This was my first Saunders herbaceous peony and is likely the most widely grown of all his introductions. It is another of the quadruple hybrids named for a Greek goddess – Athena is the goddess of wisdom and warfare and patroness of Athens. It wasn’t registered during Saunders’ lifetime.

‘Athena’ has strong stems and is a favorite cut flower and show peony as well as a good garden specimen.

Cultivar: Athena
Year: 1955
Seedling No: 16245. Page 47 of Silvia Saunders’ Notebook
Parentage: 28: lactiflora X (‘Otto Froebel’ X 5397) (5397 = mlokosewitschiii X macrophylla)
Flower: Color: ivory tinged pink with rosy flares; fades to white
Form: single, cupped when first opening, 2 rows of petals
Blooms: Week 4
Carpels: usually 3, light green, slightly woolly
Stigmas: dark rosy pink
Disc: white, edged pink, obscure
Stamens: filaments yellow, abundant stamens
Plant: Habit: rounded bush, can flop
Foliage color: medium green
Foliage form: medium sized leaves, not notched
Height: 31″ in 2022
Recommendation: Highly recommended
Availability: Most specialty nurseries