Tales from the Walled Garden

Pretty peonies all in a row

At Houghton Lodge Gardens, we are very proud of our Peony Walk. From the beginning of June the glamorous, blousy blooms line the paths under the rose arbors with shades of pinks – from deep crimson to powder pink and delightful sweet smelling fragrances.

Peonies (Paeonia) are low maintenance and pretty simple to grow. They prefer to be in full sun and grow best in a good drainage soil. Their blooms are often doubles and will require staking as their heads become heavy with beauty. Just watch out for early-summer rain as a heavy downpour can quickly strip the petals on younger plants where the foliage isn’t big enough to protect them.

Plant the peonies alongside longer-flowering periennals in borders. Whilst the peony flower is stunning, they are short lived so having them mixed with other flowers will ensure that there is continuous colour and blooms.

Best planted in autumn or early spring, they only need to be in shallow soil. Planting them at just 5cm is enough so be careful not to plant them too deep. In autumn, when putting the gardens to bed, it is best to cut back the peonies foliage and cover them with a good dressing of mulch, but when you do this, be sure not to cover over the crowns with manure.

If some peonies are becoming too big or you are trying to create a line of peonies for a peony border, they can be lifted in autumn and divided, but again, remember not to replant too deep as they may not flower the following season but will restart the next year.

Our varieties at Houghton Lodge Gardens along Peony Walk include Inspector Laverne, Emperor of India, Cheddar Gold, Day Spring, Bowl of Beauty, August Dessert, Anna Pavlova, Sarah Bernhardt, Denise, White Wings and Kelway’s Surprise.

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