Silvia Saunders

This blooms very early for a lactiflora. The small flowers surrounding the terminal make for a single stemmed bouquet.  It is absolutely charming and unique and should be more widely grown. Saunders’ notes indicate it likely originated in 1905 or 1906 so it is really his earliest introduction. 

It is one of the few Saunders varieties grown by W.E. Upjohn and still found in the historic peony collection of Nichols Arboretum at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.  Its name had been lost until the collection was toured by a group of knowledgeable APS members including Don Hollingsworth according to Passion for Peonies: Celebrating the Culture and Conservation of Nichols Arboretum’s Beloved Flower (Michener & Grese, 2019).

Cultivar: Silvia Saunders
Year: 1921
Seedling No: 284.
Parentage: 0: lactiflora cultivar
Flower: Color: rose pink with lighter centers, fades to white
Form: semi-double, multiple side buds open while terminal is still in bloom
Blooms: Week 5
Carpels: 8, greenish yellow
Stigmas: bright pink
Disc: [DISC]
Stamens: lemon yellow filaments, may have petaloids mixed in with stamens
Plant: Habit: upright rounded bush
Foliage color: slightly lighter green leaves, shiny, dark red stems
Foliage form: narrow, not lobed
Height: 27″ (reported), 34″ in 2021
Recommendation: Highly recommended
Availability: Rare