April 24, 2017

The Plush Perfection That is a Peony

Paeonia 'Hammond Street' - herbaceous peony

Janine Pineo Photo | Paeonia ‘Hammond Street’ – herbaceous peony

Expect a riot of color and varieties during the June 22nd tour

Paeonia suffruticosa 'Banquet' - tree peony

Janine Pineo Photo | Paeonia suffruticosa ‘Banquet’ – tree peony

Paeonia 'America' - herbaceous peony

Janine Pineo Photo | Paeonia ‘America’ – herbaceous peony

Paeonia 'Coral Sunset' - herbaceous peony

Janine Pineo Photo | Paeonia ‘Coral Sunset’ – herbaceous peony

• By Janine Pineo •

For a June afternoon in Maine, the sky was summer blue, the breeze a soothing whisper and the temperature a comfortable high.

Add a walk amongst peonies starting to come into bloom and one could put it into the class of rare days where the planets align, the stars all twinkle and Mother Nature is benignly smiling down on the world.

It was the annual garden tour Saturday for The Peony Society of Maine. I had been just once before, June being a busy time in my own garden. But I decided that I needed

Paeonia 'Hammond Street' - herbaceous peony

Janine Pineo Photo | Paeonia ‘Hammond Street’ – herbaceous peony

to go peek at what was in bloom in Ken Liberty’s peony garden.

Despite the odd spring we’ve had, more than a dozen varieties were in bloom. A couple of the folks told me that I must come back next Saturday (read about that here) when the plants would be rioting left and right. The sign of buds galore were the proof.

A number of other gardeners have added their places to the list, so you need to stop by 23 Ohio Street first, see that lovely collection and then head off with your list to the other eight locations showing off their peony treasures.

One such treasure at the Liberty garden is a peony named Hammond Street. The helpful but impish Gary told me that Ken rescued the peonies from a house

Paeonia 'Hammond Street' - herbaceous peony

Janine Pineo Photo | Paeonia ‘Hammond Street’ – herbaceous peony

on Hammond Street where they were going to be “compost,” so to speak. As you can see from the pictures, they range from single to at least semi-double blooms and are a delicate shade of pink and white.

While there, you may run into folks you know; I did. And then I met folks who know folks I know. And it felt like I’d known the new folks forever. We laughed, we talked – and talked – and the impish Gary even held up one lovely bloom that was too heavy to hold itself upright so I could get a picture of its magnificence. Two people offered me cut flowers to take home, although I declined because I knew they would faint in the heat of the car.

That is the beauty of Maine and gardeners and peonies. It’s home.

Garden Maine loves peonies. Click here for a list of stories.

Click here for details on next weekend’s garden tour.

Paeonia suffruticosa 'Kinshi'

Janine Pineo Photo | Gary holds up the weighty blossom on Paeonia suffruticosa ‘Kinshi’