Peony of the Month – ‘Bowl of Beauty’

These fantastical pink flowers remind me of something that might feature in a Dr Seuss movie. I expect a whole family of microscopic people to be living within its anemone-like centre.

‘Bowl of Beauty’ is an early flowering, herbaceous peony. Their blooms are massive, measuring up to 20cm across, and have a lovely fragrance. And you’ll be making the bees very happy having this one in your garden with its open, Japanese form.

Registered in 1949 by Hoogendoorn, this Chinese peony is also the recipient of an RHS AGM (Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit).

But what’s an AGM all about?

What’s an AGM?

The Award of Garden Merit is based on assessment of the plants performance under UK growing conditions and the Royal Horticultural Society’s seal of approval for consistent performance. Beginning in 1922, this has been an award for quality to garden plants (including trees, vegetables and decorative plants) by the RHS.

What does it take to nab that AGM?

Before being awarded, the plants go through trials that are often done at Wisley and judged by experts. The plant has to be proven reliable in the garden and the AGM is the RHS’ seal of approval for consistent performance.

The award winning plants must:

  • Be available horticulturally
  • Be of outstanding excellence for garden decoration or use
  • Be of good constitution
  • Not require highly specialist growing conditions or care
  • Not be particularly susceptible to any pest or disease
  • Not be subject to an unreasonable degree of reversion


You will find this and more information on the AGM here – RHS AGM

This award is applied to a limited amount of plants each year so if a plant doesn’t have the stamp of approval it doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t a good choice for you.

However, if you see the AGM stamp of approval you can be sure that plant is suitable for most British gardens. And it will most probably do well in yours.

Reviews of the awarded plants are done regularly to ensure that the list stays up to date. This is because some plants may no longer meet this criteria or have been replaced by better cultivars.

After a recent peony trial, the RHS awarded an Award of Garden Merit  to 45 varieties of peony, 39 of which we are currently growing!

Some of these are mentioned here (thanks Country Living!)

Have you got any AGM holders going and growing in your garden already?

If not, maybe you’ll want to start with this beauty…

The Late Bloomers

The unexpectedly cold weather we experienced in April made our peonies afraid to put their heads out.

And understandably so. Those sub-zero temperatures were a shock to us too - we had to get all our winter woollies out of storage!

Like us, after the warm spell in March, you were probably all geared up to get to work on your garden over Easter. But with temperatures peaking in the single digits and snow in some areas during April, that just didn’t happen.

We hope those overnight frosts didn’t kill too much of your garden off.

Chief horticulturalist at the Royal Horticultural Society, Guy Barter, said: “Overnight frosts in April are dreaded by gardeners. Magnolia and camellia flowers are ruined, fruit blossom and young fruitlets including pears and apples are spoiled and the tender tips of potatoes will be burnt off if they appear above ground. Gardener’s hearts are in their mouths through April as they anxiously scan the weather forecasts for frost warnings ready to rush out and cover vulnerable plants to ward off damage.”



Understandably, flowering season has been considerably delayed and we feel your frustration.

Typically, tree peonies are the first to bloom followed by herbaceous and intersectional. Intersectional or Itoh peonies often flower twice as long as tree peonies.

The following is a general guideline of the flowering season for peonies in the UK.

Weather conditions and your specific location will affect this timing. However, due to the cold weather we experienced you can expect these time estimates to be delayed by approximately 3-4 weeks.


Very Early - flowering begins late April

Early - flowering begins early May

Mid - flowering begins mid-late May

Late - flowering begins early June



With all this talk about late flowering, let’s have a look at some of the late bloomers beautiful faces we should be seeing near the end of this month (pictured right):


Paeonia ‘Old Faithful’

Herbaceous perennial with finely cut dark green foliage and fully double velvety red flowers. Vigorous, must-have plant.


Paeonia lactiflora ‘Couronne d’Or’

A herbaceous perennial with finely cut dark green foliage and large double flowers comprising ivory coloured outer petals and red/yellow flecked centres. Excellent cut flowers.


Paeonia lactiflora ‘Nippon Beauty’

A herbaceous perennial with finely cut dark green foliage with large, fragrant, single flowers with ruby red outer petals and red feathery centres with cream coloured edging. Striking and will flower heavily.


Paeonia lactiflora ‘Sword Dance’ AGM

Large, deep wine-red guard petals and golden staminoids, Japanese style peony. A show-stopper!


Paeonia lactiflora ‘Bowl of Beauty’

This classic, long lived perennial has very large flowers with carmine pink outer petals and lots of tiny creamy petals in the centre.


Paeonia lactiflora ‘Felix Crousse’

A herbaceous perennial with finely cut green foliage and a heavily scented stunning double magenta red flowers.


Paeonia lactiflora ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ AGM

This excellent example of the classic, long lived perennial has very large, double, fragrant rose-pink flowers. The inner petals are ruffled and have silvered margins.


Paeonia lactiflora ‘Sorbet’

Herbaceous perennial with attractive foliage and large, fragrant, double soft pink flowers with cream coloured frills.


After flowering season it is best to deadhead your peonies, cutting off the flower heads.

If you deadhead the peony stems after blooming, the energy can be used for future stem and root growth instead of making seeds.