Pillowy Billowy

Peonies.  I love peonies.  There is no other flower you want to nestle into and actually go to sleep on.

These are my favourite peonies for pillowy billowiness.

‘Barbara’ has been the queen of my rose garden this week.

Peony 'Barbara' (3)

Peony ‘Barbara”Barbara’ exudes competence and confidence.  She knows how to be a peony.


Peony ‘Barbara’ with Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’And here she is after the main blooms have been removed, leaving the secondary, smaller flowers. They are less ‘double’, and have spikier petaloids.


Peony ‘Barbara’ with Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’ and Geranium ‘Anne Thomson’We inherited this next peony, which I think is ‘Festiva Maxima’.  Never was a name more apt. I love the picotee edging of deepest magenta on this peony.  It reminds me of raspberry ripple ice-cream.  Or to bring it up to date, a huge meringue with a swirl of blackcurrant.


This peony is huge, and produces a mass of flowers. It needs heavy-duty staking, and tends to still fall over into its neighbour, which may be Peony ‘Edulis Superba’.  These peonies were flowering when we moved in.  Every year I wonder if I should dig up ‘Festiva’ because it is too close to ‘Edulis’, but somehow I never get around to it, and four years on, here they are, still in a tussle.


I need to indulge my fetish for magenta peonies.  These are all in my bright border.  First ‘Karl Rosenfield’.  This photo was taken two years ago when it was just casually chatting to Geum ‘Hilltop Beacon’.


Peony ‘Karl Rosenfield’ and Geum ‘Hilltop Beacon’Oh!  That colour combination still gives me a thrill.  And the juxtaposition of delicate little geum with its bowed head, just whispering, and big blowsy peony, all ears.

I couldn’t quite reproduce that combination this year, because the geums were almost over before the peony popped its pods.  But no matter.  Here it is with Geranium ‘Brookside’.

Peony 'Karl Rosenfield' (2)

Peony ‘Karl Rosenfield’Do you want to get closer?  Just look at those softly scalloped petals.  The tumbling silken folds!

Peony 'Karl Rosenfield' (3)

Peony ‘Karl Rosenfield’Now here for a spot of confusion.  I have mixed up my ‘Kansas’ and my ‘Inspecteur Lavergne’  You know how it is, you plant out, you make a note, you lose the note, you pencil it in on your plan, what you think you planted where.  Then you doubt yourself and rub it out.  And before you know it, you’ve rubbed it out and re-written it so many times there is no way of tracing your original, probably accurate, hunch.

So I think this is ‘Kansas’.

Peony 'Kansas'

But it could be ‘Inspecteur Lavergne’.  It is the silver edging that is confusing me, because Inspecteur is supposed to have the silver-edging, but I’m sure I didn’t plant it here.

Whatever it is, let’s just adore it.  In the morning dew,

Peony 'Kansas' with dew

In the afternoon sunshine.

Peony 'Kansas' (3)

Now I think we need a palate-cleanser.  Peony ‘Duchess de Nemours’.


Peony ‘Duchess de Nemours’Oh, I love that lime green at the centre.

The Duchess was growing under our lime tree until last winter.  She was stoical, and I was loathe to move her because she looked so fantastic with all the other zingy greens under the tree.  But she could only muster a handful of flowers there, and really was roughing it with the roots of the lime tree.  So out she came, and she is now thriving.

‘Duchess de Nemours’ has the most perfectly white buds you ever saw.  Here is one, just opening out.  I’ve had to be very patient with this peony (not my forte) because she is almost the last to flower.  But she is worth the wait.  She smells lovely too.  Which not all peonies do.  There are only one or two which are offensive, and only then if you really stick your nose in.  Most have a sort of peppery, gingery, sometimes pungent spice-mixture smell.  I find that it blends well with roses if you pick them together.  The peony’s spiciness balances out the roses’ sweet fruitiness.


Peony ‘Duchess de Nemours’The very last peony to to flower in my garden, is ‘Paul M. Wild’.  He too has marvellous buds.

Peony 'Paul M. Wild'

Peony ‘Paul M. Wild’ in bud.They are tantalisingly slow to unfurl.  I love the notching on the petals of this peony, like they have been laser-cut.

Peony 'Paul M. Wild' (5)

Peony ‘Paul M. Wild’Here he is on the kitchen table, his petals just opened out a little more, to reveal some little whitish tendrils of petalloids just nestling between the petals.

Right. I need my morning coffee to wake me up after all this lounging about with the peonies.

Which are your favourites?

If, like me, you are a total peony freak, then click on the ‘Peonies’ tag below to find more to canoodle.

My aim on this site is to share the sense of wonder I get from gardening and being outdoors. 

If you would like to join the joy, click on the ‘Follow’ button at the end of this post. You will receive an email each time I post a little pop of wonder. 

25 Comments Add yours

  1. Nat says:

    Ok so my fav peony of your post has to be ‘Fesitva Maxima’. Gorgeous. However my all time favourite part of this post was the tag ‘flower porn’ haha. Thanks for the smile. I needed it today.

  2. Gabriella says:

    Beautiful! What time of year did you move your peonies?

    1. Ali says:

      Hi Gabriella. November. Or when the foliage has started to die back. I then cut it all off, dig up the root ball and replant, being careful not to plant too deep (or the peony may not flower).

  3. I could not agree with you more. I could nestle into these and be quite content. Gorgeous! 💞😊

  4. Christina says:

    We have a peony farm near us with literally thousands of peonies. If you search on peony you’ll find several posts.

    1. Ali says:

      Thanks Christina, I will do just that. I think I remember salivating over a post about a visit to a peony farm – it may well have been yours!

    2. Ali says:

      Feel free to add a link to your posts here if you like – am sure there will be other peony nuts who are interested!

  5. I think I like ‘Festiva Maxima’ the best. You have a lovely assortment of peonies to share. It got up in the 90’s here just when the peonies were opening, so the blossoms didn’t hold up and only lasted a day or two. What a crime.
    I love starting my day with your sense of humor and beautiful garden photos. Thank you.

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you Cindy, that is a very nice comment. Oh no! Poor old peonies, and poor you! You must be feeling under-peonied!

  6. Rupali says:

    Gorgeous flowers. The fragrance in your garden must be divine.

    1. Ali says:

      That is a lovely addition, yes. I do spend a lot of time with my nose buried in a flower.

      1. Rupali says:

        🙂 I would do the same.

  7. susurrus says:

    Oooh! I have lots of favourites here. If I had to pick one, it would be your possible P. ‘Festiva Maxima’ – although it seems prettier and more unusual, with the band of cream and the pink upper petals. I can never manage to photograph the bright pink ones – you’ve done a great job capturing the colours.

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you – that’s interesting what you say about capturing the colours. Sometimes my SLR struggled with blues – particularly hardy geraniums, which is really frustrating because they are one of my favourites and I want to get the colour just right. If it looks off, then I just use my iPhone. It doesn’t have the same resolution or the blurring of the background, but it does always seem to get the colour right. It’s complicated, isn’t it?

      1. susurrus says:

        I agree. I don’t expect the colour to be spot on, but when what I see through the camera lens is completely different to the plant before me, I do find it disappointing.

  8. bcparkison says:

    Choose? Do I have to? Just beautiful! Walking throught your garden must be like dancing in a dream.

    1. Ali says:

      What a lovely image! Thank you.

  9. Heyjude says:

    No way can I choose one. I want them all! No room here for even one and I think the wind would have those skirts off in a jiffy. So I shall salivate all over yours. Sorry for the mess…

  10. Jill Kuhn says:

    Festiva Maxima is so gorgeous and I just love the pink ribbon of color in it. It looks like several flowers in one! 💕👍 My other favorite here is “Barbara.” Yet, they are ALL so beautiful!! And I love your descriptions!! 💝 If you have access to a copier, these flowers make the most awesome prints… just lay it on the copier glass and copy – black and white or color, both are beautiful! 💜

    1. Ali says:

      Ooh… will try that!

  11. Eliza Waters says:

    I adore peonies. You have a marvelous collection. Mine are in full bloom now, too, and I go out several times a day to admire them, put my arms around them and inhale. Exquisite!

    1. Ali says:

      We are kindred spirits, Eliza. ❤️

      1. Eliza Waters says:

        Yes, I think so! 🙂

  12. I love peonies. I have ten or twelve around the beds and enjoy every one. 🙂

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