‘Earlybird’ is one of the first Saunders peonies to bloom and is such a welcome and cheery sight each spring.  Mine is planted next to ‘Nosegay’ whose bloom season overlaps with it. The foliage is echoed in the Thuja occidentalis ‘Enlighted’ planted behind it (which will no doubt outgrow its given space).


Cultivar: Earlybird
Year: 1939
Seedling No: 8807. Page 143 of Saunders’ notebook III
Parentage: 23: tenuifolia X anomala woodwardi


Flower: Color: red (“fine unfading red” – A.P. Saunders)
Form: single, 1 row of petals
Blooms: Week 2
Carpels: 3, red, woolly
Stigmas: red
Disc: white, inconspicuous
Stamens: filaments pink, abundant stamens
Plant: Habit: rounded bush
Foliage color: medium green
Foliage form: very finely divided, intermediate between parents
Height: 34″ in 2021


Recommendation: Highly recommended
Availability: Many specialty nurseries