Peonies have long been a favourite garden perennial and because of their extreme hardiness, they can be enjoyed right across our country. Once established, they are one of the longest-living plants, providing a lifetime of garden enjoyment and a bounty of lovely cut flowers.
Recently, their popularity has exploded, and the demand is so strong that floral wholesalers are importing them year-round. At the flower auction in Burnaby, it’s not unusual to see single blooms sell for $4 to $5 a stem — and that’s the wholesale price.
This demand is primarily driven by younger people who have a passion for the beautiful, fragrant peony blooms. Despite many new hybrids, the old-time Paeonia lactifloras, many developed over 100 years ago, are causing the excitement. Among the best golden oldies are Paeonia ‘Felix Crousse’, a rich red; P. ‘Festiva Maxima’, a fully double white with tiny red flecks; and P. ‘Sarah Bernhardt’, a deep rose pink.
We are in the middle of peony season, and this month the Canadian Peony Society’s National Peony Festival is taking place in Castlegar. The society, established in Ontario in 1998, was formed to raise awareness of this beautiful plant.