Nestled in the broken shade on the east side of the Garden’s brick road adjacent to the Meditation Garden, more than 20 different hybrid peony varieties, fernleaf peonies, and two tree peonies can be found. The Peony Garden was originally planted in 1992 as a memorial to the parents of one of the Garden’s early supporters, Margaret Tillotson. Frank Lloyd Wright design planters are featured at the entrance to the Peony Garden.
Peonies belong to the genus Paeonia, named after the Greek god Paion, physician to the gods and mythological discoverer of the medicinal applications of many herbs. As many as 2,000 years ago, herbaceous peonies were widely cultivated by the Chinese, primarily for its medicinal root.
Tree peonies, the national flower of China, were prized by 7th century Chinese as ornamentals, and were called the ‘King of Flowers.’ Buddhist monks are believed to have brought the tree peony to Japan in the early part of the 8th century. The Japanese extensively hybridized the plants to produce flowers with elegant lines, clearer coloring, and lighter weight. The first tree peonies were brought to Europe in 1786 and to America in 1832.
This garden is best viewed from mid-May to mid-June. Highlights are listed and briefly described below.
‘Moon River’- Blooms midseason, double flowers; large deep cream flowers with a pink blush.
‘Paul M. Wild’ - Blooms midseason, double flower; red velvety petals that do not fade.
‘Coral Supreme’ - Blooms early in the season, semi-double flowers; salmon-coral blossoms.
‘Festiva Supreme’ - Blooms midseason, bomb flower; white petals, those in the center are tipped with red.
‘Mikado’ - Blooms midseason, Japanese flower; dark crimson.
‘Dolorodell’ - Blooms late in the season, double flower; cameo-pink petals.
‘Raspberry Sundae’ - Blooms midseason, bomb flower; white petals topped with raspberry red.
‘Cheddar Supreme’ - Blooms midseason, Japanese flower; large white petals around a golden center.
‘Coral Charm’ - Blooms early in the season, semi-double flower; coral-peach flower.
‘Vesuvian’ - Semi-double flower; deep maroon red petals.
‘Phillipe Riviore’ - Blooms late in the season, double flower; small to medium-sized flowers have glossy red petals.
‘Glory Hallelujah’ - Blooms late in the season, double flower; the silver-tipped petals are a blend of reds and pinks.
‘Fernleaf’ - Blooms very early, single flower; red blooms with golden centers.
‘Red Charm’ - Blooms early in the season, double flower; deep red ruffled petals.
‘Norma Volz’ - Blooms midseason, double flower; crimson center surrounded by highlighted white petals.
‘Paula Fay’ - Blooms early in the season; waxy petals are a deep pink.
‘Sea Shell’ - Blooms midseason, single flower; delicate pink flower.
‘Violet Dawson’ - Blooms midseason, Japanese flower; white blossom.
‘President Taft’ - Blooms late in the season, double flower; large pink blooms.
‘Kinkaku’ - Ball flower; yellow petals tipped in red.
‘Shintenchi’ - Semi-double flower; extremely large, ruffled cameo-pink flowers.