Herbaceous Peonies

Professor Saunders began his peony breeding around 1905 with P. lactiflora, the common garden peony originating in China, and registered a few new lactiflora cultivars.  About a decade later he started crossing both named cultivars and his numbered seedlings with other species found throughout Europe and Asia.  He also made crosses between the various non-lactiflora species. Both groups are known as herbaceous hybrids and came in many new patterns and colors.  Finally, he made crosses between his hybrid peonies, both by selfing to produce F2’s and outcrossing to produce cultivars with as many as four species in their parentage. From his approximately 12,000 herbaceous seedlings, he named and registered 187. His daughter Silvia Saunders reported about 120 being grown widely in 1960. Since his death in 1953, others have named another dozen and a few more still exist today under seedling number.

The first group of peonies are those I currently grow in my own garden.  The second grouping is of peonies known to be growing in other private or public gardens or nurseries.  Finally I added a list of those for which I haven’t found evidence of their current existence – The Likely Lost. 

Most photos were taken during May 2020, a great project during social isolation!  If you have a “missing” photo or plant to share, please let me know. I will be sure to credit you for any photos you supply.  I also welcome any additions/corrections to the information about each peony. Here’s hoping we uncover some “lost” peonies!

Click on the photos to view the descriptions and additional photos!

In My Garden…

Alexander Woollcott

Archangel

Artemis

Athena

Audrey

Ballerina

Blushing Princess

Bordeaux

Bravura

Burning Bright

Camellia

Campagna

Cardinal’s Robe

Carina

Cavatina

Cecelia

Chalice

Claudia

Constance Spry

Coralie

Cytherea

Dawn Glow

Defender

Early Daybreak

Early White

Early Windflower

Earlybird

Echo

Edward Steichen

Elizabeth Cahn

Elizabeth Foster

Ellen Cowley

Fantasia

Firelight

Frances

Garden Peace

Good Cheer

Good Will

Grace Root

Great Lady

Halcyon

Helen Matthews

Herald

Heritage

Honor

Hope

Horizon

Janice

Jean Cowley

Julia Grant

King’s Ransom

Lady Gay

Late Windflower

Laura Magnuson

Lavender

Legion of Honor

Liberator

Little Dorrit

Lotus Bloom

Lovebirds

Lovely Rose

Ludovica

Lustrous

Magnolia Flower

Man of War

Matilda Lewis

May Lilac

May Music

Merry Mayshine

Mid May

Montezuma

Moonrise

Nadia

Nightwatch

Nosegay

Nova

Pageant

Paladin

Patriot

Picotee

Pink Chalice

Playmate

Postilion

Queen Rose

Red Red Rose

Requiem

Reward

Rose Crystal

Rose Garland

Rose Noble

Roselette

Roselette’s Child

Rushlight

Sanctus

A & D Saunders 02

Saunders 8969

Scarlet Tanager

Seraphim

Serenade

Shell Pink

Silver Dawn F3

Silvia Saunders

Skylark

Solo Flight

Sophie

Sparkling Windflower

Sprite

Starlight

Strawberry Wine

Sunlight

Sweet May

Time Traveler

Tranquil Dove

Victoria Lincoln

White Innocence

Winged Victory

Winterthur

Your Majesty

In My Garden…Peony Mixups… a Cautionary Tale

Received as Astarte. Likely Janice or Queen Rose

Received as Good Cheer.  Is Patriot

Received as Good Will.  Is Hope

Received as Nathalie.  Likely Janice or Queen Rose

Received as Rose Diamond. Is Pageant

Received as Rose Tulip.  Likely Janice or Queen Rose

Received as May Music. Click photo to see more.

Received as Rushlight. Is Lady Gay

Received as Victoria Lincoln. Trying to Identify

Known to be in Other Gardens…

 Alert

Anthem

Astarte

Birthday

Carolina

Daystar

Emmy Swan

Erebus

Gillian

Grace Loomis

Gwenda

Madrigal

Mermaid

Nathalie

Papilio

Red Lacquer

Rose Diamond

Rose Tulip

Rosy Cheeks

Saunders 4992

Diantha

Likely Lost…

The following peonies have not shown up in the online plant databases of public gardens I’ve searched, in nursery catalogues, or in the lists of my peony growing acquaintances. Some were listed by A.P. Saunders as discarded and others failed to show up in the notes taken by Silvia Saunders during the 1960’s. Of course, they may still exist, perhaps unidentified, in private gardens. Please contact me if you have one of these!

Alida, Alison, Amity, Angelica, Anniversary, Ariel, Belinda, Bright Diadem, Buccaneer, Burgundy, Candlelight, Caress, Carolina, Celia, Centaur, Chalice Pink (likely Pink Chalice in my garden), Challenger, Charity, Circlet, Clarion, Corinth, Delphi, Eastern Morn, Eclipse (breeders want this one), Elysium, Emblem, Evensong, Faith, Famie, Fidelity, Fireflame, Fortune, Francis Red, Grace MacLean, Green Ivory, Harbinger, Honored Guest, Jacqueminot, Jeannette, John C. Wister, Joy, Ladybird, Louise, Mariner, Marta, May Morning, Mercy, Morning Star, Northern Lights, Olivia Saunders, Pinkie, Red Cockade, Rosalba, Rose Royal, Roselette’s Child F2, Rosy Wreath, Silver Swan, Sunglint, Tantrums, Valor, Verity, Vindicator.