The peony is like the little black dress of flowers: stylish, timeless and always reliable. In fact, gardeners have been planting these beauties for more than a century. "If well-sited, peonies can bloom for 50, 75, 100 years," says Roy Klehm, peony expert and owner of Klehm's Song Sparrow Farm and Nursery in Avalon, Wisconsin.
New colors in peonies, such as coral and salmon, and versatile flower forms, from petal-packed "bombs" to single-petaled flowers with huge swirly centers, offer flower fans beauty in both the garden and vase.
"Peonies offer structure and fragrance in gardens and the landscape," Roy says. And they are favorites in the Midwest, where cold winters and hot summers suit these showy perennials.
Pictured: Mix different flower forms of similar colors to create a textural bouquet. A sweet trio (from left): white 'Over Easy', green-tinted 'Green Halo' and kiss-of-pink 'Serene Pastel'.