James Kelway (1954)

This is the first specialised handbook on the paeony, one of those plants which, after years of neglect, is now forging ahead in popularity among gardeners. Exquisite new varieties have been developed with all the hardy qualities of the common cottage crimson paeony, but with colours rivalling even the roses. No man did more to establish the paeony in its rightful place than the late James Kelway, whose tremendous enthusiasm and unique experience is reflected in these pages.

The paeony is one of the easiest plants to cultivate, wanting little more than room. It flowers in late May and early June before the roses and carnations, thus providing a locus of interest in the garden in that rather blank patch between spring and summer profusion. It is a wonderful plant for cutting, its extraordinarily decorative foliage, changing colour as the season advances, would be worth cultivating even if the plant did not flower, while the spectacular effect of its blooms - pink, while and cream as well as crimson - is unrivalled.

Gardeners who do not know the modern paeony will be astounded at the delicate beauties of colour and shape revealed in the plates oi' this book. The list of varieties is up-to-date and authoritative, the hints on selection and cultivation include everything the grower could wish to know.

With 15 coloured plates

The Paeony illustrated on this wrapper is Kelway's Rose of Delight.

10S. 6d. net

Rose of Delight


Evening World

Baroness Schroeder

Kelway's Lovely

Bridal Veil

Admiral Harwood

Whitleyi Major

Queen Alexandra

President Poincaré

Pink Delight

Edith Cavell

TP Elizabeth

TP Yano Okima

Adolphe Rousseau

Lord Kitchener


IT seems to me surprising as well as unfortunate that the paeony-one of the loveliest of all flowers and available to all who own a plot of ground-is not as widely known to the general public in Britain as it is in the United States of America. If, in the following pages, I can in some small measure, remedy this I shall indeed be glad, for I have spent a long life cultivating and popularizing these beautiful flowers, which have rewarded me with the purest pleasure. I have written this book to make the charm and the variety of the paeony more widely known and all the information given refers entirely to varieties suitable for general cultivation. Those who may be interested in a botanical account of the genus Paeonia and of its series of exotic species may be directed to F. C. Stern's A Study of the Genus Paeonia, a monumental work of unique research, published by the Royal Horticultural Society. This little book is a labour of love, addressed to garden lovers.



James Kelway, the author of this book, died on August 8, 1952, at the age of 81. The publishers would like to acknowledge the assistance which Mr. J. O. Lloyd, Managing Director of Kelway & Son Ltd., has given in bringing the list of varieties up to date and also in kindly lending the blocks for the colour illustrations.

Some of the material in the book formerly appeared in Gardens and Gardening, Volume 3, published by The Studio Limited.


The characteristics of the paeony

OF the hardy perennial herbaceous plants which flower in early summer the members of the paeony family are, in my view, the most beautiful and desirable. Although I have been closely associated from childhood with other leading flower families-gladioli, delphiniums, pyrethrums and lupins amongst them-the paeony has my undoubted preference over them all.

The habit of the plant, the form and colouring of its foliage, the infinite variety, beauty, profusion and fragrance of its flowers, as well as its extreme hardiness, vigour and ease of culture, make the paeony, in my estimation, the best of all the hardy perennial non-shrubby plants for gardens in these islands, and indeed in any country of the temperate and sub-arctic zones. The very carriage of the plant raises it above other hardy plants of its season, and indeed no border plant which succeeds it during the year has a more distinguished appearance. The modern delphinium is superb in foliage and flower colour but has no scent and the blooms lack the variety of form and colour tones which the paeony displays. Nor does the plant flower so early in the year. The rose and rhododendron, being shrubs, are outside the comparison.

The sheer loveliness of the blooms of the June-flowering varieties (and of the "tree" or shrubby kinds) is so extraordinary that it seems impossible to find words for the innumerable colour values, the texture of petal and the purity and symmetry of line and outline of many of the large, handsome blossoms. "Colour charts", while helpful, are not completely satisfactory; for gradations of tints perceptible by the sensitive eye must be gathered under one colour-name in any published chart. For colour is not only dependent upon the kind of light reflected from the surface of the object, but also by the texture of the surface. The flowers of the paeony are particularly affected by alterations in the light. The flowers, magnificent in full sunlight at noon, are still more stimulating early in the morning or towards sunset when the horizontal rays of the sun penetrate the petals and make them glow with life, while they tip with fire such flowers as are above the half shadows. Paeonies in large numbers, seen thus, are never to be forgotten. When I took the late William Robinson, author of The English Flower Garden, into the midst of scores of thousands of paeony plants in a valley, he exclaimed that he could recall no lovelier sight from his wide experience of gardens and floral landscapes the world over. Paeonies are bold as well as gracious beauties, prodigal of their loveliness, giving you all they have-you have not to search for it-and there are no thorns. One large plant may produce from forty to fifty magnificent flowers borne on stiff erect stems above a bush of foliage which is highly decorative in itself. The height of the plants, from about two and a half to four feet, is ideal for appreciation; there is no need to stoop to admire; they are just under your nose, the exact and proper place for flowers which are so sweetly scented.

The delicate suavity of the perfume of most of the Lactiflora section, so different from that of the well-known old double crimson (Officinalis), would alone place them in the first rank of garden flowers. Some smell of roses (whence, as well as from their shape, the old name "piny-roses"), others of honey and fragrant spices. The scent arising in the evening of a hot day from a large planting could persuade you that you were standing near a mammoth potpourri bowl. In the house their fragrance is especially agreeable; for unlike that of some flowers in a confined space, it does not become overpowering or unpleasant.

As I have already said, in addition to their colour and fragrance, paeonies have a further attraction in their great variability. This is displayed not merely in the colour but also in the form of their flowers, in the arrangement of the petals and of the curious, jewel-like petaloids in the centre of some of the singles and semi-doubles; in the outline both of each petal and of the whole flower, and in the protean changes from the bud stage through maturity to age. This variation in form and colour is a matter of great interest and excitement to the connoisseur; paeonies are the least predictable of plants. I do not mean that a red paeony can change to a white, or a pink to a purple, or a single to a double, but the description of the form and colour of a flower cannot always be exact. A great many of the varieties vary surprisingly, for example, with the strength of the plants. Some varieties which are two-coloured or many coloured, with central petals of a different tint from the outside collars when produced by plants which are not at the height of their strength, become on strong plants fully double and nearly of one colour; the smaller petals make way for larger petals of the same shade as the outside ones. It is usual in describing a variety to take the colour when the flower first opens, but many varieties of delicate shades gradually become white as they are exposed to strong sunlight, and regain the beauty of their particular tone of colour when in shadow.

The more one knows paeonies the more they fascinate and with increasing eagerness one looks forward to the time when they will be in flower again early the next summer. A devotee will find pleasure in recording notes of their individual characteristics. And so for some of us the most exciting moment each year is when the first paeony bud opens towards the end of May or early in June. One has watched the plants for many weeks, from the day in February or March when the "dear rosy snouts", as Miss Jekyll called them, poked silently above the ground and slowly closed their ranks, some quicker and therefore taller than others, some in green, others in red coats. It is difficult to name any plant which makes its first appearance above ground with such a startling depth of colour. One of my favourite colours in the paint-box when I was a boy was called crimson lake and this to me best describes the hue of most of these spear-like stems. As the spears become crowned with banners of foliage many other colour descriptions have to be used, such as ruby red, chrysanthemum crimson, purple madder, garnet lake, maroon and pansy purple.

And now, quite suddenly, the flower buds appear, tiny hard knobs on slender stems; they seem to form overnight but afterwards remain upheld for weeks without seeming change. Again all at once there is a further transformation; the plants increase greatly in size; the foliated spears have turned into small bushes, with leaves well spread; the plants are twice, three times the size they were a few days before; the buds are larger although still solid, hard and globular. May has come! They stay like this, still and beautiful to look at, and it seems as if a month or more must pass before any flowers can show, for how could a large paeony blossom eight or nine inches across be developed in any shorter time from a hard ball the size of a marble? But we know better, and after a fortnight we visit them daily, until one morning a few of the buds near to bursting are showing little patches of yellowish white. The very next day, if it is warm and sunny, the third miracle has happened- the fast paeony is out! It is the flower of a single variety and has spread its broad, gleaming petals away from its golden heart, drinking in the sunshine. It is soon followed by others, and a supreme moment arrives when the first of the double flowers appears, huge, majestic, perfect. The golden month of June is well set, and the paeony is the month's crown, the focus, the highlight of all that is beautiful in the garden picture.

Many of our trees, shrubs and a few of our herbaceous perennials owe a great popularity to the cheerful and in some cases strikingly beautiful colours which their foliage assumes towards the decline of the year. Paeonies have a claim to be included among these. The normal colour of their foliage when in flower is green of varied shades, and bronze. In some varieties however these greens change and run the whole gamut of browns, yellows and reds. Another friend of the boyhood paint-box, "Burnt sienna", is prominent and even a bright pink is sometimes to be seen.

It is not certain to what extent seasons or soils influence this habit of changing the foliage colour towards autumn, but varieties which frequently display this tendency are noted in the list.

Paeonies have other claims to consideration besides their great and varied beauty in colour and form and their perfume. One of these is their permanence when once planted: another, their power of endurance through hardships such as extremes of climate and neglect, under which many other so-called "hardy" plants would fail in part or succumb altogether. Paeonies bridge the season between spring and summer. Once properly planted there are no gaps to be filled at the end of the season; each plant settles in to stay, is a friend who becomes better known each succeeding year, and of the kind which improves on acquaintance. There are instances in my own experience of plants flowering in the same position, year after year, for seventy years; and there is no reason why they should not go on far longer in a good depth of soil. There is probably no hardy plant that gives such an abundant return for so little care. It was noticeable in many gardens which became wildernesses during the years of war that the paeonies were the only garden plants left alive and in many cases they were still in fullest vigour when peace came and their owners returned home.

As a paeony needs a square yard in which to become well established and exhibit its beauty to the full, room cannot be found for many in tiny gardens, but even the smallest plot should possess at least three or four. Mrs. Edward Harding, an American enthusiast, writes in her book on paeonies, "No garden can really be too small to hold a paeony. Had I but four square feet of ground at my disposal I would plant a paeony in the centre and proceed to worship. . . . Owners of small gardens are often fearful of having insufficient room for this stately subject. I think they do not realise how much pleasure comes from the possession of even half a dozen plants, or three, or two, or just one." If this is true in respect of small gardens how loud is the call from larger gardens for a generous supply. Paeonies should, therefore, be planted near at hand for close enjoyment of their beauty as well as in masses for distant colour effect, in lines straight or curving on the margins of shrubberies, and in groups between shrubs; in large and small beds in the midst of turf; in borders at the foot of walls, and in formal mixed borders at constant intervals. They should, in their less expensive kinds, be planted freely in open copses, and the rougher parts of the garden. All these situations they adorn.

The following, written many years ago by William Robinson, is interesting and valuable: "Most gardens contain spots so shaded that few plants will thrive in them. In such places paeonies would grow luxuriantly; and their colour would often be more intense, while they would last much longer than if fully exposed to the sun. They may therefore be made useful as well as ornamental even in small pleasure grounds, although their proper place is undoubtedly the fronts of shrubberies and plantations and the sides of carriage drives. Where distant effect is required no plants answer so well, as their size and brilliancy render them striking even at a long distance. When planted on either side of a grass walk their effect is admirable, especially in the morning and about sunset; and when planted in masses they are invaluable for lighting up sombre nooks. The most brilliant and one of the boldest things in wild gardening is a group of scarlet paeonies in meadow grass in early summer."

Wherever there is either full sunlight all the day or half-shade for a part of it: that is the place for paeonies. Trees which allow sunlight to come through and which are not too greedy at the roots are good companions for them-e.g. flowering cherries, peaches, plums, and crab apples. Especially in respect of the paler varieties of paeonies this half-shade preserves the individuality of the tints which so subtly distinguish one variety from another. On the other hand trees such as elms, oaks, beeches, maples, and chestnuts, cast too heavy a shade and are too greedy at their roots to be recommended as near neighbours.

Those who have room could well plant quite large breadths of paeonies as they have been in the habit of doing with azaleas, rhododendrons and roses. Highly coloured kinds of good habit look extremely well in the landscape, and it is the custom to use them extensively in this manner in the United States and Canada. They are as hardy as the dock, nor do they require lime-free or any special kind of soil.

But perhaps the greatest joy to be obtained from the paeony is from planting a well-chosen selection of single, double and semi-double kinds in a large bed or border and in examining their differences and savouring their varying loveliness at leisure. Additions can be made annually, selected from varieties seen at flower shows, in friends' gardens, in nurseries, or from descriptions in catalogues, until a really fine collection is achieved.

A paeony garden, where the whole range of European, Chinese, Japanese, and Moutan forms may be gathered together to demonstrate unmistakably their charms, their surpassing grandeur, or their fragrance should certainly be worth while. Such a garden should not be arranged formally and the paeonies may well have for their associates early-flowering daffodils or late-flowering lilies, something of a bulbous-rooted character before and after their coming, something to set off rather than to vie with them, thus making their abiding-place a greater attraction than it would otherwise be. In no case, however, should such accompaniments be overdone.

Of course, it might well be urged that a comprehensive paeony garden is only possible in very large gardens, and this, indeed, may be true. At the same time, there is room in most gardens for paeony beds or borders, wherein a weli-choscn selection can find place.

It is not generally known in this country that the herbaceous parony lends itself to the bringing on of early flowers in the greenhouse or conservatory, yet in America the plant is widely used for this purpose. It does well in tubs and in very large pots or planted out in greenhouse or conservatory beds. The true paeony is also very easy to grow in a cold greenhouse; good-sized plants put into pots in the autumn will give flowers as beautiful as those produced in the open air. In order to advance the blooming by a month or two, it is only necessary for them to be put about January or February in a greenhouse with a moderate temperature, that is to say, about 55° to 60° Fahrenheit.

As a cut flower, the paeony, so beautiful, so fragrant, so impressive and long lasting, with its long firm stalks, is ideal for interior decoration; it is worth growing for this purpose alone. The flowers if gathered in the bud will open to their fullest extent in water and will retain their colour tones, some of which are apt to be lost in the full heat of a blazing sun. It is even true that flowers which have opened in water in the house exhibit more delicate variations of colour tones than if they had opened on the plants in full sun. They can also be cut when young and kept in cold storage for a long time in readiness for any particular date ahead for which they may be required. Cut in bud when the colour of the petals is only just showing, and the stems plunged in water for an hour or so, they will sustain a journey of two or three days by post or rail, and when again placed in water will open fully. Their fragrance remains fresh to the end and is not overpowering at close quarters. The flowers will retain their beauty and last longer in water if each day a small portion of the stem is cut off with a sharp knife and fresh water given. A reliable feminine authority tells me that, "to the busy woman of to-day they are the modern answer to the housewife's prayer for decorative and easy flower arrangement".

I think the single varieties are quite as beautiful, in fact many people admire them even more than the magnificently opulent double forms.

Apart from garden and room decoration, paeonies should be more extensively exlu'bited as cut flowers at early-summer flower shows. They are always the subject of admiration by the public, and if shown separately and correctly named, are certain of increasing the percentage of marks awarded to a group of hardy perennials for competition. In North America and Canada shows devoted to paeonies alone take place in June and July. Innumerable classes under various headings are arranged for competitive awards and so popular are paeonies everywhere South and North, East and West that the entries are legion and spectacular shows result.

Even if paeonies bore no flowers they would merit a place in the garden for the sake of their handsome foliage. All paeonies produce bushes of ornamental foliage attractive in outline and veining, in varying metallic shades of green and bronze through the flowering period and I have spoken of the young stems of vivid carmine breaking through the soil in March and unfolding in April and May. In addition many varieties are resplendent again in the autumn in tints of gold, orange, scarlet, rose and purple brown. Beds of paeonies in September and October can be as charming as flowering borders; the leaves are invaluable for house decoration and harvest festivals at a time when flowers are scarce.


The three sections of the paeony family

PAEONIES may be divided roughly, from the amateur gardener's point of view, into three sections:

(a) The June-flowering varieties of P. Lactiflora (called until recently P. Albiflora or "Chinese paeonies"). This is the most important section for the average garden.

(b) The various herbaceous species. These flower in May or earlier-certain of them are extremely desirable.

(c) Varieties of P. Suffruticosa (P. Moutan) the shrubby or "tree" paeony, and hybrid varieties between it and the yellow-flowered shrubby P. Lutea.

(a) To those who have only met with paeonies such as the May-flowering old double crimson of gaudy colouring and not very pleasing perfume, the June-flowering varieties of Lactiflora will be an astounding revelation; the singles so fine and pure in line and colour, the large doubles in such incomparably delicate tints as well as in handsome, brilliant colours and charming in their fragrance, and the "Imperials", Japanese types, in the magnificence of their rich contrasting colours. There are still people who have never seen these June-flowering kinds. "We have always had paeonies," said a gardening friend to me, "but I don't think they are up to much." When she made the acquaintance of a glorious group of new hybrids, she gasped with surprise. "These are not paeonies!" she exclaimed. Paeonia Lactiflora, the species from which the many beautiful single and double varieties originated, is described by botanists as follows: "Bearing white or pink flowers with petals two and a half to three inches broad, sepals five to ten. Leaflets oblong, acute three to four inches long, one to one and a half inches broad, glabrous, bright green, often coloured red at the edges and with red veins. Lower leaves with about five segments in each of the three divisions. Stems two to three feet long, often branched, bearing one to five flowers."

The roots (which are said to be eaten by the Tatars of Mongolia) are hard and tough and branch from a harder central core; they are fusiform or spindle-shaped affairs, hard and fleshy, in appearance something between dahlia and rhubarb roots. This feature and the store of juices contained in a well-matured piece, explain why paeonies will travel so safely and well to distant lands. These roots become, in time, as thick as a man's finger or even wrist, and will grow downwards to a depth of two feet.

"Doubling" takes place freely in the flowers of this as well as of some other species, by the evolution of the numerous stamens into petals. When it has only just started we get varieties belonging to the so-called Japanese or "Imperial" section with their extremely beautiful centres. At the half-developed stage the flowers are called semi-double; the petaloids are then often narrow to the point of being thread-like; when the change is complete we have the fully double kinds.

Raisers have taken advantage of this latent power of change to cross-fertilize and raise seedlings from which they have selected those showing the most striking variation for naming and distribution. This has for over a century been practised in France, for three-quarters of a century in England, and recently in America. The naming of seedlings can be overdone, but there are at least several hundred named varieties mentioned in various catalogues, all more or less distinct and worth growing; a great many of them are beautiful beyond description. A list of those which I consider amongst the most desirable is given on pages 40-52.

(b) The various herbaceous species of paeony which flower in May or a little earlier are many, but are reduced in number if those that are nearly allied are brought together and those that have not great interest except to botanists or are not generally available, are excluded. Officinalis is the largest section, especially if we include in it peregrina, arietina, credica, decora, paradoxa, all of which seem to be sub-species or varieties of it. Officinalis itself is represented throughout England, particularly in cottage gardens, by the old double red (P.O. Var rubra plena). As this is almost the only paeony known to a great portion of the general public many are apt to think of "paeonies" in the terms of this one kind, which is unfortunate. It provides a fine bit of colour for the short time it is in flower. It used to be popular in the West Country in the old days of "Club Walking" on May aist, "Oak Apple Day", when its flower, like a small red cabbage, was prominent in the buttonholes of male members of the local Benefit Society. The double white, double rose, and P. Mutabilis varieties of P. Officinalis are attractive.

Some of the single-flowered relatives of P. Officinalis are not particularly showy; they are low growing, their flowers are not large, nor numerous, and are chiefly rather dull in shades of mauve or red. The brilliant Fulgens Splendens and Sabini are exceptions. The very notable ally of the Officinalis group, P. peregrina and the lobata varieties of it, are unique in then- astonishingly pure rosy scarlet colour.

There have been many attempts to cross-fertilize members of the Officinalis section with the Lactiflora kinds. As the former flower in May and the latter in June it has not been easy, but a few crosses have been made and distributed in this country and in America. They are spoken well of and may become popular when more widely known.

Of other May-flowering herbaceous species two are outstanding: P. Mlokosewitschi and P. Wittmanniana. Both are imposing in leaf and flower, and they are yellow, a colour rare in herbaceous paeonies. And there is the interesting small-flowered species, P. Veitchii and its variety Woodwardii.

Apart from their obvious differences when growing, all these species differ widely botanically from P. Lactiflora. For instance here is the description of P. Officinalis: "Petals dark crimson, much imbricated, abovate one and a half to two inches broad, stamens half an inch long, anthers rather shorter, glabrous, paler beneath; the lowest with fifteen to twenty lanceolate acute confluent leaflets, one to two inches broad." The roots are more tuberous in form than those of P. Lactiflora; detached portions will form calluses and from these buds will sprout and produce plants, whereas P. Lactiflora will only grow from portions which already possess an eye or stem bud near the crown of the plant.

(c) Shrub by paeonies (commonly known as "tree paeonies"), called P. Suffruticosa, formerly called arborea or Moutan. The tree paeony is one of the noblest shrubs available for beds in the garden or for the border; it is extremely hardy, being subject to temperatures below zero Fahrenheit in its native country. It flourishes in Britain in the open garden under the simplest treatment in almost any kind of soil. The smallest specimen will flower in the most astonishing manner, bear magnificent blossoms often one foot across and increase in size until it becomes a large shrub carrying a large number of flowers. The flowers are comparable in size, beauty or in range of colour, from the most delicate tints to those of strongest splendour, by those of any hardy plant or shrub.

Shrubby paeonies are a great ornament in gardens from the first days of spring on account of their elegant foliage, so beautiful in outline and colouring. Their enormous flowers open in April and May.

A botanical description of the Moutan paeony (P. Suffruticosa) is: Flowers various in colour, very large. Carpels small, numerous, densely pilose. Leaflets entire at base, cut in the upper part into oblong acute segments, glabrous on both surfaces, moderately firm. Stems shrubby, copiously branched. Height three to six feet or more.

The most important tree paeonies for gardens are the many varieties:

(a) of Paeonia suffruticosa (syn. P. Moutan) of Chinese, Japanese and French origin, and

(b) the hybrid varieties resulting from crossing it with Paeonia lutea, a yellow-flowered species.

These, flowering in May and June, (a) are superb when in flower and with attractive foliage. A few are scented. In many instances the magnificent blossoms are larger even than the largest of the herbaceous varieties.

There is also the interesting novel series (b). These are mainly the result of the work in France of Lemoine et fils and Professeur Louis Henry. They exhibit all shades of yellow, orange and bronzy red.


Where, when and how to plant

A I have already remarked, paeonies of all kinds may be planted in any part of the garden where there is direct sunshine during some part of the day and a soil of average consistency and good depth, but not too near the roots of large trees. One preference is perhaps a sandy soil well mulched from time to time, irrespective of whether it is an acid or limy one but it must be well drained, for stagnant moisture is fatal; they do especially well in a bed raised a foot above the path.

They are to be recommended for all the special purposes already mentioned and also for planting in the kitchen garden for cut flowers for the house. All the sections of the family are equally hardy; but in the south and west of Britain an unusually early spell of warmth in the spring sometimes causes a premature sprouting of buds which a subsequent frost or keen east wind may injure. This is more noticeable with the tree varieties and is an argument rather for an open situation than a sheltered one. There is no insuperable reason why all three sections, Lactijlora varieties, herbaceous species and tree species and varieties should not be planted together in one bed or border. This would extend the flowering period from the end of April until July. They would be well arranged so that the tallest growers were in the middle of the bed or at the back of the border, and the June-flowering alternated with the earlier kinds. But the general wish may be for greater uniformity in kind and in time of flower, and to this end separate beds and borders for each section can be made. It is a matter of taste and convenience.

For the best effect it is probably advisable, where possible, to plant in groups of three or five or more of the same variety, rather than singly and, for the sake of contrast, to distribute the colours impartially throughout the bed or border, being careful to plant the lower-growing kinds near the front. And unless it is intended to take up and plant elsewhere every other plant in three or four years' time, plenty of room should be given from the beginning. Paeonies are a permanent investment and individual plants will form quite large clumps with reasonable encouragement. Given plenty of space and deep rich soil the size of the flowers is greatly increased and their colours intensified.

Many subjects such as bulbs and dwarf alpines may be planted actually between and among paconies, and, of course, in beds and borders, given plenty of room, paconies associate well with delphiniums, gaillardias, lobelia cardi-nalis, michaelmas daisies, etc., or in front of tall-growing plants. Gladioli, flowering when the paeony blooms are long past, narcissi and scillas are amongst the most admirable of consorts for them. Shakespeare must have noticed the companionabilityof the lily, for he speaksof "thy banks with peonied and lihed brim" in The Tempest.

Good kinds of lily for planting between paeonies the first year or two would be the Madonna lily (Lilium can-didum), orange lily (Lilium croceum), the scarlet Turk's-cap (L. chalcedonicum), and the tiger lilies (L. tigrinum var, splendent and L. t. var.fortunei).

Of narcissi those of the strong-flowering, trumpet section of golden colour arc preferable, and vigorous varieties of the incomparabilis section. The narcissi will flower while the paeonies are thrusting up their young carmine shoots. Later the paeonies will expand their softly coloured, massive blooms, while, after their beauty has waned, the tall flower-spires of the stately lilies will gleam above the spreading foliage.

In shrubberies and woodland the Officinalis group and some of the strongest growers of the Lactiflora section can be used, but in no more than half-shade and not if there is danger of their being starved by the roots of the shrubs and trees.

The Officinalis varieties are especially adaptable for growing in rough grass. Holes should be taken out and filled with good soil, and the grass not allowed to grow close to the plants for the first year, after which an annual clearing round the collar will be sufficient to enable the plants to hold their own with any native herbage that may appear.

For this country I consider that the very best time to move and replant is in September and October or the first convenient date after the ground has been made ready, but not later than the end of March. Recently some growers in America have declared that spring planting is even better than autumn. I do not think that the paeony cares very much as long as it gets room for its toes when planted, and for expansion afterwards; naturally the longer it has in which to send out young root growth before the summer the better. It should also be borne in mind that they are early-season bloomers and are chary of producing flowers the first summer and it is better that they should wait until the second season before doing so. In any event the excellence and true character of the variety cannot justly be judged from the first season's flowers.

The best plants to obtain are roots of two, or at the most three, years of age. They go straight ahead and become established and flower satisfactorily sooner than old clumps or divisions of large clumps; the latter take much longer to send out fibrous roots and to re-establish themselves.

Paeonies, however small the plant, as long as there is an "eye", will sprout and grow; it is almost difficult to kill them; but they are impatient of removal after being planted.

The vitality of paeony plants is so remarkable that there have been instances of plants arriving in mid-Canada from England in the autumn, placed in their frozen state in a cellar, and planted in the spring, not only surviving but nourishing to perfection. Paeonies, after two months' journey to New Zealand, arriving at Christmas, have shown through the soil a fortnight after being planted. I have seen small portions of roots cast away on a rubbish heap in the autumn, throwing up leaves and buds the next year although they had had no food except from their own fleshy tubers and from rain, sun and air.

When planting herbaceous paeonies, whether species or garden varieties, a hole for each plant should be dug one to two feet deep and one and a half feet across. Where convenient it would be well, in the summer beforehand, to have the whole bed or border trenched, or at any rate deeply dug, and enriched by the incorporation of well-rotted farmyard manure, compost, or humus of some kind. If this cannot be done and the soil needs enrichment, manure or some other humus should be placed at the bottom of each hole at planting time and lightly covered with soil so that the roots will not actually touch it. Manure not really decomposed, or which still has straw in it, or detritus covered with white threads, must be avoided or the roots may become adversely affected. Not less than two feet, and, for the production of the largest flowers and for the best permanent effect, four feet, should be the distance from the nearest plant. The Lactiflora varieties and the various herbaceous species, should be planted so that the crown of the plant which produces the stem buds will not be more than one and a half to two inches beneath the ordinary surface level. The planting should be completed by the soil being placed over their crowns. If the soil should heave or expand from frost it should be again lightly trodden, and the ground levelled by drawing away the raised or superfluous soil above the crown so that no more than two inches remains above the crest of the plant. The reason for the recommendation that the ground should be deeply dug and well manured as long before the planting season as may be possible, is in order to ensure that the plants may achieve and retain the highest standard for the indefinite number of years of which paeonies are so outstandingly capable.

When planting tree paeonies the junction of the graft with the stock should be one or two inches below the surface; this will encourage the graft itself to root; any growths coming up from below should be cut or rubbed off at once, and also in succeeding springs if they should come again, or they will kill and replace the graft.


The care of paeonies

It is quite useless to give herbaceous paeonies a covering in winter; it will be positively harmful through the lessening of the aeration of the soil and the beneficial action of the frost and snow, to both of which they are accustomed in their native habitat.

In cases where roses are killed to the ground by severe winters paeonies survive. They defy storm, hail, hot wind andblizzard, and triumph over all. But although the paeony is so extremely hardy, vigorous, persistent and enduring, it does not become a nuisance in the border by rambling or spreading unduly. It merely asks to be well started in life and left to itself to increase in strength and beauty. In the case of tree paeonies, however, though they are extremely hardy, nevertheless in countries such as Britain where mild weather frequently occurs early in the year and is sometimes succeeded by a late frost just when flower buds are beginning to develop, it is prudent to give some slight protection during periods of variable temperature, in case these buds may become injured.

If these elementary precautions are taken, there is no reason why paeonies should not be suitable plants for exposed gardens with a harsh climate.

The cultivation of the ground and the keeping of it clean round and between the plants are in my opinion of more value in good soils than the application of mulches and fertilizers. A mulch each autumn however, will not be without reward on light soils. Some growers do not mulch but fork in bone meal or any other artificial manure that will not encourage growth of foliage rather than flower. Fertilizers rich in potash should be chosen but in moderate doses. Farmyard mulch is excellent but must be kept well away from the plants. During periods of drought in the growing season it is advisable to water copiously twice a week; this is preferable to frequent or daily light watering.

In keeping the ground clean between the plants, and this can only be done effectively between November and March, care must be taken not to interfere with the roots, as these spread almost horizontally as well as downwards.

As I have already stated, paeonies which originate in North-Eastern Asia are so extremely hardy that they flourish all the better in the summer from resting through a long winter spell of frost and snow. This accounts for their giving such successful results in the northern States of America and in Canada. Paeonia Emodi, originating in Northern India, has a shorter sleep and is slightly "tender", that is to say the flower buds are often ruined by frost unless protected.

If planted in the early autumn or in the spring, each plant should have the contents of a can of water poured round it after being planted and should not be allowed to get really dry at any time during its first summer. It is also better for the plants if they are not allowed to flower at all during the first season. The foliage should not be cut off until late in the autumn when it has begun to decay and then it should be severed near the ground to obviate any possible infection in the foliage from affecting the main plant.

One of the things the paeony grower must learn is that the leaves must not be cut away until they have actually ripened, for they are necessary to the proper completion of growth and flowers of next year. But just after flowering the flower stems can be shortened in the interest of tidiness.

When eventually the foliage is cut to the ground it should be taken away and burnt.

Supports are not necessary with the dwarfer varieties or in sheltered gardens, but in some more exposed situations with the taller kinds, as the flowers on established plants are so large and heavy, it is well to obviate the effect of strong gales, and the weight of heavy rains. The most suitable supports are medium-weight four-foot or five-foot bamboo canes. Three or four of these stuck firmly into the ground with string or bass round them are unobtrusive and are a satisfactory method of keeping the plant together, whereas large stakes are unsightly.

To obtain the largest individual flowers for exhibitions, lateral buds may be removed when about the size of peas, but in my opinion the fullest natural beauty of the plants as an ornament to the garden is exhibited when all the buds are allowed to remain; this not only increases the number of flowers but also prolongs the flowering period. To many, these complete flower heads make even more artistic appeal than the massive central bloom alone: for example varieties like Supreme with its saucer-shaped secondary blossoms, provide extremely attractive flower clusters.

Tree paeonies may require a little pruning. This merely amounts to tidying the plant. It is sufficient to cut off the end of the flower stems above the top joint of the leaves after blooming, unless, in order to preserve a good shape to the plant, it is desired to cut back any of the woody branches, which can be done without injury.

Raising garden varieties of paeonies from seed is almost entirely left to professional nurserymen. It is a long process and the quality of the flowers so produced is unpredictable. If, however, an amateur gardener wishes to raise plants from seed it is well to gather the seeds just as the pods are opening and before the seeds turn dark and hard.

If sown at once in pots or pans indoors they will germinate fairly soon, but when hardened they take a year in soil before the seed case disintegrates and the germ can break through. The seedling plant will not reach the flowering stage for another three or four years.

As tree paeonies are not easy to propagate from division or layers, nurserymen graft them on roots of a P. Lactiflora. Theyare at first slow to grow; plants as supplied are usually three years from being grafted and have woody stems nine inches or a foot high. But even such comparatively small plants surprise occasionally by producing in their first season a flower or two of a size out of all proportion to that of the plant.


It appears to be a custom in books on gardening to write a chapter in great detail about the numerous pests which attack so many classes of plants. In my opinion this is so much overstressrd that it is a wonder that amateurs embark on any gardening whatsoever. In regard to the paeony, at one time it seemed safe to say there was nothing whatever that it had to fear, as neither insect nor vermin attacked it and even rabbits passed it by. Paeonies as a matter of fact are so stout and vigorous and the roots are so hard and fleshy that it is difficult for those grubs which are a nuisance to frailer kinds of plants to make any inroads upon them, at any rate while the plants themselves are in a healthy state.

During recent years, however, it has been noticed that a paeony here and there was failing. In such cases, which fortunately are not very frequent, the stems tui n purplish and the leaves wither early in the summer and on examination it has been found that the plant has been subject to an attack of botrytis. This occurs more often in very wet seasons. The usual remedy for botrytis should be put in hand. The plant should be sprayed two or three times at intervals when in growth with a solution of bordeaux mixture and the soil round the plant should also be treated. If this or the application of copper-lime dust is not efTective, the remedy is to dig up the plant and burn it and not to insert another in the same spot for a year or two.

Occasionally it is found that a particular plant, although otherwise looking healthy, obstinately refuses to flower. If this is not due to the roots having reached a hard rock bottom, or to their having been buried too deeply when planted, it would be well to dig up the plant and examine the roots, and if any warts or nodules are found on the fibrous roots, the plant had belter be destroyed.

Ants arc fond of the gummy matter that exudes from the buds and stems but they do no harm.

The foregoing are the only warnings that from my experience of paeony growing seem necessary.


The best June-flowering paeonies

To compile a list of the most desirable of the many named varieties of herbaceous June-flowering paeonies requires a long acquaintance with them. Not only the beauty of the flower, but the habit of growth, free-flowering quality and the consistently high standard of each individual kind in successive seasons have to be considered.

I have been fortunate in having been in actual personal touch with an immensely varied collection during a long life-time. For more than half a century I have spent many hours of many days from the end of May to the beginning of July examining hundreds of named garden varieties of French, English, Japanese and, lately, American origin. If I were challenged as to which of all these I would myself plant in order to form an unrivalled collection, I would select from the following list.

Those I mention have stood the test of time and competition. Kinds difficult to obtain are omitted, and also a few varieties which appear to be outstanding, but which are so new that there has not yet been time to prove them properly. I have omitted from my list varieties with weak stems with the exception of Whitleyi major, which is worth growing in spite of this fault. I have not described American and Canadian varieties which I have been assured by transatlantic growers are worth adding, but of which I have no personal knowledge. Of these I give a separate list as a matter of record, for, especially at the moment, they are unobtainable in Europe.

For convenience I have arranged the selection in relation to the colour of the flowers. It has not been easy, as some kinds alter slightly between the opening stages and maturity, or even according to the age or vigour of the plant itself, or from seasonal climatic conditions. I have marked specially the singles (S) and the so-called "Imperials" (single-flowered Japanese type with large bosses of petaloids) (J) and the semi-doubles (SD). It will be observed that information is also given as to anything unusual in relation to height, fragrance, flower profusion, autumn colour in the foliage, and the comparative earli-ness or lateness of the flowering period.

Here is my list, preceded by notes as to the meaning of the abbreviations used:


Varieties without S, J or SD in the margin are fully double flowered.


single flowered.


single flowered, but with a central boss of petaloids of yellow, in some cases edged crimson. Japanese type,


semi-double, i.e. with loosely arranged inner petals sometimes of narrow or even threadlike form, and often with golden anthers showing at the centre of the flower or between the petals.


beginning to flower the last week of May.


commencing to flower early in June.


in flower in mid-June.


in flower late in June.


lasting in flower to the first week in July.


markedly fragrant-all the Lactiflora section possess the faint pleasant characteristic paeony perfume; the lighter coloured doubles are all fragrant, but those marked "fr" have been noted as being very sweet.


varieties which grow taller than the majority, four feet or even five feet in strong deep soil.


varieties which do not normally exceed two and a half feet.


varieties which have been noted as likely to add attractive tones of red, orange, yellow and russet to the foliage in the late summer and autumn.

Although it is largely a matter of individual preference, those varieties with an asterisk against them are in my opinion the pick of the basket, six singles, twelve doubles and six of the Japanese types. The names in brackets are those of the raisers with the date when they were raised.


Admiral Harwood (Kelway 1909), white, flushed pink guard petals, lemon centre tipped cinnamon. Lovely. em.j

Alice Harding (Lemoine 1921), a lovely tint of palest amber on white ground, turning wholly white. Very large and massive but occasionally semi-double. Incurved centre. Delicately beautiful. Vigorous and tall. em.

Baroness Schroeder (Kelway 1888), pale flesh-white tinted cream, turning snow-white. Rose type. Very large. Handsome foliage. Rose scented. One of the most beautiful double whites. Flowers last well and are even finer when cut and in water than in the field. Pleasant fragrance.

Bridesmaid (Kelway), rosy-white, two rows of petals, golden stamens. Medium size. Dwarf habit. m.*s

Countess of Altamont (Kelway 1905), peach-pink to white. Pink carpels. Dark stout stems. Very tall. Handsome dark foliage. el.s

Denise (Lemoine 1925), white tinged soft flesh-pink. Fragrant. ml.d

Due de Wellington (Calot 1859), white, cream-white at centre turning white. Bomb-shaped full double, but sometimes develops narrow central petals. em.

Duchesse de Nemours (Calot 1856), sulphur or light canary yellow to pure white. Green carpels. Incurved crown type. Medium-sized flower, sometimes large. Fine foliage. Extremely sweetly scented. Useful as a cut flower. vff.el.

Edith Cavell (Kelway 1916), milk-white with some bright yellow petals and red stain. Very sweet and large. Delightful.

Festiva Maxima (Miellez 1851), pure icy white with an occasional red blotch. el.

Isoline (Lemoine 1916), cream-yellow to pure white with blood-red spot. Substantial anemone-shaped flower. Three tiers of petals. Very large and fine. ml.

James Kelway (Kelway 1900), blush-white changing to milk-white with golden glow at centre. Very large flowers of exquisite quality and perfect form. Very fragrant. Specially useful as a cut flower. Vigorous and rather tall. Good foliage. Second only to Kel-way's Glorious for perfect beauty. ff.em. Has been recorded as producing as many as sixty blooms to one plant. "One of the grandest paeonies known. It has grown for me an upstanding vigorous stem between four and five feet in height, crowned with a group of five or six flowers of most enchanting beauty. It has a quality of petal which has no equal. It has the colour of untouched white, and a habit of remaining only half open for a long time, when cut in the bud and kept from direct sunlight." From Paeonies in the Little Garden, by Mrs. Edward Harding. *

Kelway's Glorious (Kelway 1908). The finest of all double white paeonies. Ravishingly lovely. Gleaming white with creamy glow in the depths. Crimson streaks outside the guard petals. Wonderful perfection of form; deep funnel-shaped centre of incurving petals with broad widely spread rings of surrounding petals-immense flower six to seven inches across. Strongly scented of roses. Plant of medium height of first-rate habit with stout stems and dark green foliage. The flowers are freely produced and last well when cut. "Blooms every year on every stem." ml. *

Kelway's White Lady (Kelway 1932), milk-white, cream centre. Like a water lily. One of the very best. Very large. ml. j

La Lorraine (Lemoine 1901), creamy flesh to pure white showing golden anthers. Incurved large flowers borne in clusters. Good foliage. Scented. t.ff.em. SD

Lady Veronica Bruce (Kelway 1887), white tinged lilac with sulphur-white centre; turns pure white. Fine shape, globular crown type. Scented. Very lovely. el. *

Laura Dessert (Dessert 1913), creamy-white guard petals with bright canary yellow centre. Snow-white with primrose base to petals when mature. Large full double. Medium height. The yellowest double paeony when young. fr.ff.em. *

Le Cygne (Lemoine 1907), pure milk-white, amber coloured buds. Perfect form. Large. e.

Madame Claude Tain (Doriat 1927), white. Superb large flower. l.

Madame Edouard Doriat (Doriat 1924), cream-white to pure white, light carmine blotch at centre. A beautiful globe-shaped flower with round petals.

Madame Jules Dessert (Dessert 1909), cream-white with blush sheen changing to pure white; showing golden anthers. Large flowers, in clusters. Handsome plant of splendid habit. vff. Tall. ml. SD

Mademoiselle Jeanne Rivière (Riviere 1908), flesh-pink with lemon yellow centre; turns pure white. Good foliage. Medium size. Good for cut flowers. Very fragrant. t.vff.m.

Marie Lemoine (Calot 1869), white, cream at centre. Very large. Rose type. Medium height. Sweetly scented. vl.

Primevere (Lemoine 1907), blush-white with bright lemon-yellow petaloid centre; changes to milk-white. Large. When young second only to Laura Dessert for yellowness. Sweetly scented.

Queen Alexandra (Kelway 1902), glistening snow-white, pale yellow central boss of petaloids. el. *j

Sir Galahad (Kelway), blush-white to ivory white; buds deep peach colour. Red carpels. Extremely large (seven inches across) and substantial. One of the best singles. Handsome foliage.

Solange (Lemoine 1907), cream or pale amber, sometimes with pale orient-pink centre. Unique colour and lovely form. Large compact globular crown type. Medium height. Dark green foliage. vl.

Tourangelle (Dessert 1910), pearly-white overlaid with delicate tan pink. Lovely fresh and unusual tint. Large. Compact habit. ff.f.l.

White Rose of Sharon (Kelway 1886), pure glistening white acutely reflexed petals, with prominent central tuft of bright yellow petaloids. Unique in shape. vt.m. s

Whitleyi (Syns. Whitleyi major, The Bride, and alba grandiflora), opens blush-white quickly turning; pure white. Very large, in clusters. Needs staking. vff. Fragrant, which is unusual amongst singles. T.VEL. *s


Albert Crousse (Crousse 1893), delicate shell-pink, a most attractive colour. Carmine flakes at centre. Globe-shaped flower of medium size. l.

Beatrice (Kelway), blush-pink with golden anthers.M. S

Belle of Somerset (Kelway), vivid pink changing to soft pink and then to snow white. Fine in shape and colour. Very large. Vigorous handsome plant.

Bridal Veil (Kelway), indescribable light pink with creamy white and pink centre. Double, Perfect shape and very

Claire Dubois (Croussc 1886), clear satiny rose-pink and silver. Fine incurved rose shape. Very large. Specially useful as a cut flower. Handsome dark foliage. fr.l.

Colonel Hopton (Kelway), light mauve pink with large tassel of petaloids tipped gold. Very large and showy. Variable as to form and colour but always lovely. el. j

Duchess of Portland (Kelway), soft pink, stained white. m. s. S

E. St. Hill (Kelway), apple-blossom pink, Very large, borne in clusters. vt.el.

Germaine Bigot (Dessert 1902), flesh-white shaded salmon colour, carmine flakes in centre. Very large loose crown-type flower showing golden anthers. Spicy fragrance. Good foliage. Medium height. FF.EL.AC. SD

June Morning (Kelway 1925), rose and silver; very large, good shape. m.

Kelway's Queen (Kelway 1889), palest shell- to coral-pink, delicate lovely tint. White when mature. Large globular. Sweetly rose scented. Medium height. FF.MYL. *

Kelway's Rosemary (Kelway 1916), delicate rose-pink, silvered all over, with tuft of lighter colour in centre surrounded by golden anthers, spice scented. EM.

Kelway's Supreme (Kelway 1891), delicate blush turning white, cup-shaped with broad petals. Side flowers, freely produced, are single or semi-double. Huge flowers, borne in clusters, when established. Vigorous. Continually in flower early to well into July. The very best of our productions of this type and colour. Very *

Lady Alexandra Duff (Kelway 1891), delicate gay & blush-pink turning paler, with carmine blotches on sd some central petals. Very large broad-petalled flowers borne in clusters. Side flowers single to semi-double of saucer shape with gold anthers. A hand-.some plant. One of the very finest of all paeonies for exhibition and garden, and continuously in flower. VFF.T.EL. S & SD

Lady Ley (Kelway 1911), light lavender with pure rose depths. Large golden centre. Very large. Tulip shape when young. S

Letitia (Kelway), pale rose. A lively effective colour. Cup-shaped flower of great size borne well above the foliage. vff.vem. S

Marguerite Gerard (Crousse 1892), pale pink, turning to creamy white. Centre flecked crimson. l.

Marie Crousse (crousse 1892), pale satiny translucent salmon-pink to coral-pink, turning white later. A blood-red blotch in centre and red carpels. Most attractive colouring. Globular bomb type. Large, in clusters. Spice scented. ml.

Miss Eckhardt, silvery rose. Very large and beautiful. M.

Mons. Jules Elie (Crousse 1888), light lavender-pink with silvery sheen changing to near white. Huge ball-shaped flower with very large outside petals. Varies in colour and shape as it matures. Useful for cut flowers. Stout but lax stems.

Nymph (Dessert 1913), lively flesh-pink, golden centre. Large. Single

Phyllis Kelway (Kelway 1907), rosy-pink paling to white in centre. Entrancing in delicacy of colouring. Very large loosely built flower of exquisite form and great beauty. Medium height plant. One of the very best and most attractive kinds for garden or exhibition. FR.FF.EL. *

Pink Delight (Kelway), palest pink turning glistening white. Very lovely and very large. Dwarf habit. ff. Single

Pink Pearl (Kelway 1898), pearly peach-pink turning white; rose carpel. Very large, broad petalled and fine. Gives a sheaf of giant flowers on a lovely plant. Medium height. One of the best singles. * Single

Raleigh (Kelway), light rosy-pink. Late. l.

Reine Hortense (Calot 1857), pale pink splashed crimson. Large compact flowers. t.ff.el.

Thérèse (Dessert 1904), translucent flesh-pink, golden glow in the depths; exquisite fresh colour. Very large massive handsome loosely built flower. Medium height with strong stems. Good foliage. Fine for exhibition. ff.el. *

Utopia (Kelway 1907), light apple-blossom pink. Dark red carpels and stems. Open well-formed flowers six inches in diameter. Very dwarf. Compact habit. ff.vem. Single

Wiesbaden, pale clear coral-pink, edged white, turning blush white; flecked with carmine. Pretty and distinct. Large. e.


Alexandre Dumas (Guérin 1862), rose, fawn and lilac-white mingled. Three tiers of petals. Large, fr.el.

Auguste Dessert (Dessert 1920), bright salmon-rose, edged silver. Distinct colour, pretty buds. Sometimes so. Medium size. ml.

Beatrice Kelway (Kelway 1905), vivid pure rose outer petals, central petaloids rose, tipped and edged fawn and gold. Very striking and beautiful. A very tall vigorous plant with stout stems. A persistent bloomer. Handsome foliage tipped and edged golden-bronze when young. vt.vff.mvl. Japanese

Bowl of Beauty, pale pink, with upright creamy white petaloids in the style of Kelway's Unique and very fine. Japanese

British Beauty (Kelway 1889), bright cabbage-rose colour tipped silver. Incurved rose type. Large. Very sweetly spice scented. t.vff.el.

Circe (Kelway 1916), clear rose. Large flowers with petaloids and cockade. Showy. Spice scented. evl.

Edulis Superba (Lemoine 1824), clear rosy-lilac, silvered. Crown type. Large. Stout stem. Useful as a cut flower. fr.t.vem.

Eva, deep salmon or coral-pink, yellow centre. Large. Distinct slender linear foliage edged gold. Single

Evening World (Kelway 1928), lilac-pink outer petals with a deep cushion of flesh tint. Very fine. Large. ml. Japanese

Flower of Chivalry (Kelway 1927), brilliant rosy-pink, with deep rose, cream and white centre. A showy variety. Medium height. evl.

Gay Ladye (Kelway), vivid deep rose of attractive hue. Saucer shape. vff.el. Single

Globe of Light (Kelway 1927), lovely vivid pure rose colour with an enormous pure gold centre. Large. Green carpels. Flowers well the first season and does well in pots. Medium height. Vigorous. Good foliage. *j

Glory of June (Kelway 1927), brilliant rich rosy-j pink. Creamy orange, citron and pink central peta-loids. Very large. *

Lady Wolseley (Kelway), deep rose of vivid hue. Large flower in trusses. Very early. Forces well. Tall. *s vem.

Kelway's Brilliant (Kelway 1928), pure carmine-red with shadings approaching scarlet; unique in colour. Crested centre. Medium size. ml. Japanese

Kelway's Lovely (Kelway 1905), bright salmon-rose touched with cream-pink. Central rose coloured tuft. Very large massive handsome flower. One of the best full doubles. fr.el. *

Kelway's Unique (Kelway 1917), attractive bright pure rose, orange central tuft of petaloids. Large and fine. Variable in colour and form.

Kelway's Venus (Kelway 1917), flesh pink with shades of salmon. Most delicate. Good stems and a strong grower. fr.ffl

Leslie Dudley (Kelway), deep rose guard petals, the rest bright pink and cream. Gay cheerful colour. Full double. Very large. fr.vff.em.

Madame Emile Debatène (Dessert 1927), China-rose tinged deep pink. Superb fresh colour. Very large. Rose form showing anthers. Tall stiff stems. Semi-Double

Mrs. Frederick Davidson (Kelway 1926), coral-pink outside, remainder creamy white. e.

Mrs. Philip Runciman (Kelway 1927), rich vivid rose guard petals, contrasting with inner petals of cream and rose. Bomb shaped. Very large and distinct. Compact habit. el. s

Nellie (Kelway 1904), brilliant pink changing to soft pink. Flowers borne in clusters. Probably the largest coloured single. Mint-like fragrance. Vigorous. t.ff.el.

Newfoundland (Kelway 1928), deep rose with large centre of golden fawn. Lovely and lasting. Japanese

Rose of Delight (Kelway 1925), a very brilliant clear pink, edged and marked with white. Handsome pure gold centre. Most striking and beautiful large flowers. Tall. vel. *s

Sarah Bernhardt (Lemoine 1906), fine intense apple-blossom pink; each petal tipped silver. Very large handsome rose-type flower with pleasant scent. Good foliage. Fine for exhibition and as a cut flower. ff.mvl. *

Souvenir de Louis Bigot (Dessert 1913), very bright Bengal-rose with carmine red at base; changing to salmon-rose with silver reflex. Globe shape. Spice scented. Semi-Double

Van Dyck (Crousse 1879), outer and central petals pure mauve, mingled with creamy pink petals. Crown type. Large and fine. vfr.


Felix Crousse (Syn. Victor Hugo) (Crousse 1881), bright deep carmine red, silvered. Compact bomb type, incurved. Very large, in clusters. Specially useful for cut flowers, Medium height. Good foliage. ff.mvl.

General Macmahon (Syn. Augustin d'Hour) (Calot 1867), deep solferine-red. Globe shaped. Very large. Not tall. ff.mvl.

Great Sport (Kelway 1930), bright cherry-rose, saucer filled with rose petaloids edged and tipped gold. Most handsome. mvl.*japanese

Hyperion (Kelway 1933), pure deep carmine-rose and rich golden stamens. Large fine and distinct. Lasts well when cut. ff.mvl. Single

Kelway's Majestic (Kelway 1928), deep vivid cherry-red guard petals with a mass of long narrow ochre-yellow inner petals turning lilac and variously silvered or gilded. Very large. ff.evl.

King of England (Kelway 1901), deep red with carmine petaloids edged gold. Extremely handsome. Very large. Red stems. Vigorous. ff.t.em. * Japanese

Mistral (Dessert 1902), deep velvety cherry colour with lighter edges, golden stamens. Single

Othello (Dessert 1908), bright cherry-carmine. Upright habit. e. Single

Torpilleur (Jap), bright cherry to lighter rosy-pink. Large. mvl. Japanese


Display (Kelway 1921), red, round petals, yellow petaloids edged red. Large. l.

Emperor of Russia (Delache 1856), deep rich amaranthine-purple shaded crimson. Rose type. fr.el.

Her Majesty (Kelway 1925), bright red, saffron-yellow filaments striped carmine. Full. A fine rich deep colour and a huge flower. m. * Japanese

Kelway's Remembrance (Kelway 1916), deep rich maroon-purple. Distinct in colour and form of flower. Anemone-shaped flowers. el.

President Poincare (Kelway), rich pure ruby-crimson. Spice scented. Well formed incurved flower. Semi-double. ml.

Sir Edward Elgar (Kelway 1905), brightest maroon or chocolate crimson, a distinct shade. Free flowering. el. Single

Sir Wilfred Laurier (Kelway 1907). Very dark crimson, a fine colour; large and handsome. Mid-season to very late.


Adolphe Rousseau (Dessert 1890), fine lustrous maroon-red; a splendid colour. Very large. Dark foliage. t.el.

Dr. H. B. Barnsby (Dessert 1913), brilliant maroon-purple. A fine late flowering variety,

Instituteur Doriat (Doriat 1925), velvety carmine edged white. Large. Distinct. l. Japanese

Lord Kitchener (Kelway 1907), intense maroon-red flowers; scarlet in sunlight. Borne in clusters. Extremely dark stems. The finest early red single. *single

Mons. Martin Cahuzac (Dessert 1899), dark maroon-crimson with blackish sheen; a fine colour. Incurved semi-rose type, showing gold anthers. Striking landscape variety. Medium size.

Peter Brand, fine deep shining red. em.

Philippe Rivoire (Riviere 1911), dark maroon-red with black sheen. Fine form. Medium size. The only red paeony with tea rose scent. Medium height. Good foliage. Wiry stems. ff.el. *

Wilbur Wright (Kelway 1909), very dark blackish-red; the darkest single variety. Dark stems. One medium-size flower per stem borne well above the foliage; docs not "burn" in strong sun. Single


The following appear, from transatlantic reports, to be amongst the best varieties raised in the U.S.A. and Canada. All are double flowered.

A. B. Franklin

blush white

Doris Cooper


Dorothy J.


Elsa Sass


Geo. E. Peyton

blush white

Hansina Brand

dark pink

Martha Bullock


Mattie Lafuze

ivory and pink

Mrs. A. M. Brand

pure white

Mrs. F. D. Roosevelt


Mrs. Livingston Farrand


Myrtle Gentry

light pink

Nick Shaylor


Ruth Elizabeth





white, flesh centre

"A new variety raised by man will be a more important and interesting subject for study than one more species added to the infinitude of already recorded species."

From Origin of Species by Charles Darwin

A sense of exhilaration, even pride, in raisers at having prevailed upon Nature to produce new and lovely forms of plants is not unnatural and may perhaps be forgiven, provided that it is realized into what insignificant proportions such success falls when it is considered by what means, by whom and when the original wonder, the species, was designed and produced.


May-flowering and tree paeonies, varieties only

THE following is a descriptive list of some leading May-flowering herbaceous species and their hybrids which are usually obtainable from nurserymen. All are single except where noted.

anomala, bright scarlet-crimson, four inches across, with golden stamens. Graceful finely cut foliage. Eighteen-inch stem. Flowers very early in May or in the last week of April.

cambessedesii, flowers three and a half inches across of a deep shade of true rosy-pink. Red filaments, yellow anthers. Purple-red carpels. Grey-green foliage with red veins and deep purple backs to the leaves and red stems. Ornamental reddish-purple seed in pink carpels. About one and a half feet in height. End of April to May. Does best against a wall.

corallina (syn. mascula), rosy-red with yellow anthers; the large pods with their black and coral-red seeds, are extremely effective.

emodi, beautiful large milky-white flowers. The foliage is also particularly ornamental, quite fascinatingly so in its early stage with its highly coloured bronze palmate foliage. Three feet. The only paeony to show signs of being slightly tender and shy to bloom.

hybrida var. Le Printemps (P. lactiftora x P. Wittmanniana), pale biscuit-white with yellow stamens; carpels tipped crimson; medium-size flower. Two-foot stems.

hybrida var. Avant Garde (P. lactiflora x P. Wittmanniana), creamy-white flushed with pink. Fine and attractive.

hybrida var. Mayflower (P. lactiflora x P. Wittmanniana), pure satiny white flushed slightly with peach-pink when young; pale green carpels tipped carmine; beautiful large cup-shaped flowers. Two-and-a-half-foot stems.

peregrina (syns. P. byzanlinus and Fire King), rich brilliant red or lustrous rosy-scarlet. Goblet-shaped strikingly handsome flowers three to four inches across. Two-to two-and-a-half-foot stems

peregrina lobata, pure light salmon-scarlet; possibly the only paeony of this unusual and striking shade; goblet-shaped. Flowering on from May into June. vff.

Peregrina lobata var. Sunbeam, delightful variety, paler scarlet than lobata.

mlokosewitschi, el car light to medium tone yellow. Lovely flowers five inches across, with showy orange-coloured stamens. Sweetly scented. vff. The foliage is handsome and individual; richly coloured, massive, ovate leaves; stems wine-purple. The seeds, scarlet and black, are ornamental in the opening pods. Flowers in April to May. Two-foot stems.

officinalis var. alba plena, pure white double. Two- to three-foot stems.

officinalis var. anemonaeflora-rosea, carmine-rose; semi-double.

officinalis var. anemonaeflora rubra, handsome deep maroon-red; semi-double.

officinalis var. fulgens-splendens, blood-scarlet, gold-tipped petaloids. Seven inches across.

officinalis var. mutabilis ("Old Double White"), attractive pale coral-pink quickly turning pure white.

officinalis var. rosea-plena, bright pure red-rose; a very pleasing colour. Double.

officinalis var. rubra-plena ("Old Double Crimson"), reddish-purple with garnet-purple and carmine-purple shades.

officinalis var. sabini, fine red.

tenuifolia, brilliant deep red, medium-sized cup-shaped flower with yellow stamens. Very finely cut fern-like feathery foliage on which the flowers rest. Dwarf. Flowers in May to June. A distinct type.

tenuifolia var. plena, double flowered, splendid brilliant glowing crimson globular flower, rather large.

wittmanmana, beautiful palest creamy-yellow with deeper golden anthers; pale green carpels with carmine tips. Red filaments. Very large bowl-shaped flowers. Distinct habit. Two-foot stems. April to May flowering.

veitchii var. woodwardii, small nodding rose-pink flowers. Very distinct in habit and foliage. Dainty fern-like leaves, with arching stems, one foot high. End of May to June.

TREE PAEONIES (Paeonia Suffrutticosa)

Bijou de Chusan, pure white. Large double flowers.

Comtesse de Tuder, salmon-pink lightly tinged rose. diamante, brilliant rose. Large.

Elizabeth, bright rosy-red shaded fire colour. Fully double. A very old favourite.

Flora, pure white. Semi-double with fringed edges.

Fragrans Maxima Plena, clear salmon-pink colour. Large and fully double. Scented.

George Paul, deep violet.

Henryi, amaranth shaded flesh colour. Very large.

Jeanne d'Arc, white flushed salmon, with bright salmon pink centre. Very large and fully double.

Louise Mouchelet, rosy flesh shaded salmon. Very large double flowers.

Madame Stuart Low, bright reddish-salmon. Full double flowers.

Meteore, translucent rose. Large. onyx, brilliant scarlet-red.

Regina Belgica, soft rose shaded salmon. Large. reine du portugal, dark red. Globular in shape.

Souvenir d'Etienne Méchin, china-rose shaded bright salmon. Very full large double flowers. Very vigorous.

Triomphe de Gand, bright flesh touched with salmon


Yano Okima, pure white. Semi-double.


Chromatella, very clear sulphur-yellow. In other respects similar to Souv. dc Maxime Cornu.

La Lorraine, clear salmon-yellow, passing to pure yellow. Large double.

L'Esperance, single flowers eight inches across with eight to ten broad,round, fringcdand waved petals,paleamber-yellow to richer deeper shades of the same colour and spotted carmine at the base. The edges of the petals are tinted pink. The carpels are blood-red. A large tassel of golden stamens in the centre. One plant in Somerset thirty years of age, four feet high and five feet across, bears from eighty to one hundred and fifty flowers each year in May and June.

Madame Louis Henry, cup-shaped single flowers, about six inches in breadth with six or more waved petals of bright deep carmine, buff and pink, shaded salmon and coppery yellow, with purple markings at the base of the petals and orange-yellow stamens; sweetly scented.

Satin Rouge, superb ruby-red turning to brick red. Enormous fully double flowers, eight inches across. Very vigorous.

Souvenir de Maxime Cornu, every stem carries one to three very large full double flowers, six to seven inches in diameter, of perfect form, with petals of a brilliant yellow, heavily shaded orange-salmon. Very fragrant

and lasting.

Surprise, yellow, shaded salmon, old rose and purple. An unusual and striking colour composition. Large and fully double. Fragrant.


A brief historical sketch of the genus Paeonia


order: Ranunculaceae

The mists of antiquity in North-East Asia do not hide the fact that the startling beauty of the paeony was appreciated by the people of China even in remote ages. From the earliest period of which we have, knowledge and probably from still earlier times at which we can only guess, Chinese artists used the paeony in flower and foliage for their drawings on porcelain and embroideries on silk, as Japanese artists later did for their colour prints. These beautiful and accurate designs are mainly of the Moutan or "Tree" paeony (suffruticosa), plants of which first reached Europe as far as is known, in 1789, followed by the next introduction in 1887, less frequently of the herbaceous species known here for so long as sinensis (recently re-named lactiflora) which had arrived in Europe as far back as 1548.

The following account written as far back as 1850, of tree paeonies in China is of interest:

"I walked onwards to the Moutan Nurseries. They are situated near the village of Fa-who, about five or six miles west of Shanghae, and in the midst of an extensive cotton country. On the road I met a number of coolies, each carrying two baskets filled with Moutans in full flower, which were on their way to the markets for sale. When I reached the gardens I found many of the plants in full bloom, and certainly extremely handsome. The purple and lilac-coloured kinds were particularly striking. In the gardens of the Mandarins it is not unusual to meet with a tree paeony of great size. There was one plant near Shang-hae which produced between three and four hundred blooms every year."

The Gardener's Chronicle, December 28th, 1850.

The paeony is still, as it has always been, one of the chief glories of China. There is some evidence of this feeling in the following verse from a modern Chinese song:

There is a gruesome storm in the Garden of the Paeonies,

And the raindrops are like stones, and the wind like a broom.

Yet though the petals fall like lovers' tears,

The flowers will blossom to the end of time.

(The "Garden"= China. 'Storm"=The Japanese The invasion. )

In modern times paeonies bid fair to be the most popular of alt hardy plants throughout North America, owing not only to their beauty and usefulness as a cut flower, but also to their proving hardier than the rose, rhododendron or Azalea, and to their flourishing in both acid and alkaline soils.

Notable paeonies other than P. suffruticosa and P. lactiflora, with the dates of their first discovery by Europeans are P. Delavayi (1884, Western China); P. lutea (1883, Western China); P. Veitchii var, Woodwardii (Kansu), P. Emodi, which pushed itself, probably many centuries ago, as far as the Himalaya range of mountains, where it was found by a European as late as 1868; P. Brownii, reported from North America in 1826, this is interesting as it may have come there with, or at any rate by the same route as the South and North American "Indians" from their original home in Mongolia; P, Wittmanmana (1842, Eastern Caucasus); P. Mlukosewitschi (1900, Northern Persia); P. obovata (1859, Siberia); P. anomala (1877, Central Asia); P. officinalis (1548, South Europe); P. tenuifolia (1765, Crimea and Transylvania; P. mascula (our old friend P. corallina) (Europe and Levant); P.peregrina (1583 and 1629, Balkans); P. arietina (Greece, Levant); P. decora (Servia); P. Cambessedesii (1896, Majorca and Corsica); P. Veitckii (1907, China). There are records of many other species and sub-species but the foregoing are among those of most interest for our gardens.

One reads that the word paeonia traces back to its mention by an ancient writer, Theophrastus, "a friend of Aristotle and Plato", who died 285 b.c. It is said to commemorate a physician named Paeon, who used its roots in medicine. Our great-grandmothers who spoke of the piny-rose were near to the accepted pronunciation of the Latin form.

We may safely say that the honour of raising artificially or by accident the first variety whether from P. suffruticosa (Moutan) or P. lactiflora, would belong to a Chinaman. But those varieties were not allowed to be exported at that time, except possibly to Japan.

In Europe the raising of varieties was commenced before the middle of the nineteenth century by French nurserymen. Of the herbaceous species P. lactiflora, a certain Monsieur Lemoine raised a freak which he called prolifera tricolor, in 1825. M. Donkelaer raised festiva, in 1838, M. Delache, Rubra triumphant, in 1840; and a goodly number of seedlings were named and distributed from that time onwards by Guerin (1845), Crousse (1845), Calot, Verdier, Gombault, Miellez, followed by Méchin, Dessert, Lemoine, Doriat and others. The honour was reserved for James Kelway and his son William to be the first English raisers of new varieties. They were pioneers in popularizing the paeony in Great Britain; and also in introducing it on a large scale from 1890 onwards, to North America. Their work with paeonies dates from about the year 1865, and it has been continued for sixty years by the present writer of the third generation, of the family.


Last word

To what does all that I have written here amount? May I sum it up in a philosophy of the paeony? In the first place, that whilst there are multitudes of beautiful flowers and plants in a world of interesting flowers, the paeony in its present-day types is certainly in the first rank, but that it has been (in this country) markedly overlooked and somewhat neglected! One reason I have already referred to: people are acquainted with the cottage favourite, the Old Double Crimson, and they suspect that other paeonies of which they have no knowledge would be equally commonplace. I have written in vain if this idea has not been dispelled from the minds of my readers. The Old Double Crimson certainly affords a brilliant bit of colour earlier in the year but occupies a niche of its own.

Another cause for their lack of universal popularity is that supplying paeony plants has not been a proposition attractive to nurserymen. Like many things of solid worth paeonies take some time to build themselves up and it has paid nurserymen better to propagate and recommend flowers that take less time to grow into plants fit to send out. In fact professional growers in general have taken "a short view" and have put the labour of their hands and the value of their land to a quicker turnover. This, and the fact that plants that are simply divisions from stools take two or three years before producing fine flowers, has rather unfairly given paeonies generally the reputation of needing several years before they flower. It is true that the nurseryman who is a paeony specialist has to allow two to three years for his young plants to become large enough for him to distribute, but such plants in an amateur's garden will produce a blossom or two the same June and will flower well the following season. From thence onwards flowers will be borne in increasing abundance for an indefinite period, and with very little attention, as it is not a plant that has to be thinned out or divided and transplanted every few years.

There is the point of comparative value. With the honourable exception of books, what equivalent value is to be secured to-day? What equivalent pleasure, permanent or recurring?

My conclusion must be that in the paeony one has consummate loveliness and a perennial joy in return for a minimum of expenditure in money and labour.