The peony Vanilla Schnapps is one of the very best peonies that can be found and one of my all-time favorites. It was originally distributed as Bill’s Best Yellow (seedling 79H18-2) since it is plant that originated in Bill Seidl’s garden. It resulted from a cross between 71Y6-1 x 74H119-5. 71Y6-1 was a single yellow, whilst 74H119-5 derives from Blushing Princess x H3 (an unregistered near double pink from Roy Pehrson). 74H119-5 was chosen for its very strong stems. The very strong stems is something Vanilla Schnapps has surely inherited, it stands firmly upright, no matter what the weather conditions may be. The cross was made in 1979 and first bloom was in 1982. Bill Seidl never liked propagating peonies (hybridizing was his interest), so until 2006 there were only 2 plants of it in his garden and only from then on has it been distributed. It was registered by Nate Bremer from Solaris Farms in 2013. It remains somewhat scarce at the moment.
When the new stems break through the ground in Spring, they are deep red whilst the buds are already visible from the very beginning. They turn into a deep green before flowering.
Where did Bill Seidl get the name for this? That can be found in an e-mail he sent to Roger Anderson:
Your daughter Marlene read my last email and responded to the part where I said I was looking for a good, registered name for “Bill’s Best Yellow”. She suggested “Vanilla Cream”. Since BBY is a very light yellow, that sounded just right. But exactly what is vanilla cream? I checked the internet and found that the Steven’s Point Brewery, in our own state of Wisconsin, makes “Point Premium Vanilla Cream” soda. Not an alcoholic drink. I had considered “Vanilla Schnapps” but this is perhaps not a classy name for tee-totalers.(1)
It has foliage all the way down to the ground, always a good characteristic in my opinion (it helps keep the soil free from weeds around the plant, divides the weight of the stems vertically so they’ll stand up better and you can cut some flowers from it without it losing the capability to grow.
It’s a very nice pale yellow, semi-double to double with large fragrant flowers and very large pretty buds. It is quite floriferous and has a few side-buds. It flowers early in the season (well before Red Charm here) and the foliage remains green all season long. It propagates well, Bill Seidl already reported that he had his first flower the third year after germination and it establishes itself rapidly after division.
This is one of the very few peonies where I cannot think of anything to improve upon. It is available from several nurseries, although still pricey, but this one is surely worth its money.
From all the positive characteristics, it may come as no surprise that it is being used in some hybridizing programs all over the world. I have used it a few times and have also some plants growing from seed I’ve received from Bill Seidl. Vanilla Schnapps seems to have some dominant genes as several of the plants are very alike in bush habit and foliage, but I have none as yet which I consider worthy of registration and introduction.
Some plants that may show up in the future (these are some from Bill Seidl):
If you have any experience growing this peony, feel free to post your experiences as a comment to this article.
- E-mail sent to Roger Anderson, March 25, 2010.