Saturday 10th October saw us gathering once again at Ponteland Memorial Hall for a very colourful talk by Jo Bennison of Bennison Peonies.
Bennison Peonies is based just outside Lincoln in Market Rasen where they grow and propagate over 270 varieties of peonies in their fields for sale to trade and public.
There are three types of peony: tree peonies, herbaceous peonies, and new itoh hybrid peonies, which have the big tree peony flowers growing on a herbaceous bush. A good example of an itoh hybrid is the Peony ‘Julia Rose’ (pictured).
Peonies also take a variety of forms:
- Single, which has a single row of petals with stamens in the centre
- Semi double, which has two rows of petals with stamens in the centre
- Japanese, which has a double row of petal and small petaloids in the centre instead of stamens
- Double, which has no stamens or petaloids, just two rows of petals
- Bomb, which is large (up to 10” across), vigorous and has many bold petals
Peonies can be found in the wild across a wide swathe of Asia from north west Russia down to south east china, and from north Africa around the northern Mediterranean countries, so regardless of where your garden is you should be able to find a variety to suit. Peonies are generally easy to grow and very hardy, though they do prefer full sun (or sometimes semi shade), and they don’t like wet feet!
If you fancy trying your hand at propagating your favourite peony, make sure you do it in the autumn, and the easiest way is to collect seed, but this may not produce a peony which is true to form. If you have a tree peony, propagation involves grafting a short stem with a couple of buds on it onto a herbaceous root, and then waiting for 18 months.
Propagating herbaceous peonies is much easier, and involves digging up the roots after the plant has started to die back in the autumn, washing the roots, discarding any rotten roots and splitting. Make sure the root your are replanting has buds on it as these will form the plant next spring.