The Gardens at Greenwood – Peonies in June – 2023

Together with head gardener Stephanie Morris and photographer Stephanie Pehar, Greenwood and the Hudson Garden Club are excited to introduce a summer series featuring the beauty of the gardens at Greenwood Centre for Living History in Hudson, QC.

The Hudson Garden Club started in the early ’60s with Dorothy Shepherd and her niece Phoebe Nobbs Hyde who tended to a cutting garden located across from Greenwood. The flowers were donated to adorn the altars of both St. James and St. Mary’s churches and they began to meet regularly with others in the community to swap tips, seeds and cuttings.

Today, many plants acquired by Phoebe Hyde still remain at Greenwood. One of the most abundant are the peonies which are well known for their longevity – 50 to 100 years. Many gardeners have divisions from a mother’s or grandmother’s plant so nostalgia makes them even more special.

Herbaceous peonies are one of the most glorious, romantic, exuberant stars of the May/June garden. Beloved for centuries in China and later in Japan, hybridization has given us flower forms as diverse as single, semi-double to double, “bomb” to “anemone”. Colours vary from purest white to a wide range of pink and burgundy. As if these qualities aren’t seductive enough, they are also deliciously fragrant.

Peonies are very easy to grow in well drained soil with 6-8 hours of direct sunlight. Plant potted specimens from the garden center at exactly the same soil level as in the pot. If planted too deep, they won’t bloom. Bare root divisions, available from a reputable mail order nursery like “En Fleurs”, are planted from September on with the eyes 2” deep. Dividing an existing peony or moving one is best done in September. Staking peonies is essential in spring to support the heavy blooms and when peonies aren’t wowing us with their impressive flowers, they are a handsome, dark green, glossy foliage plant. One is never enough!

Written by Stephanie Morris
Photography by Stephanie Pehar

The peonies have bloomed for the season, but don’t miss what’s next – come and visit Greenwood (254 rue Main, Hudson QC) to witness the beauty in person! 2 for 1 house tours ($10.00 for two) are available only to HGC members until August 6th – make sure to bring your membership card!