The American Peony Society
The premiere peony society is the American Peony Society (APS). APS is the International Registrar for the genus Paeonia. Professor Saunders was closely associated with APS throughout his lifetime, serving as Editor, Secretary, Vice-President, and President. The many articles he wrote for APS form the basis of our understanding of his efforts in hybridizing peonies. His daughter Silvia Saunders carried on this tradition of service as Editor and President of APS for several years.
I strongly encourage readers to examine the extensive information APS has posted online and to consider joining as a member. Members can elect to receive the APS Bulletins in print or electronic form, attend APS annual conventions, enter exhibitions, and participate in auctions which are often the only source for rare Saunders peonies. They also have access to even more online material through the Members Only portal. Silvia Saunders’ notebook has recently been scanned and added to that site.
Additionally, there are numerous regional peony societies throughout the world. Many of these are listed on the APS website. Check to see if there is one in your area.
Saunders Peonies in Public Gardens
Central Experimental Farm, Ottawa, Ontario (herbaceous only)
Linwood Gardens, Linwood, New York (woody only)
Hamilton College Arboretum, Clinton, New York (both woody and herbaceous)
Scott Arboretum, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania (mostly woody)
Winterthur Museum and Gardens, Winterthur, Delaware (both woody and herbaceous)
Video courtesy of Hamilton College Archives. This is a home movie taken by Alexander Woollcott in the early to mid 1930’s. It
Unless otherwise noted, all photographs were taken by me in my own garden. Most were taken in 2020 using the same camera (Nikon) and lens (macro). While most experts suggest taking photos early in the morning, some peony flowers do not open fully until later in the day. In that case I used exposure bracketing to compensate for higher intensity of light and typically selected the less exposured shots. My photography skills have been greatly improved by taking classes from Mark Stoltenberg https://www.markstoltenbergphoto.com/ and I encourage others to invest in some lessons to help document their collections.
For more fabulous peony photographs (Saunders cultivars and others) check out Nick’s website https://prairiepeonies.com/ showing peonies growing in his Edmonton, Alberta garden.
I’ve purchased Saunders peonies from most U.S. nurseries specializing in peonies as well as from several in Canada and Europe. Some of these nurseries have now closed or are no longer shipping to the U.S. so I’ve chosen not to identify my source for a specific plant. The APS website has an extensive list of vendors for you to peruse. I’ve now “exhausted” most commercial sources and rely on gifts from other collectors or purchases at peony society auctions.
I’ve received encouragement and information from many members of APS and would specifically like to thank Don Hollingsworth, Nate Bremer, Reiner Jakubowski, and Henry Chotkowski as well as my frequent companions in traveling to peony gardens, Kris Jurik and Nicki Wiederstein. The archivists at Hamilton College, formerly Katherine Collett and now Jeremy Katz, have been very helpful in giving me access to the Saunders Family Papers held at Hamilgon College https://archives.hamilton.edu/repositories/5/resources/89 . And lastly, thanks to my very patient husband Jack, who cheerfully digs holes, performs many other garden chores, and promises to be my traveling partner for new peony adventures.
Please contact me at email@example.com with any comments, corrections, or additions to the information on this website. My goal is to have a true-to-name collection of Saunders peonies and correct descriptions of each of them. I intend to pass the plants on to a public garden in Iowa where they can act as a reference garden for Saunders peonies as well as to supply the Saunders Collection in the Grant Garden of the Hamilton College Arboretum with any they are missing.