Peonies are a fascinating group of plants classified under their own family, Paeoniaceae, with an estimated 40 species. Wild species predominate from southern Europe and Asia, particularly China, with many spectacular garden hybrids having derived from them. They are split into two main types, herbaceous and tree, with a third group known as the Itoh, or intersectional hybrids. They all have spectacular flowers, which justifiably earn them the nickname King of the Flowers.
In a nutshell:
All three types of peonies form the next year's buds each autumn. Tree peonies form these buds mostly on stems above ground; whilst herbaceous and intersectional peonies form buds on the underground crown of the plant.
Herbaceous peonies are propagated by seed, in the case of species, or by division for named hybrids. Many "tree" peonies are grafted on to herbaceous rootstocks. Intersectional peonies normally are not grafted due to natural hybrid vigour. Species peonies and open hybrids are easily grown from comparatively large seed.
Colour and Fragrance
Peony flowers come in a wide variety of types, ie single, double, anemone etc and colours which range from white, pink, red, maroon, to yellow, coral and shades in between. Any colour but blue … but like the rose, breeders are working on this.
Not everyone may be aware that peonies are also grown for their fragrance. Some have a fantastic fragrance, whilst others may have little, or have a fragrance likened to an odor. However, likes and dislikes vary between people and their noses.
Peonies are also long lived plants, some even known to have lived over a century; and they make dazzling cut flowers too.
Most peonies are easy to grow and relatively trouble-free from pests and diseases. Flowering tends to occur late Spring to early Summer.
There is a gallery of Peony photographs that can be seen by following this link.
The HPS Peony Group
The Peony Group is a specialist group of the Hardy Plant Society formed in 1987, and exists to stimulate greater and more specialist interest in growing all types of peonies; bringing together amateur and professional enthusiasts worldwide. It also provides members with information about less well-known species, and aims to make peonies in general available to a wider audience.
We hold an Annual General Meeting with lunch, usually in May or June at a members home, followed by visits to members gardens and a local garden of interest. We often hold plant exchanges on these days. Members share their love, not just for peonies, but all plants in general.
The newsletter is published twice a year, in Spring and in Autumn. This keeps us up to date with recent developments in the peony world and encourages articles and inputs from all members of the group, regardless of experience or knowledge on peonies. Encouraged are articles about trips made to other countries looking at peonies; nurseries and gardens. Also included is practical advice on sowing, growing, and flowering peonies, as well as help with identification of peonies. Backdated pdf files of previous newsletters can be sent to new members upon joining.
The Peony Group operates an annual seed exchange, whereby members donate surplus seeds, both species and cultivars; tree and herbaceous. A nominal fee is charged for postage and packaging. Members often report back with interesting articles and photographs in the newsletter with news of their successes.
There are now over 100 members of the peony group, both in Great Britain and overseas. Our international members can be found in the USA, Netherlands, Switzerland, Slovenia, Norway, Germany, France, Finland, Eire, Canada, Belgium and Australia. The Committee consists of a Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer, Membership Secretary, Newsletter Editor and Distributor. There are also strong links with other peony organisations.
Overseas: £6 (payable in conjunction with the annual HPS subscription)
For more information on the HPS Peony Group and details of joining, please contact Kath Carey on 01925 267633 or email email@example.com
Membership is open to all members of The Hardy Plant Society
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