Carsten Burkhardt's Web Project Paeonia - The Peony Library
The Manual of the American Peony Society
EDITED BY JAMES BOYD
Copyright 1928 by American Peony Society
FAVORED PEONIES IN AMERICA
editor's note.The following are extracts from letters received by the editor who wrote to growers in different sections and asked when peonies bloomed in their locality, the character of the soil, and the extreme temperature which the plants were obliged to withstand. They were also asked to name the dozen that seemed to do best in their sections.
IT IS always of interest to know how widely the peony is grown satisfactorily. This is of great value to the beginner who wishes to know whether he can be assured of good results and what varieties or classes will give him best returns. Some peonies bloom better in one part of the country than in others. As a general rule, varieties of loose petalage are the best for the South and localities where extreme heat comes quickly. Very late sorts, with tight buds and full flowers, need cool, somewhat moist weather to make them open at their best.
Obviously, if the northern and southern limits are found, the territory lying between will be congenial to the peony.
Supt. W. R. Leslie, of the Experimental Farms at Morden, Manitoba, Canada, writes:
I believe the peony is the most widely popular of all flowers grown on the prairies of Canada. We have never lost any from winter-killing or have heard of anyone else who has. We seldom get it colder than 30 below zero, but in Saskatchewan and Alberta this flower does fully as well as here, and 40 below zero is occasionally known to them. As a rule we have snow part of the winter. The lowest temperature usually lasts from one to three days at a stretch.
Our peonies get no mulch whatsoever, but beds of peonies on exposed side of lawn sometimes are surrounded by brush in order to trap snow.
Peonies are generally best the last week of June and early part of
From the 1927 results, a dozen varieties are selected: Festiya Maxima, Couronne d'Or, Mme. de VerneVille, Therese, M. Jules Elie, Sarah Bernhardt (Lemoine), La Perle, Karl Rosenfield, Felix Crousse, Edulis Superba, Philomele, and Tourangelle.
Mr. A. Wilson, of Portage La Prairie, Manitoba, writes:
I have been growing peonies in Manitoba for twenty-five years and have never lost a plant on account of the cold. I never cover them; even the newly planted ones are left without cover. Some winters there is no snow on them. The temperature sometimes gets to 40 degrees below zero; not very often, however.
MANUAL OF THE AMERICAN PEONY SOCIETY
Situated 55 miles west of Winnipeg, on the main lines of the Canadian National and Canadian Pacific Railways, we have shipped peony roots to all parts of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, and they have done well in most cases.
From a little farther west, Mr. J. Neilson, of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, writes:
Saskatoon is situated in north latitude 52 degrees. We have a short summer, a long cold winter, and little spring or autumn. Early in May we jump suddenly into summer, and in October back again into winter.
I have sometimes thought when the peony was first brought to Saskatchewan it must have felt as if it were coming back home, for our climate is not unlike that of its native southern Siberia. It certainly does seem to enjoy our severe climate, and can laugh at 50 degrees below zero.
During the twelve years I have been growing peonies, the lowest recorded temperature at Saskatoon has been 53 degrees below zero, but I have never known a plant to be killed by frost, or noticed any deterioration in bloom in a summer following an unusually cold winter. I have heard of plants said to have been winter-killed, but upon investigation have decided that overexposure to moisture in early spring, with alternate thawing and freezing, rather than severe frost, caused the loss. In recent years I have been planting peonies shallower than formerly. When I started I was advised to plant with the buds 3 inches below the surface, but now I plant them about iyf to 2 inches below and have not noticed any bad effects. No mulch is used after the first winter. Damage from late spring frosts is quite infrequent.
The peony season opens here about June 20, and by a selection of early and late varieties from Umbellata Rosea to Marie Lemoine it may be prolonged to about one month. The first week in July is usually the height of the season.
I find it difficult to express a preference for varieties. Of about fifty varieties growing in our garden, I would probably select as the best dozen, M. Jules Elie, Le Cygne, Richard Carvel, Festiva Maxima, Longfellow, Karl Rosenfield, Therese, Mary Brand, Frances Willard, Walter Faxon, Philippe Rivoire, and Madame de Vern6ville. Among my first purchases I secured M. Jules Elie, and I would still recommend it to a beginner rather than any other one variety. It has a combination of good qualities, not the least of which is its reliability it can be depended upon to bloom well every year.
Not having had an opportunity of comparing our specimens of bloom with those produced farther south, I cannot express an opinion, but have observed that any kind of plant which is adapted to this cold climate blooms to a high state of perfection. It is, I think, also a fact that all flowering plants, the peony included, bloom with a greater brilliancy and intensity of color in our more northern latitudes.
The peony, I believe, is destined to become the perennial for the prairies of western Canada. There are thousands of farmhouses in Saskatchewan standing on the bare prairie which should be, and I believe some day will be, surrounded by trees, shrubs, and flowers.
FAVORED PEONIES IN AMERICA
Unfortunately, many of the finest perennials do not succeed here, but in the peony we have one which can defy our winter's frost and which it would almost seem conies back reinvigorated after our severest winters.
Mr. John Walker, Assistant Superintendent of the Dominion Experimental Farms at Indian Head, Saskatchewan, Canada, says:
The season of bloom at Indian Head is from the middle of June to the end of July. The season has varied not more than a matter of several days during the past few years. Peonies survive the winter with a light covering of strawy manure which is removed before the ground thaws in the spring. Fall planting is recommended. The soil is of a clay loam nature and even m dry years remains moist if the surface is kept loose and cracking prevented.
The minimum temperature for the winter of 1926-27 was as follows: Average for five months (November to March) 1.02° F. Average for three months (December to February) 8.46° F. Lowest temperature January 20, 44° F.
Prof. Ivan W. Goodner, of Seattle, Wash., tells us as follows:
I was asked to write about "varieties that do well in the northwestern section of the United States." This would seem to indicate a belief that some varieties are not adapted to this extreme northwestern corner of our country, but I know none that does not do as well here as elsewhere. In fact, the soil and climate seem to be particularly suited to ideal growth of the peony. Perhaps it was suspected that the influence of the Japan Current would cause early and hot summers. While our spring usually opens earlier than east of the Rocky Mountains, our summer weather is never hot, as it is in other portions of the United States. Here peony buds are never forced into premature bloom by the sudden oncoming of really hot weather.
I grow upward of 260 varieties, including the best of the old-timers, such as Festiva Maxima, Edulis Superba, Marie Lemoine, Mme. Emile Lemoine, Duchesse de Nemours, Due de Wellington, and so on, and all do splendidly here. This is equally true of new varieties and novelties, so far as I have had opportunity to compare their growth and blooming qualities with those I have seen growing in the larger peony gardens in the East and Middle West. One grower in Oregon has reported that M. Jules Elie does not do well with him, but the reason must be local, for this variety makes superb growth and bloom elsewhere on the North Coast. Philippe Rivoire nas not made as vigorous growth as I would like, but similar reports have come to me from the East about this variety. The Japs and Singles make fine growth and bloom here. The vigor of Ama-no-sode, Some-ganoko, Tamate-Boku, Mikado, Fuyajo, Isani Gidui, and King of England, Japanese varieties, and Helen, Pride of Langport, and L'Etincelante, singles, is very marked.
MANUAL OF THE AMERICAN PEONY SOCIETY
So far as I know or have heard, there is no peony that will not flourish on the North Pacific Coast and in central and northern California. Several varieties, as Reine Hortense, Eugenie Verdier, M. Jules Elie, Le Cygne, and some others, are reported to be flourishing south of San Francisco. My belief is that all strong-growing varieties, except the late bloomers, could be made to do welleven in the southern half of California. Notably fine peony-gardens are to be found at Los Gatos and vicinity. In Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and the coastal regions of British Columbia, the winters are so mild that the ground seldom freezes, and when frost does come it is very light and is soon gone, so that digging and planting can be done throughout the winter. Root-growth goes on somewhat during the winter season, though a period of rest and partial dormancy is indicated by the dying off of the stems and foliage in late November. My practice is to cut off the stalks about 4 inches from the ground as soon as the leaves turn brown and immediately burn them. In western Washington and Oregon there is usually very little rain during the summer, but if the ground is frequently cultivated, to produce a dust-mulch, or covered with about 2 inches of peat-moss after spring rains have ceased in late May or early June, growth proceeds without interruption and with less tendency to spindly growth than when rains continue more or less throughout the summer, as happened in 1927.
In selecting my favorite dozen, beauty of the flower alone has not been my guide, but foliage, freedom and dependability of bloom, as well as perfection in the flower.
My favorite dozen: Adolphe Rousseau and Cherry Hill, reds; James Kelway and Frances Willard, whites; Jeannot, Madelon, Phyllis Kelway, Therese, Lady Alexandra Duff, Souv. de Louis Bigot, Martha Bulloch, and Mabel L. Franklin, pinks of varying shades. If this is a "baker's dozen," add Reine Hortense, which I consider one of the world's very best.
It will be noticed that Kelway's Glorious, Solange, Le Cygne, and Tourangelle are absent from the list. Entrancingly beautiful, top-notchers in the ratings, the regal aristocrats of peonydom, as they are all freely conceded to be, they do not have the seductive charm for me that I find in the warmer colors.
Mrs. Francis H. McCullagh, writes from Los Gatos, which is 50 miles south of San Francisco, that the highest temperature reached during a recent peony blooming-season was 94 degrees. She says:
Ninety-four in May, when most peonies bloom, hurts the flowers that day, but our heat is all in the sun, and without humidity, so that the evenings and nights are cool, even cold. I find no difficulty in raising very fine peonies if I avoid very late bloomers, and flowers with very full petalage and reds. The sun hurts the reds badly and for the close-petaled flowers the trouble is that the outer petals dry before they can open, and there you are!
This happens to Le Cygne. I can rarely get a perfect flower from
FAVORED PEONIES IN AMERICA
the main bud, but the side buds are smaller, looser, and beautiful. Bayadere comes perfect.
I do not think the absence of frost and snow has any effect on my peonies except to allow them to bloom earlier. Wittmaniana hybrids bloom in March, and albiflora hybrids begin about April 20. I have blooms well into Juneseven to eight weeks.
I will try to name my favorite twelvecould more easily name fifty! My personal choice, that do best here: Pallas, Phyllis Kelway, Sulphurea, Due de Wellington, Mme. Jules Dessert, Albatre, Ginette, Judge Berry, Laura Dessert, La Lorraine, Milton Hill, and Primevere.
Of Japs I like best: Margaret Atwood, Isani Gidui, Alma, and Ama-no-sode. I have been growing peonies more than twenty years. Have about 105 varieties and have discarded many.
We have no records of peonies through the Southwest, but, coming east, Mr. Sam L. Graham, of Rome, Ga., has this to say:
I am growing probably one hundred different varieties of peonies, some of which I have had for six years, others for only one and two years. I cannot report on the latter ones because they have not had typical blooms. All my plants are growing splendidly and are looking robust and healthy. I do not see why some of our northern growers claim peonies are unsuitable for the South. It may be they are in some sections. However, I do not think it due to climatic conditions but possibly to the soil they are planted in. Here we have a rich clay soil. My beds are prepared according to the usual catalogue instruction which leaves a good clay subsoil. Thus planted they seem to thrive and do splendidly. In the past few years I have had remarkable blooms. The temperature here rarely ever rises beyond 100 degrees F. I should say 80 to 100 degrees is the average. I keep my plants well watered during a period of drought and fertilize with well-rotted cow-manure, bone-meal, and wood-ashes. The following twelve would be my choice of those I can report upon, but I am looking forward to equally good results from newer varieties when they become thoroughly established.
M. Jules Elie, Festiva Maxima, Felix Crousse, Jubilee, Therese, Martha Bulloch, James Kelway, Madame Jules Dessert, Madame Calot, Baroness Schroeder, Edulis Superba, and Longfellow.
I like the following nearly or possibly as well: Marie Crousse, Karl Rosenfield, Venus, Tourangelle, Zest, Eucharis, Alsace-Lorraine, Reine Hortense, La Perle, Lady Alexandra Duff, Sarah Bernhardt (Lemoine).
Solange and Walter Faxon do especially well and, while somewhat shy bloomers, are especially beautiful. I consider the blooms of these two superior to all others. Of the newer varieties I have Le Cygne, Auguste Dessert, La France, Jeannot, Mary Woodbury Shaylor, Georgiana Shaylor, Lillian Gumm, Philippe Rivoire, Souvenir de Louis Bigot, Milton Hill, Phoebe Gary, Phyllis Kelway, Cherry Hill, Judge Berry, Ruth Brand, Mary Brand, William F. Turner, and some others. These are all growing nicely and I am anticipating some splendid results.
MANUAL OF THE AMERICAN PEONY SOCIETY
Mr. Pope M. Long, of Cordova, Ala., writes for Bulletin No. 34 of the American Peony Society, as follows:
Peonies certainly grow nicely as far south as Atlanta, Ga., Birmingham, Ala., and, possibly, as far as Montgomery, Ala. I have never seen any growth in Montgomery, however. My home, Cordova, Ala., is in the same latitude as Birmingham, and I have successfully grown peonies for twenty-five years. The temperature rarely goes over 105 degrees F. I never plant the late, full, rose type as they rarely do well over a period of years; the buds often refuse to open. The semi-rose type, also the bomb and crown type in the early midseason bloomers, are more reliable. I plant the roots so that the buds are barely covered with earth. I know of no better fertilizer than a fifty-fifty mixture of bone-meal and wood-ashes. The best soil is a clay or a loam with a clay foundation.
I have tested out hundreds of varieties, and, while it is hard to limit myself to only twelve, I know that the following are good growers in the South:
Kelway's Glorious. All Kelway varieties seem just to suit the South. Festiva Maxima. Old, but there is nothing better for general planting. Primeve're. The best yellow and whitea most lovely peony. TniRisE. I put this one in capitals as I consider it the best peony
of any color.
Edulis Superba. A good, deep pinkcheap in price only. Marguerite GeVard. This is an exception to all peonies in that it seems
to thrive better in the South than in the North. It is the most
vigorous grower I have, and often has stems 4 feet long. I had a
row of six of this variety that produced over two hundred perfect
blooms. If it had fragrance it would be ideal. Walter Faxon. A wonderful pink. I rate it as the best peony of
American origination. A fine bloomer, too. Richard Carvel. If money were no object, I would take Philippe
Rivoire. Both these varieties are sweetly fragrant. I know of no
reds that are except these two. Masterpiece. Felix Crousse is equally good but not as strong in
growth. Mikado. All southern gardens should include several Japs as they are
the best bloomers of all. Mikado is a fine red. I have counted one
hundred perfect blooms upon one extra-large clump. King of
England is just as good but no better, as the two are almost identical. Fuyajo. A man's peony of deep crimson. Most spectacular peony
I have in my garden. It simply will not be ignored. Isani-Gidui. Nothing superior in a white Jap.
The best blossom in my garden in 1927 was from Martha Bulloch. Other varieties that are special favorites o_f mine are Miss Salway, Lady Alexandra Duff, Mabel L. Franklin, Pride of Essex, and a red that promises to be my best garden varietyCherry Hill. For lawn only
FAVORED PEONIES IN AMERICA
I consider Umbellata rosea the peer of them all. For exhibition Le Cygne stands at the head.
Mr. George W. Peyton, of Rapidan, Va., treats very thoroughly of the varieties which he has found best adapted to his section of the country. We quote his letter in full.
It seems to be a prevalent idea that peonies will not grow well south of the Ohio and Potomac rivers, unless they are given some special treatment and coddled as we would sickly babies. Just the opposite of this is the truth. In the writer's section of Virginia, peonies grow and bloom year after year, better than any other flower under cultivation and with less expenditure of effort on the part of the gardener. In a collection of approximately two thousand named varieties, there are probably less than one hundred that do not do well. Almost invariably these are the very late bloomers of compact build. Those of loose formation nearly always open perfectly. The only early or midseason peony that does not do well is, strange to say, the one most commonly considered the best in the world, Le Cygne. It seems to be very easily affected by adverse weather conditions and does not come perfect except very occasionally. The writer has seen it approximately 10 inches in diameter and as fine as could be grown anywhere, but generally it refuses to open well. Some of the very highest rated lates only come perfect once in four or five years, such as Addielanchea, Enchanteresse, La France, Loveliness, and Milton Hill. These develop the most beautiful buds which grow and grow until you think you will surely have bloom of surpassing size and marvelous loveliness, but, alas, when the time comes for them to open they only get far enough to give you a tantalizing glimpse of what might be and then promptly dry up and fade away. This happens year after year with only an occasional let-up as in 1926 when even Enchanteresse made blooms that were truly wonderful in size and beauty.
The farther south you go the more liable you are to find failures with the late bloomers, and when Florida and Texas are reached almost no peonies will bloom. Some varieties, however, do bloom in the northern part of Florida.
Of the 58 peonies which received a ra_ting of 8.5 or better with twenty or more votes in the 1921 Symposium, only the following are unreliable in the South: Albltre or Avalanche, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Enchanteresse, La France, Le Cygne, Loveliness, Marie Lempine, Milton Hill, Solange, and Tourangelle. Of these, Avalanche, Marie Lemoine, Solange, and Tourangelle are unreliable only about every other year. They often bloom as perfectly here as in any section of the country. Of the approximately 300 varieties rated 8.0 or better, less than 2<; do badly. These will be found to fail very often in the best peony sections of the North also, as reports will show.
A good rule for the South is to plant only those peonies which bloom early or in midseason, unless one is sure the variety will open well. All singles and Japs may be counted on to do wellthe writer has yet to find one that does not. Probably the best of the singles are
MANUAL OF THE AMERICAN PEONY SOCIETY
The Bride, Le Jour, Nellie, Pride of Langport, Presto, and The Moor. Of the Japs the following will be found excellent: Ama-no-sode, Aureolin, Fuyajo, Isani-Gidui, Mikado, Noonday, Some-ganoko, Tamate-Boku, and Tokio. But any variety listed may be planted with assurance. The very early-flowering singles, such as Avant Garde, Le Printemps, Mai fleuri, Messagere, and Russi Major usually do well.
The following double varieties will be found to be very reliable for the person who wishes the best in every way; the first list of fifty is from the very well-known varieties: Adolpne Rousseau, Alsace-Lorraine, Baroness Schroeder, Boule de Neige, Cherry Hill, Couronne d'Or, Due de Wellington, Duchesse de Nemours, Edulis Superba, Eugenie Verdier, Evangeline, Felix Crousse, Festiva Maxima, Frances Willard, Georgiana Shaylor, Gigantea, Golden Harvest, James Kel-way, Jeanne d'Arc, Jeannot, Jubilee, Judge Berry, Karl Rosen-field, Kelway's Glorious, Lady Alexandra Duff, Laura Dessert, Longfellow, Luetta Pfeiffer, Madame Calot, Madame Crousse, Madame de Verneville, Madame Emile Lemoine, Madame Jules Dessert, Monsieur Dupont, Monsieur Jules Elie, Monsieur Martin Cahuzac, Mrs. Edward Harding, Octavie Demay, Philippe Rivoire, Philomele, Phyllis Kelway, Primevere, Raoul Dessert, Reine Hortense (President Taft), Richard Carvel, Sarah Bernhardt (Lemoine), Souvenir de Louis Bigot, Therese, Umbellata Rosea, Virginie, and Walter Faxon.
The old variety, Whitleyi, or Queen Victoria, will probably open better further south than almost any other, if you will be content with only biennial bloom, by all means try Avalanche, Marie Lemoine, Solange, and Tourangelle. Their surpassing beauty more than compensates for their failures.
Kelway's varieties seem to be especially well fitted for the South. Kelway's Glorious is undoubtedly the best peony in existence in the South. It never fails to bloom every year on every stem on every plant, even one-eye divisions almost invariably throwing bloom the first year. It has every quality that goes to make the perfect peony size, beauty of form, freedom of bloom, and fragrance that is probably the most delicious of any peony. Lady Alexandra Duff will do equally well on mature plants. Phyllis Kelway does excellently and is a most beautiful peony.
Th6rese will do as well as Kelway's Glorious but it does not have the fragrance that Glorious has. Otherwise it is just as fine.
For those who wish to have some of the newer ones, the following can be planted with assurance that good results will be obtained:
Shaylor's are all good and especially Cornelia Shaylor, Minnie Shaylor, Nell Shaylor, Rose Shaylor, Shaylor's Dream, and Wilton Lockwood.
Of Thurlow's varieties, Edwin C. Shaw, Nymphaea, Pride of Essex, President Wilson, James R. Mann, and Thomas C. Thurlow will certainly give a good account of themselves.
Of Mr. Brand's beautiful peonies, in addition to those mentioned in the first list, Benjamin Franklin, Charles McKellip, Henry Avery, Martha Bulloch and Mrs. A. G. Ruggles are among the best. Of his very new ones, owing to the lack of experience, not much can yet be
FAVORED PEONIES IN AMERICA
said, except that Victory Chateau Thierry is a sure one and probably Myrtle Gentry and Mrs. John M. Kleitsch will do well. Let us all nope all of them will do well.
As Judge Vories peonies are natives of a rather warm section, they should all do well. Lady Kate has bloomed very beautifully in the writer's garden.
Mr. Edward Auten's introductions should also be given a trial as they seem to the writer to be well adapted to the conditions of growth in the South.
Good & Welsh's John M. Good is certainly a top-notcher. Wet-tengel's Martha A. Twyman and Margaret Vierheller have also given good accounts of themselves in the writer's garden.
Earnshaw's Daphne and Pompilia are very fine. Lillian Gumm is good. Mrs. Crawford's The Eagle bloomed well on a very small plant. Neeley's Floweret of Eden and Gloriana have shown themselves of the first quality.
Of Dessert's newer creations certainly Candeur, Elisa, Chariot, Inspecteur Lavergne, Madame Edouard Doriat, Nanette, Rita, and Rosette will do well.
Lemoine's peonies, as a general rule, are hard to grow well and do not bloom satisfactorily for several years after they are planted. But they are then marvels of beauty. His Alice Harding is destined to rank at the top whether it be North, South, East, or West, on account of its beauty of growth as well as of bloom. Argentine, Denise, and Jocelyn are excellent. Bertrade has very massive blooms. Bayadere and La Lorraine are blooms that can hardly be beaten, but it is hard to get them.
Millet's new ones, Maman Millet, Reine Baronet, and Souvenir de A. Millet will be found very fine.
Goos & Koenemann's Biebrich, Emmchen, Gretchen, Lorch, Wiesbaden, and Strassburg are very good.
The writer has been asked to name his favorite dozen. He wishes to say they have been chosen solely on the grounds of personal preference and not from the way they perform; they are as follows: Kelway's Glorious, Therese, Lady Alexandra Duff, Festiva Maxima, Solange, Phyllis Kelway, Jubilee, Baroness Schroeder, Edulis Superba, James Kelway, Eugenie Verdier, and Madame Emile Lemoine.
[GROWING THE PEONY]