Peonies a Plenty! [Part II]

Photo by Brian Baldwin. Fernleaf peony in bud, showing exquisite foliage.

Sara Williams, Saskatchewan Perennial Society

Last week’s column provided an introduction to peonies, their history and care. An old favourite in our perennial borders and one that seldom disappoints, here are some of the varieties that have graced prairie gardens for many decades.


‘Bowl of Beauty’ (1949) has large, rose-pink flowers with a creamy yellow centre on 90 cm (3 ft) plants.

‘Coral Charm’ (1964) has large, semi-double, coral peach flowers and is 90 cm (36 in.) high.

‘Coral Sunset’ (1981) is 75 cm (30 in.) high with large, semi-double coral pink flowers.

‘Do Tell’ (1946) is orchid pink to rose pink with a yellow centre and 80 cm (32 in.) high.

‘Edulis Superba’ (1824) is a very old hybrid but still considered among the best. It is magenta rose with a sweet fragrance and 95 cm (38 in.) high.

‘Gay Paree’ (1933) has brilliant magenta outer petals around a pale pink centre.

‘Laura Dessert’ (1913) has fragrant, fully double, pale pink, saucer-shaped flowers and is 1 m (40 in.) in height.

‘Monsieur Jules Elie’ (1888) has large, ruffled, double rose-pink blooms on 90 to 95 cm (36 in.) stems. It received an Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.

‘Raspberry Sundae’ (1968) has double, pale pink flowers with a yellow centre and a sweet fragrance and is 90 cm (36 in.) in height.

‘Sarah Bernhardt’ (1906) has relatively weak stems of 95 cm (36 in.) and very large, fragrant, double, soft apple blossom pink flowers.

‘Sorbet’ (before 1987, origin unknown) is 75 cm (30 in.) high with an upright form and double, soft pink and ivory flowers.


‘Buckeye Belle’ (1956) is 85 cm (34 in.) high with semi-double, dark red flowers with a pale red centre.

‘Early Scout’ (1952) is 85 cm (34 in.) high with very fragrant, large, single red flowers with a yellow centre.

‘Felix Krause’ (1881) is 75 cm (30 in.) in height with very large, double red blooms with a sweet fragrance.

‘Flame’ (1939) is among Sara’s favourites. It has single, orange-crimson flowers and is 90 cm (3 ft on plants 60 to 90 cm (2-3 ft).) in height.

‘Henry St. Clair’ (1941) is 80 cm (30 in.) in height with double red flowers.

‘Kansas’ (1940) has very fragrant, double, deep crimson-purple flowers and a height of 100 cm (40 in.).

‘Karen Gray’ (1965) has fuchsia red petals surrounding yellow stamenoids on 65 cm (26 in.) stems.

‘Karl Rosenfield’ (1908) has mildly fragrant, crimson red, double flowers on 80 cm (32 in.) stems.

‘Red Charm’ (1944) is 90 cm (36 in.) in height with deep crimson, double flowers.


‘Le Printemps’ (1905) has large creamy yellow petals with the centre veined violet carmine on plants about 70 cm (30 in.) in height.


‘Claire de Lune’ (1954) has single, cup-shaped ivory flowers with yellow centres and is 85 cm (34 in.) high.

‘Duchess de Nemours’ (1856) is 80 cm (32 in.) in height with very fragrant, double, creamy white flowers.

‘Elsa Sass’ (1930) is 70 cm (28 in.) in height with double white flowers.

‘Festiva Maxima’ (1851) has large, double, white flowers with flecks of red, is very fragrant and about 100 cm (3 ft) high.

‘Honey Gold’ (1966) has fragrant, double white flowers with a pale yellow centre and is 90 cm (36 in.) in height.

‘Primevere’ (1907) is 90 cm (36 in.) high with fragrant, white double flowers with a lemon yellow centre.

‘Requiem (1941) has single, creamy white flowers with a spicy fragrance on 90 cm (36 in.) plants.

And, last but not least, the fernleaf peony (P. tenuifolia), native to the dry meadows of southeastern Europe, Asia Minor and the Caucasus. It is early flowering with very finely divided foliage and deep red single flowers.  ‘Plena’ is the double form.

Next week: Peonies, Part III, the Itoh Peonies

Sara Williams is the author of many books including Gardening Naturally with Hugh Skinner, Creating the Prairie Xeriscape, and with Bob Bors, Growing Fruit in Northern Gardens. She gives workshops on a wide range of gardening topics throughout the prairies. This column is provided courtesy of the Saskatchewan Perennial Society (SPS; Check our website ( or Facebook page ( for a list of upcoming gardening events.