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.


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!


Christmas – A Time to Give Back

Is it just me or is this year speeding to a halt?

Another year! Another December! And we’re all still around to enjoy it.

Now that’s something to be grateful for.

Another thing to be thankful for is our gardens. They are just the best little pieces of peace we could ever have. Sanctuaries. Places to experiment and learn more about life and ourselves.

This time of year is a good opportunity to think about how we can show our gratitude.

Here are some ideas:

Give to the Earth

One way you can do this is by thinking of ways we can look after the environment.

For instance, cutting down on unnecessary waste at this time by reusing old Christmas decorations. Or making your own out of natural/recycled materials.

Give to Your Peonies

While your peonies are not flowering they’re having a long, rejuvenating slumber underground.

So here are some ways you can show your peonies some gratitude for all the hard work they’ve done and are still doing:

Herbaceous and Itoh

  • With the stems and leaves having died back, trim the stems without cutting any exposed peony ‘eyes’
  • Make sure to clear the ground around each peony plant and dispose of the stems and leaves in the bin. It can be tempting to compost them but this may attract botrytis, especially if it is a wet winter.
  • If your peony is mature (5+years) it’s likely that the crown will push through the soil in winter and show some ‘eyes’. You won’t need to worry about protecting them as peonies love the cold of winter and will be just fine.


Tree peonies

  • While the leaves are also dead and require removing, there is no need to trim back the branches. They’ll be fine out there in the cold. If you’ve trimmed them already, that’s ok. As long as the roots are well established the branches will grow back.
  • Unlike Herbaceous peonies, Tree peonies like to be buried more deeply. So if it looks like it needs a bit of a boost, experiment with adding a few inches of soil around the base of the trunk.


Give a Peony

As mentioned, peonies aren’t flowering now. But they will be next year and the year after that and the year after that!

Peonies are the most wonderful, long lasting gift to give as they really do just keep on giving. They grow on for decades.

And although the receiver may find it a bit strange getting a pot of soil with some dormant roots in it, they will not be disappointed.

You can think of it like gifting a savings account to a relative for future gifts. Such as being able to go to university or buying a piece of property. They may not be able to enjoy it right now but when they do, it will be the best gift ever!

And that’s peonies – the best forever gift.

Christmas Velvet – Plant of the Month

Are you dreaming of a white Christmas?

Snow is magical. We watch it from our windows picturing ourselves frolicking in what seems to be perfectly light, white fluffiness.

In our excitement we hurry down to the nearest park and proceed to scrape together what we hope will be a bright, white, artful sculpture. But it turns out to be more of an unrecognisable, beige slushie.

Sometimes reality can be disappointing.

But we are absolutely certain you will not be disappointed by the reality of the lush red opulence of Christmas Velvet – our plant of the month.

Just look at her standing there in all her velvety glory. Isn’t she lovely?

I say “she” just because these particular flowers lend themselves to being wonderfully womanly in their voluptuousness.

However, it is interesting to note that the female peony (Paeonia officinalis) and the male peony (P. mascula) have been used in Europe medicinally since time immemorial. It isn't quite clear today why they are referred to as male and female as both are male (having pollen/sperm) and both are female (having eggs within ovules that turn into seeds). So both "male" and "female" function within the same flower. However, some say male peonies can be larger than the females and history speaks of a few other theories but these are known as the common names for these plants today.

Christmas Velvet is a rare and very collectible plant of the herbaceous variety. Its large, full double, bomb-shaped blooms sporting many velvety petals are supported by sturdy stems and flower vigorously, close to the foliage. The leaves are relatively fine and compact which contributes to more open looking shrubbery than the average peony. It has a mild sweet fragrance, flowers May/June and reaches 80cm in height. Originating in the US it is very versatile as it can be used in landscaping and as a cut flower.

When looking at the breeding specs of this flower it has a seed parent (P. lactiflora) called "Mikado".

I don't know about you but that immediately had me singing that “Flowers that bloom in the Spring, tra-la” song from Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Mikado” here.

Between that and the pollen parent (P. officinalis 'Alba Plena' x P. peregrina (lobata Perry)) “Good Cheer” there’s so many reasons for having a good sing song!

So if you have a happy little slumbering Christmas Velvet in your garden already you will have found, like other peonies, it is happy in a sheltered position in any fertile, free-draining soil in full sun or part shade. (If you would like one, click on the image alongside to pre-order for next year)

If placed in a sunny position you will enjoy seeing the initial strong red-coloured bud fading beautifully as it opens. If in partial shade the red will deepen after opening. It’s best to find a position where there is a balance of sun and shade – too much shade and the amount of flowers per plant will likely decrease.

When it comes to red peonies, colours range from bright blood red, true red, orange-red to darker reds with brown, mahogany, sangria or wine overtones. Such is the marvel that is the peony that you could line up all the different varieties of red peonies next to each other and they would all be a different shade of red!

Speaking of wine, I'm sure you're aware that the sometimes bizarre tasting notes that can be found on the back of the bottles are all subjective (who wants to drink tobacco and grass cuttings?). It can be similar with peony colour definitions. Basically, their colour description is done by whomever is looking at them. And we all see colour differently, don’t we? I have found myself in quite a few heated discussions with friends over the years about whether a colour is more blue than it is green and vice versa. Or shall we agree to disagree that it’s just teal?

How would you describe the ruby red colour of these lovelies that are Christmas Velvet?