Some of our peonies most loved for cutting are not necessarily convenient to have included in a dressed up landscape and it has long been our practice to include at the item entries information on grooming and maintenance we feel you might find useful. Again this year we have designated certain peonies as Best Landscaper® and tagged them in their description. These peonies generally exhibit a more desirable blossom form and bush habit for flowering in those spaces where you want things to stay "dressed up" i.e., the viewed landscape. Such designation reflects our subjective judgment, of course, but judgment honed upon several decades of critical observation. Nevertheless we expect you may very well have other preferences. In general, we have reserved this band for those sorts that not only hold up well for their flower type with or without mechanical supports, but also can be expected to maintain acceptable bush appearance into later summer. The latter, however, varies with soil and climate; therefore our choices will be less reliable for some other regions.
Not all peonies are created equal. In our descriptions we emphasize landscape advantages and cautions, what one might want to know in selecting peonies to be flowered for public or private landscape viewing (in contrast to a cutting garden).
LANDSCAPE STANDARDS - We give special attention to both bush habit and flower placement. We prefer peonies that stand strongly, whether the stems are naturally erect or spreading ones that will stand while in flower, with minimum or no mechanical support. We also want them to present their flowers near the foliage, not on extra long stems. This not only imparts a nice feeling of harmony between bush and flower; it can reduce the bush-distorting, stem-breaking leverage of heavier double flowers when waterlogged by rain.
MECHANICAL SUPPORT - Of course, it is an individual choice how much grooming challenge one is willing to put up with. When a particular color and type of flower is wanted, the prospect of extra grooming is not likely to stand in the way. Fortunately, strategies are available for keeping the stems up while in flower. A readily contrived solution, which may be found sufficient, comes from peony enthusiast and nurseryman, David Furman. Encircle the plant in large mesh chicken wire as the shoots emerge in spring. Make the circle of a size and height that the vegetation growing through and over the mesh hides the mechanics.
EXTRA LONG STEMS - However, when the flowers stand high above the foliage and are to be left on the plant, no hidden device is going to prevent the tendency for stem breakage. Only individually placed stakes will be reasonably neat and keep the flowers balanced above the bush. Historically, long stems have been valuable for the florist trade. Thus, many peonies having this character have been propagated and continue to be offered. Busy persons gardening for nice landscape appearance, may find it most satisfactory to grow these sorts in a cutting bed, away from the most viewed areas of the grounds, such that grooming demand is minimized.
RECOMMENDATIONS - Please understand that we do not claim that all peonies offered herein are well suited for landscaping, nor do we imagine that they are wanted for landscape design; some are wanted for cutting, some for show table competition, others just wanted. The principal reason we have these items is simple, we are growers and this is their year to be dug. We do intend to tell you the truth, as we understand it. We hope that what we have to say will help and does not mislead. Ultimately, however, selection is the responsibility of the buyer.
Additional information on using peonies in your landscape can be found in the article Landscape Placement of Peonies found in the About Peonies directory on this website.