Peonies in the garden, planted and painted

Jun 08, 2023

There may not be anything as perfectly ostentatious as a Peony. I moved into my garden in the late summer of 2017, and although I was excited about the possibilities, I did not really know what a gift the space was. And because I had not grown Peonies before, I didn't notice them in the sea of wild green that had enamored me enough to convince John that this should be our home (yes, there was a house attached to the garden, but that was less of a concern to me). 

So the following spring, when the strange red shoots poked through the chilly soil, and I googled what those could possibly be, I ran into the house yelling to John that we had literal gold in the garden! We had two varieties, a pale pink and white double, and a deep pink double (I will admit that I still do not know their names…). When they are in bloom for that short time  in mid to late spring, they definitely command all of the attention of the garden admirers. 

The inspiration to add to our collection came from our yearly visit to the  W.E. Upjohn Peony Garden in Nichols Arboretum which has over 270 cultivars! The peak bloom is like nothing I’ve ever experienced (There is a fabulous book!).

And the Botanic garden has an annual sale, so this year I finally  took the plunge and added Sea Shells, Krinkled White, and Nippon Beauty to our collection.

Part of the reason, of course, is that I love to paint them. And while I will never grow tired of describing the ones we have with paint, I really wanted to add some singles to the garden. They are just so graceful, and they add to the diversity of pollinator friendly flowers that I love so much. 

This week I painted the Sea Shells Peony for the Loose in the Garden series.


Family: Paeonaceae

Genus: Paeonia 

Species: There are about 30 species (and 15 sub-species)

Cultivars: I was unable to figure this out, but it is in the thousands!

Peonies are perennials, both herbaceous, and woody. Native to China, the wild, simple flowers used for medicinal purposes 2000 years ago. They were also prized for their beauty, and they began to create cultivars, which in the 1800s made their way to Europe and North America, where the Peony frenzy began.