RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2022 – A Sneak Peek

The dress code at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show these days might feel a little casual for some – more jeans and t-shirts, less royal frocks and hats.

But there is still plenty of glamour to be enjoyed! Wafting around surrounded by blooms with a glass of Pimm’s or bubbly in hand sounds pretty glamorous to me! No matter how you’re dressed.

Or even undressed...

Remember our nude peony-ed model at the 2019 Chelsea Flower Show (pictured right)? We had such fun.

This year we are excited to be back in full bloom and having a ball exhibiting at the Floral Marquee at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2022.

 

What We've Been Up To

With so many colours, shapes, scents and varieties to choose from, we can say that there certainly is a peony to suit every garden style and choice. Their delicate but blousy blooms enchant visitors to the show year after year and we want this year to be the most memorable peony exhibit yet.

It has been nearly two years since we have displayed peonies in their full glory at the RHS Chelsea so we are delighted to be back and full force, bringing back some fun after the difficult two years of the pandemic.

Our exhibit has been in the making for the last 18 months with a photoshoot taking place on the nursery last Spring.

As the largest exhibit we have ever undertaken, our team is hard at work growing over one thousand peonies for the display.

Send us all your growing vibes please!

 

What Will You See?

We are creating an experience where you'll find yourself immersed in the wondrous world of peonies and falling in love with them as much as we have, appreciating all of their unique and beautiful qualities.

We hope this will stoke your desire for having your own peonies growing in your garden, even if you have never grown them before.

In our dreamy display of peonies you will be able to see yourself having fun, like you did as a kid – playing in a whimsical forest surrounded by magical flowers.

The display will feature a large backdrop image from our ethereal photoshoot. At the centre of the exhibit will be a peony-covered swing, courtesy of Sitting Spiritually, allowing you to imagine yourself enjoying the tranquility of our ‘midsummer nights dream’, experiencing the serenity that gardens can provide while feeling more connected to nature. A beautifully sculpted Fairy by Robert James and all trees provided by Valley Plants. The intoxicating fragrance of the peonies will transport you to another world, allowing you to experience the wonder and versatility of peonies.

To really get the full experience you'll want to keep an eye out for our Photocall at the show – an opportunity for you to snap some pics of a beautiful Fairy Queen in our enchanted peony forest doing what fairy queens do.

Which is?

You'll have to come and see for yourself!

And that is just the tip of the petal of what’s in store for you at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this year.

So come and see us! We look forward to seeing you there.

If you haven’t got your tickets yet, you better grab ‘em here...

RHS Chelsea Flower Show

in the buff in 2019...

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2022

A Garden of Love

While it’s always a treat to receive a bouquet of flowers for Valentine’s Day celebrations, a plant would be even better.

The longer lifespan means you won’t be forgotten any time soon.

Especially with peonies – you’ll be thought of for decades!

Here’s some ideas on what plants to bring into your or someone you love’s garden or home to send the message of love:

Amaranth

Symbolism:

  • Unending love/immortality
  • Said to cure a broken heart

Facts:

  • Annual or perennial depending on the variety
  • A long history of medicinal use

 

Aster

Symbolism:

  • Grow it to wish for love
  • Carry it to win love
  • Love, patience, elegance, good luck and gained wisdom

Facts:

  • Majority are perrenials, while some are annuals and biennials
  • They bloom from late summer to first frost so are popular in autumn and winter flower arrangements
  • Also referred to as ‘Starworts’ or ‘Michaelmas’

 

Chrysanthemum

Symbolism:

  • Red ones say ‘I love you’
  • Rose-coloured ones say ‘in love’

Facts:

  • They are perennials but if you buy them from a nursery, treat them as annuals
  • For centuries the oil extracted from the flowers of certain species has been used in insecticides
  • The plant’s petals are actually florets with both sexual parts

 

Crocus

Symbolism:

  • Their fragrance is thought to inspire love
  • Apparently you can attract love into your life by growing crocus

Facts:

  • An early-blooming spring bulb-like structure called a corm
  • Their leaves and petals are insulated by a waxy layer helping them weather occasional frost and even a bit of snow
  • Saffron is the product of Crocus

 

Carnation

Symbolism:

  • Pink carnations symbolize a mother’s love
  • Red symbolizes a deeply romantic love or pure love

Facts:

  • Also known as ‘pink clover’
  • There are 3 main types of carnations: large flowered, spray, and dwarf
  • They are edible and delicious as part of a dessert or on their own

 

Dahlia

Symbolism:

  • Love, inner strength, beauty, kindness
  • A way to say ‘I’m forever yours’

Facts:

  • All dahlia are edible
  • In Mexico, Dahlia tubers are roasted and made into a drink (in place of coffee)
  • The ‘Little Dorit’ variety was named after the Charles Dickens novel

 

English Lavender

Symbolism:

  • purity and devotion
  • a lavender scented note or clothes scented with lavender are thought to attract love

Facts:

  • an evergreen perennial shrub
  • lavender comes in other colours other than lavender – white, yellow and pink

 

Peonies

Symbolism:

  • Red peonies symbolise love, romance and passion
  • Pink peonies communicate lasting love, good fortune and prosperity

Facts:

  • They come in every colour except blue
  • Bees prefer the ‘single’ form
  • Their petals are on the dessert menu in China
  • They can live on for more than a century!

 

Yarrow

Symbolism:

  • Having yarrow in your home will bring you love for 7 years!
  • They’ve been said to find your one true love

Facts:

  • A hardy perennial
  • Make good companion plants
  • Birds love them - apparently used by Starlings in their nests as they stop the growth of parasites
  • Attract bees and other beneficial insects

 

If you already have a few of these in your garden or home then you’re well on your way to love.

Peony of the Month and Gifts!

What would Christmas be without red?

We picked this one as our peony of the month for that very reason - its rich red Christmassy hue.

‘Scarlet Heaven’ is an unusual, rare and highly collectable intersectional peony with large, single, bright crimson red flowers. This is a mid season bloomer with golden-yellow anthers and finely cut divided green foliage turning red in spring and autumn. The stems are sturdy, so no staking is required.

Red Itoh peonies are rare and ‘Scarlet Heaven’ is known to be one of the best of the reds as it performs very well.

Reminisce

Although they won’t be flowering at this time of year, when you do see them flowering from May - June next year you will have an opportunity to reminisce about all things Christmas and how much life has changed.

Or simply just enjoy the burst of red in the garden.

And as we were speaking about in our previous post about gratitude – it could be an opportunity to reflect on the wonders of nature. How grateful we are for all those juicy underground processes that produce these fantastic flowers.

Gift Ideas

However, if you’re looking for ways to get into the blooming season spirit right now, there are other ways to give the gift of a peony.

For instance, with our giftware range!

And if you have a few friends and family with different talents, there are options for every flare:

For the Plantsman/woman:

A beautiful British Bloom collection of gardening tools (manufactured by Burgon & Ball and RHS endorsed) with a Peony and Dahlia design. The Trowel and Fork are made from hardened and tempered stainless steel for superior strength and durability (years of rust resistance) and engraved with a quote from Gertrude Jekyll:

“The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies”

There are Beech Wood handled options too.

Also in this range:

 

For the Tea Lover:

An English fine bone ‘Breakfast Tea Gift Set’ belongs in every tea lovers home. Made in England together with a British artist, this collection of teapot, milk jug and printed tea towel has a delicate peony blooms, buds and bee illustration in soft light rose pink and a deeper warm pink.

Also in this range:

 

For the Chef/Baker Extraordinaire:

With the same lovely design described above, the oven gloves and apron set bring Spring back into the kitchen, no matter what the season.

For the Interior Decorator:

How about a cotton cushion cover with peony art printed on both sides?

Or beautiful works of art available as mounted prints or as framed pictures?

Both designed by Carolyn Carter who has used our award-winning peonies as inspiration to create a unique and exclusive fine art collection.

 

And if you can’t decide, perhaps a gift voucher is best.

We’re all for simplifying what can sometimes feel like a season of silliness.

May it be more merry than mad!

 

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021

This year is the 99th year of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and it’s going to be an invigorating, inspiring and welcome distraction!

After this challenging period of time let's leave the stress behind us and immerse ourselves in the restorative powers of nature! In fact, the therapeutic value of having plants around is being celebrated at this years show.

Although we could still savour it virtually last year, we must admit, it wasn’t quite the same. We are ecstatic to be able to be with you all in person once again!

What will we be showing?

The show will take place from 21-26 September which is a change from the blooming season, but we thought this was a great opportunity for us to show that the beauty of peonies goes beyond the blooms. We'll be featuring Intersectionals which have wonderfully colourful autumn foliage and sharing information about breeding and propagation - the scientific reasons these plants are so special to us!

We will also be featuring our collaboration with award winning British Jewellery Designer Theo Fennell this year. We are thrilled to be working with an amazing British creative such as Theo Fennell on our Chelsea exhibit. This collaboration will bring peonies into a world they may not usually inhabit and that is very exciting. The focus on craftsmanship will highlight to the public the skill of master peony grower and master jeweller and highlight the synergy between the crafts.

”Our Gallery, workshop and studio have been based in Chelsea for 40 years and it is our spiritual home. The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is one of the great local, jolly events and a cornerstone of the London season. As a company we have used flowers as an inspiration for years and my wife’s favourites are Peonies….so when Primrose Hall Peonies, the best Peony growers in the Kingdom asked us to partner with them at the show, it seemed a perfect fit. We are very excited to be partnering with them, designing some Peony inspired jewels and showing it at RHS Chelsea flower show and much looking forward to it." - Theo Fennell

What else will you see?

The Chelsea Flower Show becomes a magnificent melting pot of horticultural specialists, florists, nurseries and designers to produce a giant explosion of creative expression! This is the place to see what’s trending in the gardening world with products such as gardening tools, sculptures and, of course, plants aplenty.

Some of the other displays to enjoy:

Guide Dog’s 90th Anniversary Garden - telling the story of when the first guide dogs were trained in the 1930s for blind war veterans and the wonderful work these creatures do, bringing liberation and connection to the blind.

Bodmin Jail: 60° East – A Garden Between Continents - a blend of European and Asian plants brought together by the landscapes of the Ural Mountain creates a refreshing and calming, atmospheric journey

Green Sky Pocket Garden - showing innovative use of smaller outdoor spaces, bringing nature back into the city.

Pop Street Garden – a colourful, pop and street art inspired space to hang out and have some post-lockdown fun!

Clearly, this show is not one to be missed. Even if it should rain, the show must go on! In fact one year when it was a thoroughly rainy show, one of the exhibitors dubbed it ‘The Chelsea Shower Flow’ (more odd facts here).

Due to covid safety precautions, the number of visitors will be less than in previous years so grab that ticket now!

Peony of the Month – ‘Pink Hawaiian Coral’

Wouldn’t a trip to Hawaii be good round about now?

To feel that warm water and soft, white sand on the feet while smiling into clear, 25°C blue skies...

Sigh...

Ok, torture over.

Until we get there, let’s bring a bit of that dream into the garden with the lovely peony ‘Pink Hawaiian Coral’.

The blooms start out rose-coral pink fading to apricot, then cream and at times all three shades can be present at once. These warm, sunset shades set against dark green foliage makes this early mid-season semi-double peony striking. It’s a great one to have in the border near a path so the subtle fragrance can be enjoyed. Registered by Roy G. Klehm in 1981, ‘Pink Hawaiian Coral’ became an APS Gold Medalist in 2000 and took home an Award of Landscape Merit in 2009.

This herbaceous perennial reaches 90cm in height making it a good cut flower.

As we know, all peonies are perennials.

But what exactly is a perennial? And what’s so great about them?

What is a perennial?

Perennial stems die down in the winter so they have a shorter growing season, typically flowering for only one season each year. Regrowing every spring for 3 years or more, they make a fantastic foundation in the garden.

Why have them?

Some reasons are:

  • Although you may spend a bit more on them initially, they can live for a very long time so are worth every penny
  • They can be propagated by division or reseeding – more free plants in your garden or to gift on to friends!
  • They are cold-hardy
  • Perennials tend to require less water and care after they’re established
  • A little pruning/dividing keeps them neat and growing vigorously, but some can be left to their own devices, often thriving on neglect
  • No matter what your specific garden conditions are – shady, dry, plagued by deer - there’s a perfectly suited perennial out there for you
  • They do well in pots and once they outgrow them they’ll happily go in the garden
  • Those that aren’t quite suited to your winter climate can be put back in a pot indoors to stay cosy during winter
  • Planting perennials that are native to your region creates a welcoming habitat for pollinators and local wildlife
  • They provide a long term service to your garden’s ecosystem – pollinators tend to stick around and multiply where the food source is sustainable and thus consistent
  • Planting perennials with staggered bloom times provides an ongoing bounty for these creatures
  • Veggie patches and fruit trees do better when surrounded by perennials as they are more likely to be pollinated

 

So why not try some Hawaii? Peonies are star perennials and ‘Pink Hawaiian Coral’ is just one of hundreds to choose from.

With our end of season sale now on you could try a few with different blooming times.

That way you and all the other creatures and plant-life in your garden can enjoy the wonderful benefits throughout the season.

Peony of the Month – ‘Red Charm’

What about a bit of red to spice your Spring garden up a bit?

It’s not every day you come across a red as true as the one worn by ‘Red Charm’. Like that Little Red Riding Hood in the dark forest, ‘Red Charm’ stands out in the garden and is very attractive to visitors.

Be they wolf, butterfly or human…

A cross of the well-known P. ‘Rubra Plena’ it was registered by Glasscock in 1944 and became an APS Gold Medal winner in 1956.

And 65 years later it’s still going strong... The wonder of peonies! We can’t gush enough about these plants. They really are our favourite.

‘Red Charm’ is an indulgent, herbaceous perennial that is early flowering and sturdy. It produces lots of deep, ruby red cup-shaped flowers with ruffled centres that keep expanding as the flower opens. The flowers are bomb-shaped and very large, sometimes reaching up to 20cm across. Although it opens a scarlet red colour, as the flower matures it becomes darker and darker ending up a deep plum or purple.

Once established it can reach up to 90cm in height and its bushy growth habit and fine, dark green leaves remain lovely into Autumn. This makes ‘Red Charm’ a great choice if you would like to create a small hedge or need some structure along a pathway. You could also pop it in a flower bed with a mix of other perennials for a striking display.

It’s likely that you will enjoy having this reliable and vigorous beauty in your garden so much that you will come to depend on being dazzled by its beautiful flower and foliage displays year after year.

This exquisite lady in red with its substantial, waxy-textured petals and strong stems makes an excellent, long-lasting cut flower and has a pleasing, subtle fragrance.

If you’d like to add ‘Red Charm’ to your collection, here are some guidelines for planting this herbaceous peony:

  • Plant in full sun or part shade in a sheltered position
  • Any fertile soil will do, as long as it is free draining
  • Plant with the crown (top of the root) no more than 5cm below the ground. With container grown plants, simply plant them at the same level they are in the pot they arrive in
  • Don’t bury it with mulch. Peonies like organic matter but don’t mulch over the crown as it might not flower the next Spring
  • Once you are ready to plant your peony in the garden, start by digging a hole twice as big as the root ball of the plant and put some organic matter or compost at the bottom of the hole. It is often a good idea to mix some fertiliser (such as our Professional Peony Feed) with the compost
  • Place your peony in the centre of the hole, ensuring that the crown is level with or just below the surface level, backfill with compost and soil and firm into place. Water well but don’t over-water; remember that the root will rot if it gets too wet
  • Peonies will also be happily planted in a container so you can follow the same process, just make sure you feed your container grown peonies once a year to make sure they have enough nutrients

 

And there you go!

In this case, red means ‘go’!

Grow peony grow!

Peony of the Month – ‘Mother’s Choice’

In the spirit of Mother’s Day this month we have a perfectly named peony we want to tell you all about – ‘Mother’s Choice’.

Paeonia Lactiflora ‘Mother’s Choice’ is a wonderfully large, creamy white, herbaceous peony. A favourite cut flower choice, these peony flowers sit atop long strong, stems with glossy dark green leaves. A late midseason bloomer, they flower heavily from late spring to early summer for about 7-10 days and grow best in places where there’s an abundance of sunlight.

Reaching a height of approximately 90cm and spreading out to around 50cm these fully double rose-shaped blooms that can get up to 20cm across have a faint blush and sometimes exhibit dark pink streaks on the edges of their petals. Due to the large bloom size it is likely they will need staking. So get your plant supports ready just in case!

‘Mother’s Choice’ is delightfully fragrant so you can plant it close to entrances and on pathways to enjoy the lovely scent as you pass by. Forget roses! Stop and smell the poenies when life starts getting a bit much!

Registered in 1950 by the American breeder Glasscock, ‘Mother’s Choice’ is a result of cross breeding P. Lactiflora ‘Polar Star’ and became an American Peony Society Gold medallist in 1993.

With their roots in China, P. Lactiflora cultivars are also spoken about as the Chinese Peony and are the most familiar herbaceous peonies we see in our modern day gardens.

Delving briefly into a little bit of their back story, P. Lactiflora were originally used medicinally in China and by the seventh century they became popular as an ornamental plant and were placed under imperial protection. The emperor’s gardeners began creating more showy flowers, inspiring the emperor’s artists to capture them on screen paintings, tapestries, silk and porcelain.

By the eighth century, peonies found their way to Japan as the Chinese traded their very valuable roots for goods and in the early 1800’s P. Lactiflora was brought to France from China and introduced into European gardens.

By the second half of the 1800’s a lot of new hybrids were being developed by breeders such as Calot, Lemoine, Crousse and Dessert, many of which we still see today.

Peonies go back a long way and it’s easy to see why they were so prized - their luxurious beauty is unmatched.

If you don’t already have this lovely variety in your collection and would like to add it or are thinking of gifting one they will be ready for release in Spring. So if you head on over to our shop you can place your order now and it will be sent to your door as soon as Spring has sprung!

And while you’re there, check out the rest of the goodies to see if there’s any other pretty things you might fancy.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch! We love hearing from our customers and knowing how their peony experience is going.

Peonies named after Great Ladies

How would you feel having a plant named after you?

Like many breeders and adventurers that have had their creations and discoveries named after them, it must be quite an experience to have something out there with your name on it.

Unlike human generations that can die off after a century or less, plants carry on for hundreds of years.

And there, a piece of you lives on. Forever memorialised in that name.

Sarah Bernhardt is one Great Lady that has such a privilege.

But who was she and what was she famous for?

Sarah Bernhardt became famous during an idyllic period of time in France before WW1 called the Belle Epoque. During the 19th century, France became more cosmopolitan due to the border collapsing between social groups and gender. It was an era all about freedom and Sarah personified this time of liberation, paving the way for actresses to come.

She was a woman on a liberation mission with a daring preference for male roles and was not intimidated by men. When Oscar Wilde asked her if ‘she would mind his smoking’, she answered: “I don’t care if you burn”.

As a model, writer, mother, businesswoman, mistress, international idol she formed her own travel company and travelled extensively. All quite revolutionary at the time for a woman.

Known as “Divine Sarah” she starred in some of the earliest films produced, introducing the world to the splendour of theatre. She not only made art, she was art. If you've ever had an overly dramatic emotional outburst in your life (no judgement) you may have been accused of "doing a Sarah Bernhardt". This stands as a tribute to Sarah's remarkable talent for tragic drama on and off stage.

The French breeder Monsieur Lemoine named his peony after Sarah Bernhardt in 1906 and it became the most well-known peony in the world because of Sarah’s dramatic persona – she had been known to, at times, sleep in a coffin as she felt it helped her have more understanding in the tragic roles she played.

I wonder what Sarah thought about having her name on these beauties.

Perhaps her jumping off a parapet while performing in La Toscana and injuring her knee was what moved Lemoine to name the peony after her.

Who knows?

Such beauty. Such tragedy.

One thing we know for sure is that, just like the icon herself, this outstanding peony is one of the most popular blooms around with its sweetly scented, sugar pink, fully double blooms and striking raspberry flashes on the guard petals and makes a great cut flower. A mid-late season bloomer (late May/June in the UK) it holds the RHS AGM (Award of Garden Merit). A star in the garden when it comes to reliability.

And if you don't like pink you could go for the Red Sarah Bernhardt - a mid-season bloomer with lightly fragrant, large, double, cerise-red blooms.

Also a winner!

Another peony named after a great lady is Alice Harding. There is a tree peony and a herbaceous peony with her name on them. The tree type sports huge, fragrant, semi-double lemon yellow blooms with tightly packed petals while the herbaceous type has luscious double blooms with white/pale pink flowers and pink tinged guard petals.

Alice Harding was a gardener and writer of the early 20th century that lived on Burnley Farm in Plainfield, New Jersey where she collected, tested, and evaluated the finest new peony varieties. While in France in 1922, she offered a prize to the Société Nationale d'Horticulture de France for the best new French seedling. Emile Lemoine won and named his seedling in Mrs. Harding's honour.

And peonies weren't the only flowers that were named after her. There is also a rose, an iris and two French hybrid lilacs out there bearing her name.

A Great Lady indeed.

Do you have either of these lovelies in your garden right now?

Let us know!

 

Sarah

Peonies in Europe – A Brief History

Found yourself pondering over how the beloved peony found its way over to our neck of the woods? This is a subject I find endlessly fascinating. So much so, that in my efforts to condense things down into a brief history of peonies in Europe it all became more of a not-so-brief history of nearly everything (to semi-quote Bill Bryson). It became increasingly challenging to whittle it all down to what could be considered the most “important” bits, but here we are. My hope is that you will find some slightly lesser known facts to enrich your view of this historically diverse plant.

There are nearly 40 types of peonies that occur naturally in Central and Southern Europe, Caucasia, Asia and North America. The fragrant Chinese common peony (P.lactiflora) is a herbaceous perrenial originally used medicinally in China but by the seventh century they became popular as an ornamental plant and were placed under imperial protection. The emperor’s gardeners began creating more showy flowers which inspired his artists to capture them on screen paintings, tapestries, silk and porcelain.

By the eighth century peonies found their way to Japan as the Chinese traded the very valuable roots of these plants for goods.  It is distinguished from the common peony (P. officinalis) by its leaves, which have finely jagged edges, and its fruits (follicles), which are smooth.

Several varieties of the European common peony (P.officinalis) can be found occurring naturally in Europe and were mostly used medicinally in the 1400s. Introduced to Britain before 1548, this herbaceous double crimson peony became possibly the best known common peony in gardens, often found surviving on their own on old/abandoned estates.

In 1789 the botanist Sir Joseph Banks had a tree peony (P.suffruticosa) brought to England by the British East India Company which was planted in Kew Gardens.  European varieties known before the year 1800 come from P.officinalis and many of these came from France. Cultivation of herbaceous and tree peonies from the Far East began during the 1800s after discoveries were made by explorers.

In the early 1800s P.lactiflora was brought to France from China and introduced into European gardens.  By the second half of the 1800s new hybrids were being developed by breeders such as Calot, Lemoine, Crousse and Dessert, many of which are still seen today. During this time peonies captured the imagination of many European Impressionists such as Gauguin, Manet, Monet, Delacroix, Renoir, Whistler and Fantin-Latour who included peonies in their paintings. Peonies also featured in Art Nouveau posters such as ones by Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

By the early 1900s different species were cross-fertilized bringing about the first herbaceous and tree hybrids. The first large double yellow tree peonies were created in France by Louis Henry, Maxim Cornù and Lemoine. These were hybrids of P. suffruticosa (cultivated for centuries in China and Japan) and P.lutea (a yellow-flower species brought to Europe from China by Abbé Delavay in the late 1800s) and had to be supported due to the weak stem and large flower combination.

However, in the 1950’s an American breeder of herbaceous peonies, Professor Saunders, rectified this by cross-fertilizing to increase the strength of the stem and creating a simpler flower - semi-double and double. Following on from Saunder’s work, William Gratwick and Nassos Daphnis made notable progress resulting in some of the most remarkable Lutea hybrids available. It was then in 1948 that Dr. Toichi Itoh from Japan cross-bred the herbaceous species (P.lactiflora) with the tree species (P.lutea), producing the “Intersectional”/”Itoh” hybrid we see today.

Found in so many different regions around the world, it's no surprise then that peonies suit so many different types of gardens. This gives us helpful insight as to where the best places are to plant peonies in your garden. We will be discussing that in a future post but, for now, this is it!

Meet “Etched Salmon” Peony – Plant of the Month

So we picked “Etched Salmon” as our Plant of the Month. Isn't she lovely?

You'd be forgiven for mistaking these blooms for the underside of a ballerina's tutu. When spring rolls around, you’ll have these Swan-Lake-ruffled-feathery-fluffs in pink, gently prancing around upside down in your garden.

Sound blooming marvelous? Well, we think so too!

“Etched Salmon” is a rare herbaceous double hybrid variety first coming into being in 1968 and registered in 1981 by Cousins and Klehm, being awarded Gold Medal as "Peony of the Year" by the American Peony Society in 2002.

Interestingly, this variety was the only one to last all six days in the heat on our stand at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2019. Now that’s a tough cookie!

So let’s get the specs from toe to top on what this beauty’s all about:

Roots Fibrous, located close to the surface of the soil.

Stems Strong, each ending with a bud

Leaves Large, petiolate, medium green in a compact bush up to 80 cm high with divided foliage. Stays full until either the first frost or autumn. Resistant to wind and rain.

Buds You’ll see buds in the second year after planting and in the third and fourth year it’ll be blooming like a bomb

Blooms Silvery coral pink with a golden border around the edges. Resembles a rose in its rounded shape created by large outer guard petals protecting a bounty of smaller more delicate ones getting darker to the centre. Changes colour several times during flowering but won’t fade in the sun. Can be 16-17cm in diameter.

Aroma Delicate lemony aroma. (When will we have a scratch and sniff function on screens?)

If you’ve fallen in love and want to welcome this darling into your garden family click on the pic on the right! Autumn is the perfect time to start with one. As long as your soil is full of goodness and well drained (especially in winter) your peonies will be that gift that just keeps on giving with minimal maintenance. If you already have peonies and they didn't flower, Alec sheds some light on that here.

Although herbaceous peony stems die back in autumn and winter, don't worry that the cold has killed it off. Peonies need the cooler weather to work hard on developing flower buds to delight you with in spring.

We love seeing this change as autumn ushers in those crisp, cool mornings preparing us for the regeneration work of winter. A wide range of autumn colours can be found on herbaceous peonies. After they have changed colour, the next stage can look a bit dull as the foliage turns brown and curls up. However, this is good news for friendly insects such as ladybirds as they use the leaves to hibernate in. So leave those leaves alone for as long as possible, for ladybird’s sake.

We find it endlessly rewarding seeing the many faces of these plants as they live their lives alongside ours. And that's why we LOVE PEONIES! Because they last forever (60-100+ years) and they just keep getting better and more forgiving and giving with time!

If you'd like to get more into the nitty gritty of planting peonies in autumn we will be talking more about that later this month.

So pop back in to pick up some handy tips and ask us any questions you have!