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Which peonies here are favorites of the Peony Advisory Board?


Each of our Advisors has decades of experience with peonies or historic garden plants. Each brings her or his unique perspective for favorite peonies at the Nichols Arboretum. Here are their top choices in their own words.

Lindsay D'Aoust of Quebec, Canada

'Edulis Superba'. Introduced in 1824 it has been in commerce for over 185 years and I suspect its the oldest cultivar still in commerce today. It was introduced by the French man Nicholas Lemon. I read in an old American Peony Society publication that Mr. Lemon was probably the first European to introduce new peony cultivars that were grown from seed. I can't find any original source material to back this assertion but no one is claiming otherwise.

'Madame Emile Galle'. History, fragrance, and coloration are the major attractions. Emile Galle was a French artist best known for his Art Noveau works in glass. He also had an interest in natural sciences and drawing plants. He was born and worked in Nancy, France, as did Felix Crousse [one of the important breeders in the Nichols Arboretum collection.] Because of the mutual interest in plants, I assume that they must have met and Mr. Felix Crousse named this peony for Henriette - the wife of Emile Galle.


Don Hollingsworth of Missouri, USA

I like 'Do Tell' for the color and form.


Reiner Jakubowski of Ontario, Canada

'Myrtle Gentry'. The most fragrant peony I've ever grown.

'Marie Crousse'. Used this one in breeding.

'Silvia Saunders'. I don't grow this one, but I think it would make a nice garden plant.


Scott Kunst of Michigan, USA

'Festiva Maxima'. It was introduced in 1851. One of the oldest peonies in the Garden and a popular favorite for over 150 years.

'Sylvia Saunders'. For its cluster-flowered bouquet on each stem.

'Opal'. Flowers open pink & white; then develops into a ghostly lavender/gray & white.

'Albiflora, The Bride'.  Looks much like the nameless white single peony which was growing in the yard of the first house I bought as a young man and which helped spark my lifelong interest in heirloom flowers.

'Madame Ducel'. From the 1880s - a compact, perfect little pink 'bomb'.


Scott Parker of Wisconsin, USA

'Silvia Saunders'. 

'Kelway's Majestic'. 

'Madam Butterfly'.