A way to extend the all-too-short but oh-so-glorious peony season is to include tree peonies in your garden.
Paeonia suffruticosa hybrids bloom a week or two earlier than P. lactiflora and P. officinalis hybrids.
Their exoticism may make you think they’re temperamental, but that’s not the case at all, although they are slightly less hardy—Zone 4 versus the common peonies’ Zone 2.
Plant so the graft union is a few centimeters below soil level. A site with part shade is best. Because they’re shrubs, stems remain over winter, not dying down to the roots like their herbaceous sisters.
Another bonus: no staking or pruning required.
A tree peony’s blooms are bigger as well as more silken and saturated with colour than those on common peonies. My yellow tree peony is the colour of lemon sherbet. They also come in other luscious shades, like raspberry, salmon, rose and deep, shiny purple. The flowers have a tendency to open all at once, rather than over a period of a week or two, but that only adds to their glamour.