When creating a planting scheme, one of the criteria that we are asked by our clients to consider is longevity of interest. And quite understandably so; we all want our gardens to have colour, scent and structure for as long as possible throughout the year.
To this end, when selecting plants we always say that each one has to earn its place, and often it will be those that flower for a long period. This becomes increasingly important in smaller borders, where space is at a premium and the luxury of a succession of colour is not so easy to achieve.
This brings me to Peonies. In many ways they fail to meet the requirements of our planting schemes. They flower for a short period of time, if it rains the blooms often turn to mush or fail to open altogether, and once flowering is over, the foliage spends the summer looking tatty.
And yet…how can one resist those sumptuous blooms? Perhaps it is the brevity of their flowering and their slightly fickle tendencies that give Peonies a touch of the exotic. Would we feel the same if they flowered all summer?
Peonies are not difficult to grow – give them a sunny spot, don’t plant them too deep and they will reliably flower year after year. When we use them in planting schemes we tend to place them behind plants that will flower later, so that as the foliage turns less attractive, there is something else to look at. Planted in amongst all the stalwart hard-working plants, Peonies are a worthy indulgence for which a space should be made.