Some Early Peonies

 Actually, one of the earliest isn’t a peony – and it’s late: it’s a peony flowered tulip, one of the last to bloom.

Mt. Tacoma peony flowered tulip

Kristi Niedermann

This photo of ‘Mount Tacoma’ was taken just a couple of days ago in Maine, where the peonies themselves are still a (semi) distant promise. 

Here in the Hudson Valley – functionally about 2 weeks south – the real deal is starting to pop, beginning as usual with one of our inherited mysteries.

mystery double magenta peony, possibly 'Cincinnati'

 It looks a lot like ‘Cincinnati’. But ‘Cincinnati’ is midseason and this is among the earliest lactifloras to open. ‘Magenta Moon’ seemed likely until I looked up the date (on the Peony Checklist , provided by The American Peony Society). No good. ‘Magenta Moon’ didn’t rise until 1995, by which time the peony had been in place at least 15 years.

Truth is I haven’t done much research –  scrolling though peony pictures is far too dangerous. No matter how swiftly you move the cursor, to look at peonies is to want peonies, especially at places like Klehm’s and La Pivoinerie D’Aoust,

One good thing about peony lust is that it tends to supplant tulip lust, so I probably shouldn’t mention it, but here’s an aspect of ‘Mount Tacoma’ that isn’t part of the usual descriptions: Given very well drained soil and not too much fertilizer it comes back – at least in Maine, where mine have been returning faithfully for at least a decade.

More often than not the deer eat them (that’s why I stopped planting more in 1997) but that’s no knock on their longevity. ‘Mount Tacoma’ was introduced in 1924 and is still one of the most common whites, available almost everywhere, but just for the record I got mine from Scheepers.




Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Add to Google


  • Sarah Rolph Said,

    Our first peony opened today! I live in Carlisle, Mass.

  • Leigh Said,

    Ah, I envy you your peonies. Here it’s pretty much far too hot for them, though I have heard of a fellow in Houston who has a lovely garden full of them. I have no idea how he’s he managed that. I would love to try some, mainly in memory of my mother and father, who had some success with them back in East Texas many years ago. Daddy called them “peoninnies”.

  • leslie Said,


    I sympathize. No amount of fancy azaleas ( your last comments suggest you have lots) would reconcile me to a garden without lilacs, peonies and rhubarb. But I in turn am jealous of your jasmine, agaves… and FIGS!

    a project for another time, but if we could figure out an express trade I’ll send you peonies if you send me figs.

Get a Trackback link

Leave a Comment