“Why should we join a peony society?” (this one, or any other), you might ask yourself. After all, you can simply grow them in your garden and enjoy them yourself. Well, a society has the benefit of bringing like-minded people together. Most societies (or their members) organise events where you can meet other members, visit member gardens, show your peony blooms and so on… These events just increase the pleasure that peonies will already give you, call it ‘Green Prozac’ if you like.


To illustrate how much nicer it is to share your peony experiences, I’ve copied this nice post from Bill Seidl, American peony addict…1
Sunday, Sep. 23, was an eventful day in my garden, the kind I’d describe in a garden diary — if I kept one, which I wish I had all these years.  I knew all week long that Nate Bremer (Reedsville) was coming to dig peonies.  On Sunday morning Peony Addict  Theresa (Iron Ridge) phoned and said she was coming up with Tony, her significant other, to collect htp (hybrid t.p.) seeds.  Shortly thereafter, Dennis Ledvina  (Green Bay) called to say he was going to drop by to collect magnolia seed that his friend Tom had hybridized in spring.

Nate arrived first, followed soon by Theresa and Tony.  Then Kris Casey dropped by, having been informed earlier by Nate of his plans. After awhile, both Dennis and Tom arrived.  They had stopped at my residence first to collect magnolia seeds there, then came out to the garden (2 miles from my home) to collect more seeds there.   They were introduced to Nate, who they had never met personally but knew of each other’s specialized garden interests.


I wanted to take a group picture with my digital camera which, altho quite new, already proved to have depleted batteries.  I couldn’t find my film camera, and no one else had brought theirs.  So there are no photos to refresh memories of the day.


Kris didn’t stay long.  Family acivities demanded her attention.  Before she left she said she wanted to buy a division of a plant that I had in the garden.  I thought it would be some rare daylily or peony cultivar.  Instead it was some sedum species.  I’m not sure of the name but it looks like it would be one parent of the hybrid Autumn Joy and similar cultivars.  It’s a bright pink, attractive to bees and butterflies, and sets viable seeds in abundance.


She also related a mystifying story concerning a neighbor man. In a state of depression he took his own life, leaving behind a wife and three young children.  Sometime before that he had promised Will, Kris’s husband, that he would help him cut down a large willow tree on their property. One the day of his funeral, the tree came crashing down. There was no storm, no rain, no wind. It fell between other plants, causing no harm to them, as if aimed to avoid damage. Coincidence? A supernatural event?Of peony interest, Nate mentioned that he harvested and planted a seed from Bartzella.  It was firm and a sinker in water.  Theresa was especially excited by this as she has frequently pollinated Bartzella and never found a trace of a seed.  Nate said he had not made any deliberate pollinations.    He also said he had purchased ‘Millennium’  earlier, a Roger Anderson origination.  Theresa said she had seen this in Roger’s garden and admired what she saw.


Dennis had told me earlier that he had sent magnolia budwood to Princeton Nurseries in the spring, and by fall they returned to him potted plants, 4′ to 5′ in height !!  If any of you do business with RareFind Nursery, you will find in their 2007 Supplement, recently mailed, many of Dennis’s originations.  I am most familiar with ‘Angelica’ , page 23, having grown it in my garden for about ten years, and having survived w/o any winter damage in my zone 5 climate.  The catalog description does not mention its wonderful fragrance.


Nate dug and divided peonies for several hours.  Some that he tackled were two old plants of Old Faithful, which are notoriously difficult to divide, but he did well.  Others were Mackinac Grand,  Etched Salmon, Greenland, a pink mutation of  Viking Full Moon, Seedling 74H120-2 (double black-red herb’s hybrid),  “Pastelorama”, my garden name for a very large herb’s hybrid in pink/salmon shades from Salmon Dream x an Anderson hybrid, Salmon Dream, Clare de Lune, and several lactis.  The  lactis were in my garden for many years but I was not interested in breeding lactis, they did not seem to be effective in the i-cross, and I needed the space for herb’s hybrids.  So I did not seek to retain any divisions for myself.


While Nate was doing this, with my help, Theresa and Tony were gathering htp seeds of both Theresa’s crosses and mine.  By mid-afternoon I joined them for a late lunch break, leaving Nate alone to finish digging and dividing.  We arrived at the restaurant in time to watch the last 3-4 minutes of the Packer/San Diego game, which the Packers won in the closing minutes.  From there we had to go to my home garden to collect seeds off a htp seedling there.  We also found two seeds on a cross of Alice Harding x sdlg 231 which I forgot that I had made.  AH hangs its head, so it was fortunate that Theresa spotted the seed-head.


When we returned to the main garden,  Nate was gone, having finished his work.  But there was still more htp seeds to be gathered.  These had all been placed in zip-lock snack bags and put into one box.  So our last chore was to separate my crosses from those made by Theresa.  We usually use different-color labels, but sometimes borrow from each other.  Most of the seeds included  some Irvine-Sutherland hybrids as pollen parents.  Roy Klehm had allowed pollen to be taken from them when Theresa and I visited SongSparrow last May.


Earlier in the week I had gathered some seeds off  Waucedah Princess, a big surprise.  But that’s a story in itself.  It was dusk when Theresa and Tony departed.


On the way home I thought it was a remarkable coincidence that all these good gardening friends of long standing had converged on my garden the same day.  That had never happened before.  You’d think that I had called them all up for free beer and bratwurst.



  1. Bill Seidl, “Sunday get together”, posted in the yahoo Peony Addicts group Sep 24, 2007.[]

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