and well-drained soil, most varieties have height and spread around 30”-36” (read labels), blooming in late spring/early summer.