A Peony Garden

The lovely colors and fragrances
of peonies have made them the favorites of many generations of gardeners and garden-lovers. Strangely enough, however, public peony gardens that display a great many varieties of the flower, all growing together, are quite rare.
      This Peony Garden in the Springfield Botanical Gardens in Springfield, Missouri, is a superb exception. Among the newest of these beautiful botanical gardens, it allows visitors to see, enjoy, and compare more than 50 peony varieties ranging from the old-fashioned favorites to the very newest hybrids.
      The Garden was created in 2008 by Dr. Bill Roston, who designed and helped install it and has done the same for a great many of the botanical gardens.
      For several years the Peony Garden was adopted by and cared for by Cindy Baird, who also served as secretary of the Friends of the Garden, the volunteer organization that creates, maintains, and improves virtually all of the Springfield Botanical Gardens. Cindy not long ago stepped down from the stewardship of the Garden, and it is now cared for beautifully by Janice Hayden.
      The Springfield Botanical Gardens are located at 2400 South Scenic in Springfield. The Peony Garden is in peak bloom from about mid-May into June.

In the Beginning


In its beginnings in 2008, the Peony Garden was designed along a lovely curvilinear path next to the Daylily Garden and its gazebo. Here George Deatz, at that time the president of the Friends of the Garden, the volunteer group that funds, creates, maintains and improves the botanical gardens, surveys the layout.



Cindy Baird has taken great care in maintaining and improving the Peony Garden, with the help of Friends of the Garden volunteers. She says the garden now contains 120 plants in 50 varieties. Of the flower's historic appeal, she adds, "The fragrance and beauty of these heirloom flowers has a way of warming the heart and spirit."



Fortunately for all who love Peonies and this very special Garden, in Cindy's absence Janice Hayden stepped forward in 2016 to shepherd the Peony Garden, a major contribution to the gardening world in our region. In our opinion, she did a beautiful job, for which we're very grateful.

The Peonies

When the peonies come into bloom in mid-May, they fill the Garden with color and fragrance. Cindy says, "The fragrance of the peonies en masse is an absolute sensory experience. They are also a great visual experience when they're massed."  She adds that there are 120 peony plants in the Garden and that "This is the garden you want to be visiting regularly from May through June."

Many Admirers

As old-favorites of generations of gardeners, the Peony Garden attracts many, many visitors. These young ladies are enjoying the heady experience of the flowers' mixed fragrances.

The Background

The evergreens behind the garden seem to form a perfect background for the colorful flowers. In the foreground, daylilies in the botanical complex's Daylily Garden, soon to come into bloom and now honored as a National Daylily Garden.


'Garden Peace'--The "Simple" Flower Form


'Garden Peace' is a marvel in the garden and an excellent example of a Peony with the "simple" flower form, meaning a flower with one or two rows of petals and a clearly visible stamens center. 'Garden Peace' can grow to more than 4 feet tall and bears side buds on long red stems for a long blooming season. The flowers also have a sweet fragrance.

'She's My Star' Peony--The "Bomb" Flower Form


'She's My Star' is a remarkably lovely peony with the "bomb" flower form, meaning a completely double flower whose center petals form a ball that differs from the "guard petals." A vigorous grower, it reaches 28 inches tall and bears 5 flowers per stem.

'Prairie Moon'--The "Semi-Double" Flower Form


'Prairie Moon' is an especially lovely peony with the "semi-double" flower form, meaning a flower with many rows of petals but still with a well defined stamens center.  'Prairie Moon' flowers open a sulphur yellow, turn to a very pale yellow, then turn to ivory. The stems are quite tall but strong enough that they don't require staking.

'Ann Cousins' Peony--The "Double" Flower Form


'Ann Cousins" is a marvelous example of the peony "double" flower form, meaning a flower completely covered with petals and no visible stamens. 'Ann Cousins' is a virtually spectacular presence in any garden or landscape, with its pristine white blossoms as much as 10 inches wide and imparting a wonderful "old rose" fragrance. The plant does require support but its beauty is well worth the effort.

'Gay Paree' Peony--The "Japanese" Flower Form


'Gay Paree' is a good example of the "Japanese" flower form, meaning that the flower is simple with the stamens transformed into "petaloids" (small petals) that create a more imposing center. 'Gay Paree' features cerise pink outer (guard) petals with a light pink to creamy white petaloid center. A vigorous plant, it produces numerous blooms with stems strong enough to not require staking.

PEONY VARIETIES in this garden:

The Amabilis Peony

The Amabilis Peony, sometimes identified as Paeonia lactiflora 'Amabilis', is a vigorous old-fashioned heritage Peony with very large, fragrant double flowers a vivid fuchsia-pink in color. The plant grows 3-4 feet tall and requires staking to support its very weighty flowers. It prefers full sun in cooler climes and likes part shade in warmer areas.


The 'Bartzella' Peony (Paeonia 'Bartzella') is said to be unsurpassed for beauty, fragrance, and elegance in the garden. An Itoh Hybrid, in 1999 it cost more than $1,000 per division, but, thankfully, can be found for $50 or less today. Extremely vigorous, it grows to 3 feet tall and as wide and bears 80 or more flowers per season. It likes full sun to part shade and requires staking. 

'Buckeye Belle'

'Buckeye Belle' is a semidouble Peony with velvety red blooms that make very showy cut flowers. The plant grows 1 1/2 to 2 feet tall and 2-3 feet wide. Its stems are sturdy enough that it does not require staking.

'Bridal Gown'

'Bridal Gown' bears gorgeous, fragrant, creamy-white double blossoms on a short, compact plant that grows to 32 inches tall. The blossoms make excellent cut flowers and the stems are strong and do not require staking.

'Candy Heart'

'Candy Heart' (Paeonia lactiflora 'Candy Heart') is so named because its creamy-white petals may have splashes, streaks, or blushes of red or pink reminiscent of peppermint candy. The blooms are fragrant. The plant grows to 34 inches tall and requires staking. 

'Cheese Country'

'Cheese Country' (Paeonia lactiflora 'Cheese Country') bears large, lightly fragrant flowers that are a vivid rose-pink in color with large yellow-gold centers. (The rose-pink petals emerge from the yellow-gold centers after the third year.) The plant grows to 26 inches tall. 

'Coral Magic'


'Coral Magic' (Paeonia lactiflora 'Coral Magic') is an extremely vigorous plant that bears cup-shaped semi-double flowers rose-coral in color with a double to triple row of petals. The foliage is rich forest green and very attractive. The plant grows to 30 inches tall and does not require staking.

'Doris Cooper'

'Doris Cooper' (Paeonia lactiflora 'Doris Cooper') is classic, award-winning Peony famed for very large, beautiful double blossoms very light pink in color. The plant grows to 32 inches tall and the flowers make exceptionally good cut flowers. 'Doris Cooper' won an American Peony Society Gold Medal in 1949. 

'Festiva Maxima'
'Festiva Maxima' (Paeonia 'Festiva Maxima') is one of the showiest of all peonies with its huge, pure-white, crimson-flecked double flowers. The flowers, which are very fragrant, also have an exceptionally loose form which for many makes them even more appealing. The plant grows to 3 feet tall and as wide. Its stems are strong and may not require staking. 

'Green Lotus'
green-lotus-peony-jpg.jpg'Green Lotus' (Paeonia 'Green Lotus') is a most unusual peony by virtue of its uniquely cactus-dahlia-like flower form and white-to-lime color petals faintly tinged with pink. The flowers are 4-5 inches wide. A bush peony, the plant is quite vigorous and grows to 29 inches tall.

'Little Pink Lullaby'


'Little Pink Lullaby' (Paeonia lactiflora 'Little Pink Lullaby') is beloved for its large, 6-inch-wide billowing flowers. The plant grows to only 22 inches, is vigorous and compact, and does not require staking. The flowers make excellent cut flowers.

'Margaret Clark'

'Margaret Clark' (Paeonia 'Margaret Clark') is an old-fashioned classic Peony that produces an abundance of exceptionally lovely rounded flowers deep pink in color. The plant, much loved by gardeners, is vigorous and grows to 34 inches tall.


'Normie' (Paeonia 'Normie') bears large, double rose-pink blossoms tinged with silver.The flowers are very nicely formed and make superb cut flowers. The plant grows to 30 inches tall.

'Ole Red'

Much to our surprise, we're unable to find any information at all on the 'Ole Red' variety Peony. We're surprised because we've seen it in person and up close think with its beautiful burgundy petals and creamy centers, it really is a major standout in the Peony Garden.

'Petite Elegance'

'Petite Elegance' (Paeonia lactiflora 'Petite Elegance') is much loved for its petite pale-pink semi-double flowers. The plant grows to 24 inches and is exceptionally vigorous and strong, requiring no staking. Ideal for small spaces, this Peony can also be relied upon for superb cut flowers.

'Prairie Moon'
prairie-moon-peony-jpg.jpg'Prairie Moon' (Paeonia 'Prairie Moon') is much-desired by gardeners and homeowners for its large, creamy yellow semi-double flowers. Considered one of the most beautiful of all hybrid  peonies, it grows to 32 inches tall and as wide. The stems are very strong and do not require staking.

'Raspberry Sundae'

'Raspberry Sundae' (Paeonia lactiflora 'Raspberry Sundae') is a gorgeous Peony with a luscious name and a luscious look. Its lovely, pink-and-white flowers grow to 6 inches wide and sometimes even wider, have a beautiful fragrance, and make superb cut flowers. The plant grows to 3 feet tall.

'Tom Cat'

The 'Tom Cat' Peony (Paeonia lactiflora 'Tom Cat') is as sprightly as its name, bearing eyecatching carmine-red flowers with cream centers.  The plant grows to 25 inches tall and the flowers make superbly attractive cut flowers.

'Top Brass'

'Top Brass' (Paeonia lactiflora 'Top Brass') bears large, lovely, creamy white flowers with bright yellow highlights. The flowers can be as wide as 7 inches and are wonderfully fragrant. The plant grows to 22 inches tall.

'Ursa Minor'

'Ursa Minor' (Paeonia lactiflora 'Ursa Minor') bears beautifully fragrant flowers with deep raspberry petals and cream centers tinged with pink. The plant grows to 30 inches tall. The flowers make excellent cut flowers. Note: The flowers are smaller than most peonies, making it especially suitable for smaller gardens.

'White Cap'

'White Cap' (Paeonia lactiflora 'White Cap') is a marvelous award-winning Peony that bears Japanese form flowers with raspberry petals and ivory-and-pale-pink centers. Stems are strong and the plant grows to 32 inches. 'White Cap' won the American Peony Society Gold Medal in 1991.

A Mystery Beauty

Happily, almost all of the peonies in the wonderful Peony Garden in the Springfield Botanical Gardens are labeled with the variety name. This one, however, is a mystery beauty. Some miscreant pinched the label, so you can call it whatever you like. Me? I calls it a winner.

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