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…
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 Blushing Princess. Is Bashful Queen (Anderson/Swenson)
Received as Rose Diamond. Is Pageant
Received as Rose Tulip. Likely 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…
Nova I (Olga)
Looking for photos of the following plants which are likely still in other gardens! Please let me know if you can supply a photo. Thank you.
Alert, Anthem, Birthday, Diantha, Emblem, Erebus, Gillian, Grace Loomis, Mermaid, Rose Tulip, Rosy Cheek, Saunders 4992, and Silver Swan.
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, Celia, Centaur, Chalice Pink (likely Pink Chalice in my garden), Challenger, Charity, Circlet, Clarion, Corinth, Delphi, Eastern Morn, Eclipse (breeders want this one), Elysium, 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, Sunglint, Tantrums, Valor, Verity, Vindicator.