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Peony's Envy
Peony Garden Planning

Garden Planning Topics:
Please click on the links below for details on the various aspects of peony selection and garden design.
Types of Peonies Types of Peonies Planting Locations Planting Locations
The Big Picture 8 Weeks of Bloom Woodland Peonies Suffruticosa Tree Peonies
Gansu Tree Peonies Lutea Tree Peonies Fern Leaf Peonies Coral Herbaceous Peonies
Types of Peonies Growth Expectations Flower Shapes/Colors
Red Herbaceous Peonies Herbaceous Peonies Recommended Herb Cultivars Using Intersectional Peonies
Routine Maintenance Not Blooming  
Mixing Types of Peonies Structuring Mixed Gardens
Companion Plants
(will open new page)
The Big Picture

There are about as many ways to plan a garden as there are to decorate a house. Styles range from the formal to natural, historic to modern, colorful to monotone. Start with your own style, think about the land you have to work with, the house you are trying to match, and dream. Then take the time to prepare the soil, deal with drainage issues and discover the pattern of the sun. Once this is done you are ready to begin. Know that a beautiful garden takes years to develop, hours of planning, and weeks in the dirt. Remember the old garden truisms - first year sleep, second year creep, third year leap - or first year roots, second year shoots, third year flowers.

For information on planting individual plants see our section on planting on our peony care page. For information about choosing specific varieties of peonies see the section on shapes & colors on our peony care page.


Begin by brainstorming what you want out of your garden. There are about as many ways to plan a garden as there are to decorate a house. Styles range from the formal to natural, historic to modern, colorful to monotone. Start with your own style, think about the land you have to work with, the house you are trying to match, and find what inspires you. Clip photos, search the internet, drive around your neighborhood, tour botanic gardens and parks - take pictures, take notes and ask your friends. This is the time to determine what you like so take it all in. Nothing is set in stone yet so open yourself up and dream.

USDA Hardiness Zone Map

Items to consider:

  • Horticultural Zone
  • Seasonal Rainfall
  • Soil Moisture
  • Sunlight
  • Seasonal Influences - such as hot summer sun or snow drifting
  • Microclimates within Your Garden - shady spots, windy corners, dry & wet spots

Click here for information on the environmental requirements needed to grow peonies.


One of the most important, and often ignored, pieces of creating a successful garden involves the creating a healthy soil environment. There are two ways to go about this in your garden - you can either choose your plants to match the current state of your soil or you can adapt your soil to support the type of ecosystem you desire. Either way in the end the composition of your soil should match the plant species it supports.

A good place to start in the process is to evaluate the current state of your soil. Any plant species that are currently present will be key indicators of the health and composition of the soil - is the vegetation lush and thick, thin and weak, composed of wetland plants, a solid mat of one particular species? Once you infer as much information as possible it is best if you have your soil tested. Your local extension service should offer soil testing. ___ Insert info on how to take a soil test. Be sure to look at the composition of microorganisms in addition to the pH and mineral content of your soil. Remember that the soil is a living ecosystem unto itself and requires ongoing maintenance to remain healthy and functioning. If you are currently having problems in your garden the soil is the best place to begin your investigation.

Click here for information on how to amend your garden soil for peony plantings.


For both existing and brand new gardens it is important to begin by looking at the whole. Determine the overall flow of your garden and consider it's functional needs.

Things to consider

  • The amount of space you have available
  • The dimensions of that space. (Is it long and thin, square, are their lots of existing features to work around)
  • What is the location of the pathways and access points?
  • How do you want to divide up the space? (The size, shape, and location of garden beds)
  • Are there any special use needs? (Kids play area, dog running space)
  • What is the line of sight through the garden and how will pieces look from inside the house?
  • Where does the light come from and how does this vary over the seasons?
  • Are their areas that need special attention? (Very wet, very dry, nothing seems to grow there)
  • Are you attempting to create any visual barriers?


Determine the scope of your garden project - whether you want to tackle the whole area, if you want to divide the garden into pieces and work on them over time, or do the basics now and fill it in later. Also consider the amount of time and effort you want to put in to maintaining your garden. This will not only help you determine the scope it will also help you decide on the style of the garden and the types of plants you will include.


Begin by considering the style of your house and any existing garden elements that are in place. A colonial home will evoke a different overall style than a brick ranch, or a modern home. Be sure to try to match the style of garden you want to create with they style of your home. Use this to determine if you want more of a cottage style garden, a formal garden, a modern garden, as well as what colors of plants to use.

Most perennials take at least three years to begin to reach their full size. Plan your garden for the future, leaving the appropriate space between plants so that each plant can grow to it's full extent. Know that your garden will be beautiful in time, everything must go through it's awkward phase.
Types of Peonies Woodland Tree Herbaceous Intersectional
Click to view our peony care page with detailed information on each type of peony
8 Weeks of Bloom

Peonies are plants that easily create an obsession. The popular herbaceous peony bloom tends to explode in color and then is gone in the blink of an eye - or a hard rain. But once you begin to know the genus paeonia it is possible to create a garden that blooms over 8 weeks, giving the peony enthusiast waves of flowers that will more than fulfill the original obsession.

The 8 Weeks of Bloom is detailed on our Peony Care Page. Click here to be transported to the Bloom Sequence Overview that highlights the full 8 Weeks of Bloom.

Now that you are familiar with the groups that make up the 8 Weeks of Bloom we want to take you through how to use all of these plants in your garden. First to consider, when they bloom in relation to other plants that may or may not be in your garden. Note that this is a rough approximation and seasonal variability may cause bloom times to shift.

Weeks 1 & 2 - Woodland Herbaceous Peonies - Bloom with Late Crocus, Early Daffodils & Flowering Trees

Weeks 2 & 3 - Suffruticosa Tree Peonies - Bloom with Daffodils, early Tulips

Weeks 3 & 4 - Gansu & Lutea Tree Peonies and Fern Leaf Herbaceous Peonies - Bloom with Late Daffodils, Tulips

Weeks 4 & 5 - Very Early Coral & Red Herbaceous Peonies - Bloom with Allium

Weeks 5, 6 & 7 - Lactiflora Herbaceous Peonies - Bloom with Tall Bearded Iris, Lupines

Weeks 7 & 8 - Intersectional Peonies - Bloom with Lilies, Black Eyed Susan


Using Woodland Peonies

Woodland Herbaceous Peonies are a separate species of herbaceous peonies worth noting individually due to their preference for shade. Woodland peonies are deer proof. They naturalize well in a deciduous woodland where they get early spring sun, before the leaves come on the trees, and summer shade.Like most deciduous woodland understory plants they bloom early in the season as they only have access to the sun before the leaves come on the trees and they get shaded out. Woodland peonies look beautiful planted on their own, or can be planted as part of a mixed shade garden with hellebores, hosta, ferns, lily of the valley, and bleeding heart to name a few. They grow 1'-1.5' tall and self seed creating sprays of low growing forest ground cover. Woodland peonies provide three season appeal with delicate white flowers in early spring, lush green foliage throughout the growing seasons, and dramatic indigo and scarlet seed pods in the fall. Good naturalizers, easy to grow, deer proof plants.


For a naturalized planting we begin by throwing the number of tennis balls that correspond with the number of plants we want to plant up into the air loosely and allowing them to settle naturally. Then digging a hole at each location where a tennis ball falls.

PLANTING - Woodland peonies tend to spread more horizontally than they do vertically. They like the rich hummus top soil that tends to be found in the woodland and use this looser soil to grow horizontally. Like all peonies they need good drainage and a relatively high level of organic matter in the soil. We recommend digging holes that are 1 foot wide by 8 inches deep. Woodland peonies should be planted in a similar manner to other herbaceous peonies, click here for details on planting herbaceous peonies.

How to Plant Woodland Peonies
Woodland peonies have viable seeds and if let go naturally will self seed in an area creating swaths of peonies.
Woodland Peony Planting
Using Tree Peonies

Suffruticosa is one of the largest and most well known classifications of tree peonies. This group is also referred to as the Central Plains group of tree peonies as they derive from the Central Plains of China. There is incredible genetic diversity in this type of tree peony. They come in colors that include all ranges of white, pink, magenta and dark maroon (they tend not to produce good yellow, oranges, or true reds). Their flower florm is also incredibly diverse and includes single, lotus, chrysanthemum, rose, crown and bomb. The leaves range in shape from medium to round/orbicular and they very tremendiously in leaf color. Suffruticosa cultivars tend to have outstanding fragrance. See our section below on Cultivar Characteristics of Tree Peonies for more informaiton on flower color, form and leaf shape.

Most of the tree peonies in our catalog come from this group so we tend not to note it specifically. Insead we specify when they differ from this and note them as Gansu or Lutea Tree peonies.

When planting tree peonies it is important to consider the size and presentation of the plant.
Gansu/Rockii Flower

Tree peonies form woody bushes that range in height between 3 and seven feet tall. They should be spaced based on the expected width of the plant and placed in the garden based on the expected height. When grouping tree peonies consider matching height and growth habit above all.

Most dwarf varieties will be spreading, have leaf coverage that spreads to the ground, and become wider than they are tall. Medium height tree peonies are typically partially spreading, forming plants that are as wide as they are tall (5' in diameter and 5' tall). Tall tree peonies are typically conical and form bushes that are taller than they are wide, growing more vertically than they do horizontally.

Dwarf plants are ideal in the front of the garden as they will become densely leafed button bushes. Mid height tree peonies make excellent stand alone plants. They are often seen in a corner that is partially protected from wind, with ample space around them. The coverage at the base is typically sufficient to make the bush beautiful on its own. However they make excellent accent plants at the back of the garden. Tall plants should be planted behind other plants as they have minimal leaf coverage toward the base and will grow rather tall, up to 7'. Plan for ample space in the garden for them to grow into. Keep in mind that tree peonies are slow growing plants and will take 10-15 years to reach maturity.

The placement of your tree peony will depend greatly on the height/shape as well as the leaf type and flower posture. See our peony care page for details on how to choose tree peonies based on these specifications.

Difference in Leaf Coverage - shown in year 4
Tall/Conical - no coverage at base   Med/Part Spread - moderate coverage at base   Dwarf/Spreading - great coverage at base

Remember that tree peonies grow slowly and can take 10+ years to reach their full size. We suggest interplanting tree peonies with shallow rooted plants such as irises that will fill in the space quickly but can be moved once the tree peony grows larger.

Tools Needed Remove Rocks
Space peony so it has 5' to grow into ~5 Year Old Tall/Conical Plant
~15 Year Old Medium/Part Spreading ~15 Year Old Dwarf/Spreading

When using bookends as the caps at the front of the walkway, we recommend dwarf tree peonies as they will have leaf and flower coverage to the base of the plant.

When using them at the back of a long walkway a medium partially spreading plant would be ideal as it would give the height and stature to provide the needed grandeur for the space.

Groupings can be created with tree peonies of the same height and shape, or of varying shapes. Be sure to plant the larger varieties in the back and give each plant adequate space to eventually grow into. Tree peonies like lots of air flow between plants.
A row of dwarf/spreading tree peonies in flower in front of a row of mid/partially spreading tree peonies
4years after planting - note there is already a difference in plant shape & height
Dwarf tree peonies are perfect as low growing hedges or borders.

Using Gansu Tree Peonies

Gansu tree peonies are a subset of the suffruticosa group that are distinguished by their purple flare at the center of the flower. These incredibly hardy plants are from the Gansu region of China. The are often referred to as Rockii peonies as Joseph Rock helped to make them famous outside of China. These plants are very fast growing for tree peonies and become quite large, up to 7 feet tall. This group has thin billowy leaves that give a more informal appearance. They tend to cross pollinate and produce wonderful seeds that can be grown into new cultivars.

Gansu tree peonies can be used in much the same way as Suffruticosa Tree Peonies. See our section above on Suffruticosa Tree Peonies for ideas on planting individual plants, bookends, groupings and borders for ideas on spacing and layout. A few key differences in gansu plants are that they tend to grow more quickly, are more cold hardy, and are tolerant of less sunlight than Suffruticosa tree peonies. These characteristics all extend the growing options for Gansu Tree Peonies.

Because gansu tree peonies grow relatively quickly they can be used to create a fantastic hedge. Plant them 5 to 8 feet apart - for long term planting we recommend spacing them closer to 8 feet apart. Keep in mind that although the colors range from white to burgundy, they are all in the same color family and can be mixed and matched together to make a more dynamic collection. The leaves are small and held on flexible branches, creating movement and interest in the garden. These are majestic plants that carry the most elegant flowers, and yet they have an informal grace.

Using Lutea Tree Peonies

Lutea, sometimes referred to as Delavayi, is a species of tree peony with a yellow pendulous flower. Hybrids created from this plant have some of the most beautiful yellow, gold, and orange, sunset flowers. When considering these cultivars for the colder end of their zone range, zone 4, it is important to note that they are not as cold hardy as their suffruticosa or gansu cousins. In cold winters, or cold zones, Lutea cultivars will often die back to the ground. Not to worry, if planted correctly they will sprout from their root and reemerge as beautiful as ever.

For those of you that have a peony collection, or are interested in starting one, we want to share some tips on adding the less conventional yellow colored peonies to your garden.

Yellow tree peonies bloom after most of the other cultivars. End result, you don't have to worry about matching the yellow's with the other colors. They will provide the bridge between the pink/white/purple tree peonies and the beginning of the coral herbaceous bloom.

A few of the cultivars that derive from this species have flowers that face downward, these are referred to as pendulous flowers. We don't let this stop us from loving these unique plants. One solution is to put the pendulous cultivars at the top of a rock wall. It is spectacular to look up and see these flowers hanging down from above. They are truly stunning plants.

Using Fern Leaf Herbaceous Peonies

Fern leaf peonies are a subset of herbaceous peonies that are hybrids of the peony species Tenuifolia. This species is known for it's vibrant red single flower, its incredibly slender fern-like leaves, short stature, and very early bloom time. Tenuifolia is native to southeast Europe in dry rocky sandy soil, making it well suited for rock gardens. Hybrids of this species tend to have a leaf that is not quite as dissected as Tenuifolia but still carries some of this fern-like appearance. Examples are Early Scout, Merry Mayshine, Little Ted gem, and Smouthii.

The species Tenuifolia should be planted in well-draining sandy soil, similar to that of a rock garden. In dry climates the plant may go dormant earlier than other peonies. The hybrids of Tenuifolia can be planted much like traditional herbacous peonies. Note however that they will present a different leaf appearance, will tend to bloom earlier, and will be slightly shorter than their Lactiflora cousins.

Tenuifolia species
Tenuifolia species going to seed
p. Tenuifolia x p. Lactiflora, p. 'Merry Mayshine'

Using Coral Herbaceous Peonies

Coral peonies are a special subset of herbaceous peony that is actually a hybrid, or cross, between two different herbaceous peonies peregrina & lactiflora. This cross has produced unique colors not often found in traditional peonies. The unique characteristics of these hybrids are that they have just one flower on a rather sturdy stem. This makes them excellent cut flowers and amazing garden plants as they remain upright in the garden without staking.

Coral Herbaceous peonies are our one of our favorite types of peonies to plant en masse. Their strong flower stems hold the flowers high above the plants in waves of coral to cream. The color of this subset of herbaceous peonies changes dramatically as they open - as you can see in the above picture of Coral Charm. The flowers begin a deep coral bud and then fade to cream. When planted in a large group these waves of color are simply breathtaking.

Coral peonies have the added benefit of being the first herbaceous peonies to bloom. This early flowering time makes them not only ideal for cool climates, zones 3-6, but for zones 7&8 in the south as well.
When determining how many plants you need, begin by measuring the garden space you have available. Peonies should be placed three feet apart on center, with at least a foot and a half of space from any edge or structure.
Choose one cultivar or mix them up. They look fabulous no matter which cultivars you choose. Note that Cytherea is shorter than the rest so when you mix that in be sure it is in the front row.

Using Coral Herbaceous Peonies

True red can be hard to come by in peonies. Often you think you have found it and the plant turns out to be magenta. There is a wonderful set of herbaceous hybrids, similar to the coral peonies, that produce outstanding true red cultivars. These flowers tend to be more simple in form. They either have bright contrasting yellow centers, or the spiky inner petals known as an anemone flower form. These cultivars stand upright in the garden without staking, having light flowers on sturdy stems. They are the perfect plants to add some pop to the garden.

Like coral peonies these cultivars look especially dramatic when planted in large groups. This can be a group of all one cultivar or of multiple cultivars all in this true red range.

For a stunning look we suggest planting a row of traditional white herbaceous peonies, such as festiva maxima, in the back with a row of one of the true red herbaceous peonies in the front. This combination is sure to impress.

Using Herbaceous Peonies

The main group of herbaceous peonies, sometimes referred to as the lactiflora group, is the set of peonies that most people know and love. This group has incredible diversity. The color range of this group is from snow white to deep burgundy (they tend not to produce good yellow, oranges, or true reds). These colors blend easily together, making it easy to create beautiful mixed plantings of different cultivars.

One of the most impressive features of this group is that it includes every single flower form known to peonies. This aspect of the groups diversity leads to very different behavior in the garden. The plants traditionally known to US gardeners were actually bread as cut flowers. Their long stems, with 5 flowers per stalk, create gigantic flowers that are ideal when cut. Unfortunately, this also makes the flowers so heavy that they often end up on the ground. There is however a whole set of peonies in this group that has been bread as landscape plants. These cultivars either have large full flowers with incredibly sturdy stems, or they have lighter flowers with fewer petals that can remain upright. We find this difference in use incredibly important, so much so that we note in every cultivar in our catalog whether it is good in the landscape, good as a cut flower, or both. This information can be found in pink on our catalog page, on the third line under each cultivar. Simply look for the "L" for Landscape, or "C" for Cut Flower when deciding on peonies.

Below are some helpful guides on how flower form matters.

The image to the left shows how peonies cultivated as cut flowers behave in the landscape.
The center photo shows how lighter flower forms behave in the landscape.
The photo to the right shows how a heavy flower form with strong stems performs in the landscape.
Tools Needed Remove Rocks
Herbaceous Peony Spacing
An alternative planting plan for the hedge planting is to plant shorter, 2.5' varieties, in front, and taller, 3' varieties, in back. This creates a very dramatic display of color and is great when the cultivars will be viewed primarily from one direction.

Cut flower growing is a true art, the planting and planning is no exception. The above plan is one that is often used by cut flower growers as it allows access all of the plants in the least amount of space. If creating rows they should be far enough apart to accommodate whatever mower you have.

Grandma's Favorite Pack Cut Flower Pack White Pack Mood Mix Pack Landscape Pack

For mass plantings we highly recommend our Peony Packs. We select some of the best cultivars based on a theme. These are our favorite cultivars, they look outstanding together, and they come at a great discount. Here is a rundown of some of our Peony Packs and how they perform as cut flowers.

A. Grandma's Favorite Pack - Large full flowers; many historic cultivars; classic peony look; pink & white cultivars.

B. Cut Flower Pack - Large full flowers known for being great cuts; classic peony look, includes pink, white & red cultivars.

C. White Pack - All white; will have variety in flower form to add interest to bouquets. Results in less traditional bouquets in a very traditional color.

D. Mood Mix Pack - Dark red, magenta & black cultivars; will have variety in flower form to add interest to bouquets. Results in very dramatic bouquets that are less traditional.

E. Landscape Pack - Anemone & single cultivars are currently all the rage in cut flower bouquets. These cultivars pair well with all types of flowers, these flowers don't last as long but are dramatic & intriguing. Good to add to shake things up.

Recommended Herbaceous Cultivars

The list of herbaceous peonies can be daunting, so many colors, flower shapes, and bloom times. This section is intended to give a few examples of cultivars that we have found go particularly well together. Use this section as a guide when choosing your cultivars.

There are countless fragrant peonies. We note under each cultivar in the catalog an "F" for fragrant cultivars. Mix and match ones that you love or select our SIX Favorite Fragrant Peonies.
Duchesse De Nemours Peony Festiva Maxima Peony Rosette Peony Sarah Bernhardt Peony Mons Jules Elie Peony VIctoire de la Marne Peony
Duchesse De Nem
anemone - early
Festiva Maxima
hund prolif - early mid
rose - mid
Sarah Bernhardt
rose - late
Mons Jules Elie
crown - early
Alexander Fleming
rose - mid late
These plants are excellent landscape peonies, their short sturdy stems remain upright in the garden with little to no support.
These plants create an outstanding peony garden on their own OR are the perfect plants to mix in with an existing peony garden.
Pink Luau
Pink as a Young Girl
Inspecteur Lavergne
mid late
Gay Paree
Angel Cheeks
Blue Chrysanthemum
mid late
Blush and pink peonies look exquisite together - this pack seems to exude Sweet Love.
These flowers will make some of the best bouquets you have ever seen.
Pink Luau
Lou Shenk
Loves Touch
mid late
Shirley Temple
Walter Faxon
Angel Cheeks
We love the strong reds with yellow centers. These cultivars tend to bloom earlier than classic herbaceous peonies as they are officinalis hybrids.
We are adding to our catalog as fall progresses, check back for links to these cultivars.
This is the perfect grouping for the landscape. These single & anemone shaped peonies will create a riotous display.
These flowers stand upright in the garden with little to no support and are incredibly floriferous.
Largo Peony Krinkled White Peony
Do Tell
Pink as a Young Girl
Karen Gray
early mid
anemone - mid late
Krinkled White
single - mid
Gay Paree
Choosing cultivars with different flower forms but with the same color creates a very beautiful effect. These classic white flowers look fabulous en masse. We have listed some of our favorites below.
Duchesse De Nemours Peony Festiva Maxima Peony
Duchesse De Nem
anemone - early
Festiva Maxima
hund.prolif - early mid
Krinkled White
Smart Girl
mid late
Couronne D'Or
Bridal Shower
Planting deep red peonies together is sure to make a bold statement. This collection is not for the faint of heart.
Adolphe Rousseau
rose - early mid
Red Charm
crown - early mid
Henry Bockstoce
early mid
Pres Roosevelt
Eliza Lundy
There is something incredibly sweet about a garden full of pink peonies. We love the subtle tonal differences between these cultivars. These plants will give you enviable cut flowers for decades to come.
Garden Parfait
Myrtle Gentry
Alexander Fleming
Edulis Superba
Mons Jules Elie
The graphic above was created for a client that wanted to add a row of plants to an existing peony garden.
These cultivars are wonderful old fashioned plants that will match with peonies that can be commonly found in old American gardens.
Note that these cultivars will need staking and support as they all have long stems and heavy flowers.
Using Intersectional Peonies
Tools Needed

Intersectional peonies can be spaced and laid out in the garden in the same configurations as the herbaceous peonies above. The major difference between intersectional and herbaceous peonies is that intersectional peonies are more compact plants with foliage extending to the base of the plant. This makes them better suited to the front of the garden planning. Intersectional peonies average 2' tall by 3.5' wide at maturity.

Please refer to the illustrations above on herbaceous peonies for ideas on how to space your intersectional peonies. We particularly recommend planting intersectional peonies as the front of a long linear garden border. They not only provide good lower leaf coverage but they also flower for longer than any other type of peony. The blooms last for three weeks and it is not uncommon to see a plant with the first flush in seed, the second flush in flower and the third flush in bloom.

When using intersectional peonies with herbaceous peonies place the intersectional peonies in the front row.
Rows of Intersectional Peonies
Mixing Types of Peonies
Using a combination of herbaceous, tree & intersectional peonies can offer a dramatic result. Locations for each type of peony should be based on their light requirements (herbaceous & intersectional peonies want full sun, while tree peonies want dappled light) as well as the space available in the garden (3 feet for herbaceous & intersectional, 4-5 feet for tree). Tree peonies will bloom first, followed by herbaceous peonies, followed by intersectional peonies.
Plants shown from left to right - intersectional peony, tree peony, herbaceous peonies
Planting Example - It will be years before these light purple tree peonies reach full height (5ft)
Once they do they will tower over the herbaceous peonies to the right of them.
Wooded areas with dappled light are better suited for tree peonies.
Herbaceous & Intersectional peonies will grow but will not flower to their full extent.
Structuring Mixed Gardens
Often the defining part of your garden is not the individual plants but rather the formal structure you put in the garden - the long pathway that leads your eye, the trellis that captures your attention, or the stone wall that anchors the garden. Without the structure even the most well maintained garden can look unkempt. Below are photos from our gardens and those nearby, that exhibit the importance of structure.

- Grass Pathways -

- Mulch Pathways -

- Brick Pathways -

- Concrete Pathways with Trellis -

- Trellises as Garden Feature -

- Stone Wall & Stairway to Change Grade -

- Stone Stairway as Focal Point-

- Rock Walls to Change Grade & Frame Garden -

- Seating Areas -

- Formal Structure with Informal Planting -

Tools Needed Remove Rocks
Tools Needed Remove Rocks
The Frame Place & Fill


Our raised beds measure 12 feet long x 4 feet wide x 1 foot deep.

You will need:
2 - Pressure treated pine boards (not for growing food) that are 1 foot x 2 inches x 12 feet
2 - Pressure treated pine boards that are 1 foot x 2 inches x 4 feet
1 - Pressure treated 4 inch x 4 inch post - cut into 4 - 14 inch tall sections
32+ - 3 1/2 inch deck screws, we use size 10
32+ - washers with a 1/4 inch hole
Drill Bit & Drill

Line all pieces up in a rectangle using 4x4 posts on the inside corners of the boxes. Use 4 screws & 4 washers, 8 per corner, to attach each corner of the long boards to the 4x4 posts (pre-drill each hole). Note that the 4x4 posts will extend a few inches below the box to keep the sides of the raised beds from sitting in the mud.

Boxes can be lined with landscaping fabric to hold in the potting mix but still allow drainage. If you opt not to use landscaping fabric note that the potting mix will settle out at the beginning, until the soil structure develops. We recommend using potting soil as the growing medium because soil compacts and doesn't allow enough drainage. We avoid all bark (creates fungus in peonies). Promote drainage by amending your potting soil with such things as compost, coconut core, rice hulls, worm castings, perlite and crushed limestone or granite. You want to create a light friable potting medium.

Companion Plants
Click here to view our page dedicated to Companion Plants
  • Fearnley-Whittingstall, Jane. 1999. Peonies, New York, New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
    • Beautifully designed, sections on history, garden planning, cultivar selection, and planting.

  • Halda, Josef J. with Waddick, James W. 2004. The Genus Paeonia, Portland, Oregon:
    Timber  Press, Inc.
    • Illustrated by Jarmila Haldova, this book discusses 25 native species of the genus Paeonia.

  • Harding, Alice. 1993. The Peony, Portland Oregon: Sagapress, Inc. & Timber Press, Inc.
    • A compilation of Harding’s original works on peonies first published in 1917 &1923, which remain compulsory reading. Introduction and updates by Roy Klehm.

  • Lianying, Wang, 1998. Chinese Tree Peony, Beijing China:
    China Forestry Publishing House.
    • The best book I have yet to find on peonies.

  • McGeorge, Pamela. 2006. Peonies, Buffalo, New York: Firefly Books.
    • Good overview, an enjoyable read, packed full of information.

  • McLewin, Will & Chen, Dezhong. 2006. Peony Rockii and Ganzu Mudan, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Wellesley-Cambridge Press.
    • Best book I have found on Rockii Peonies/Gansu Mudan

  • Osti, Gian Lupo. 2004. The Book of Mediterranean Peonies, Umberto Allemandi & C. New York, New York.
    • Wonderfully illustrated introduction to thes lesser known peony species

  • Page, Martin. 1997 & 2002. The Gardener’s Guide to Growing Peonies, Portland, Oregon:
    Timber Press, Inc.
    • Another primer, good pictures and descriptions of well-known herbaceous cultivars.

  • Rogers, Allan 1995. Peonies, Portland, Oregon: Timber Press, Inc.
    Written by a grower, this book is well written and most helpful.

Peony's Envy PO Box 114 - 34 Autumn Hill Drive Bernardsville, NJ 07924