At Natchez Glen House, the Paeonia has always been a plant that intrigues me. Its goblet-shaped flowers grab attention in the spring, but then its performance dwindles, leaving a rather lifeless area in warm climates. But, is it worth it? Yes, no, and it depends.
In warm regions, growing peonies alone is a boring choice. However, in more moderate climates, Peonies are a lonely plant and live their best life when surrounded by friends. The Paeonia lactiflora, the species parent of most of the peonies we grow in gardens, is native to Western China, Siberia, and Mongolia. Their origins tell us a lot about who they are. Peonies having evolved in these cool climates need chill time, and their anatomy requires cool weather as rest.
Despite me being intimately aware I am not able to grow the same quality of peony as in cooler climates, I grow nearly 200 peonies here at Natchez Glen. I grow peonies for that moment in spring where they take my breath away if even for a moment.
There are hybrids of herbaceous and tree peonies called either Itoh or intersectional peonies that need to be trialed in a much more comprehensive way to see their heat tolerance. Peonies are slow and growing peonies from seed can take up to six years before you see one flower. But beyond our awareness of all of the species of peonies, there is also the role of incredible breeding that has created so many exquisite varieties.
At Natchez Glen House, we have curated a Peony Garden inspired by the phrase Peony Meadow. It features an array of peonies that bloom early, mid, and late. Some are large doubles and others that have an anemone form, far better than the mundane choices of pink, red, or white. We believe that every garden deserves a Peony Meadow.