I simply adore tree peonies and have been collecting them for quite some time. As many of you know, I have a long tree peony border planted in a semi-shade of giant maples near my Summer House. Many of the specimens were transplanted from my Turkey Hill garden in Westport, Connecticut and continue to thrive here at my Bedford, New York farm.
Recently, I visited Cricket Hill Garden in Thomaston, Connecticut, where the Furman Family specializes in Chinese tree peonies, Paeonia suffruticosa - propagating cultivars, which are outstanding in hardiness, vigor, color, form and fragrance. I have known owner, Kasha Furman, for many years - in fact, she has been featured on my television show, and many of her tips are on my web site at marthastewart.com. I purchased several tree peonies from Cricket Hill to add to my collection. I am so excited to see how they grow.
Here are some photos - enjoy.
Cricket Hill Garden was founded in 1989, with a focus on Chinese tree peonies. It was one of the first nurseries in the United States to sell true-to-name varieties of these rare plants. https://www.treepeony.com/
Tree peonies, or 牡丹 Mudan in Chinese, are long-lived deciduous woody shrubs native to China that can grow in USDA zones 4 through 9.
At Cricket Hill Garden, peonies are grown without the use of any synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides.
Here is Dan Furman, the son of founder, Kasha Furman. Dan has taken the lead in diversifying Cricket Hill Garden’s offerings to include hardy fruit trees and berries for edible landscaping.
Here are just a couple of the specimens I purchased – they are so healthy.
Growing peonies is not difficult, but the Furmans recommend they be planted in moist but well-drained soil and partial shade.
As soon as I got them home to the farm, Ryan unloads them right near the tree peony bed where he starts selecting the perfect spots to plant them.
Ryan chooses their locations based on full grown plant size, growing habit and color.
This is what my tree peony garden looks like in bloom – shrubs are filled with color and life.
It’s planted with white, pink, yellow, red, and burgundy flowers.
The ones I purchased at Cricket Hill are mostly shades of pink and white. Though somewhat slow growing, a mature tree peony can have more than 50 eight to 10-inch flowers.
The specimens labeled with numbers are seedlings, so each one is unique.
This peony has mid- to-dark pink petals that radiate from maroon center flares. A very attractive landscape plant that will quickly grow into an impressive specimen. (Photo by Cricket Hill Garden)
This is seedling #642. Tree peonies are deer resistant and fairly drought tolerant once established.
I love its white petals and dark pink and yellow centers. It will make a lovely addition to my garden. (Photo by Cricket Hill Garden)
This is seedling #820. Tree peonies should be planted where it can get at least five to six hours of sun. (Photo by Cricket Hill Garden)
This is seedling #18. Tree peonies bloom on ‘old wood’ and are not cut back in the fall.
Look at this beautiful combination of white, dark plum and yellow. (Photo by Cricket Hill Garden)
Here, Wilmer digs another hole for one of the new peonies. When planting peonies, be sure the soil is deep enough to accommodate a peony’s extensive root system.
Depending on the size of the plant, flowering can happen any time from the first year to four-years from planting.
This is seedling #933. Tree peonies produce gigantic dinner-plate-sized flowers on plants that grow from three to seven-feet tall. (Photo by Cricket Hill Garden)
Unlike the more common herbaceous peonies, which flop over if not staked, tree peonies bloom on graceful woody stems. which allow them to stand upright without any staking.
This is seedling #947 – another beautifully colored pink specimen. (Photo by Cricket Hill Garden)
This one is named “Claudia” – with bright, clear, reddish-coral single blossoms that fade to salmon pink as the flowers ages. (Photo by Cricket Hill Garden)
‘Beauty Yu Ji in a Red Dress’ is named for Yu Ji, the consort of the general, Xiang Yu, who sought to become emperor of China after the collapse of the Qin dynasty in 209 CE. (Photo by Cricket Hill Garden)
‘Blue Sapphire’ is a fast growing cultivar that’s ideal for smaller gardens. Its flowers open with a soft purple, pearlescent, luminosity. The petals change to soft white, with purple-magenta flares at the center. (Photo by Cricket Hill Garden)
And this is peony seedling #1748. (Photo by Cricket Hill Garden)
Here, you can see some of the buds already beginning to swell and form. This is a very healthy plant.
All the peonies are now planted in their new locations – I am sure they will flourish here, and bring me years of beautiful flowers.
And in just a few weeks, this bed will be in full bloom – I will be sure to share some images with you. What peonies grow in your garden? Let me know in the comments section below.