Raspberry Sundae Peony
Paeonia 'Raspberry Sundae'
One of the famous Estate series of Peonies developed by top American hybridizer Roy Klehm to have bigger, fully double blooms than its humbler cousins, 'Raspberry Sundae' succeeded beyond anybody's dreams! Not only are the flowers packed with petals, but they have a subtle, very pleasing fragrance that wafts through the garden or living room without overpowering its neighbors. The form of the flower is called "semi-rose" for its combination of flat, outstretched outer petals and upright, frilly interior petals. The color shades from pale shell-pink to deep berry, with hints of primrose at the base, for a creamy confection that varies from bloom to bloom and is unendingly delightful.
The blooms begin in late spring (midseason for Peonies) and continue into summer on rounded, full plants 27 inches tall. If you are planning a Peony garden (lucky you!), 'Raspberry Sundae' is a fine companion to the snowy double globes of 'Princess Bride,' as well as a gentle contrast to the rich reds of 'Red Charm' and the dimunitive 'Early Scout.' Or set it among sun-loving blue-flowered perennials such as Aster 'Monch' and spring- or summer-blooming bulbs.
Plant 'Raspberry Sundae' in full sun and well-drained, moisture-retentive soil well enriched with organics. If you are planting more than one, space them about 3 feet apart. Hardy in zones 3-8, it is an especially fine performer in very northern regions where some Peonies struggle.
The merits of Peonies are virtually endless! First, they are exceptionally hardy ? easy to grow and carefree once established. One of the longest-lived perennials, a single plant can last for generations, blooming as reliably in its 50th year as it did in its 3rd!
Second, their phenol content makes them unappetizing to pests, including insects, rabbits, and even deer. (Imagine a "deer fence" consisting entirely of rows of Peonies along the border of your property! Okay, it would be a little short, but what an impact!) Remarkably disease free as well, they literally need no attention once established.
Third, they truly offer three seasons of color. The new spring foliage is reddish; the bright blooms span late spring and early summer; and the fall foliage is tinged with bronze or purple tones.
Fourth, they are equally suited for the landscape or the vase, offering old-fashioned cottage garden charm plus armloads of stunning blooms. Very long-lived in the vase, the flowers can even be upended and dried for use as everlastings (the red and pink singles are best for this ? their color and petals outlast those of their paler, double cousins). Mature plants have a pleasingly rounded, plump form, and the foliage stays fresh even in the dog days of August.
Fifth ? but you already know this ? the blooms are out-of-this-world lovely in color, fragrance, and form. As showy as roses and vastly easier to grow and care for, they are the unsung heroes of the flowering garden.
Peonies are a nice "bridge" plant in the garden, looking something like a perennial and something like a shrub. They have enough height to form a good backdrop to low-growing and petite annuals and perennials, yet are compact enough for a slender border or corner display. Planted in front of large shrubs or trees, they make a big splash of color without occupying a lot of space.
Traditional companions to Peonies are spring- and summer-flowering bulbs (because Peonies' lush foliage nicely hides the slumping stalks after the bulbs have bloomed), blue- and white-flowered perennials, larger flowering shrubs such as Azaleas and Rhododendrons, part-shade plants such as Helleborus, and ornamental grasses. Zones 3-8.
|Zone||3 - 8|
|Bloom Season||Late Spring - Early Summer|
|Plant Height||2 ft 3 in|
|Plant Width||24 in - 3 ft|
|Bloom Size||6 in|
|Additional Characteristics||Fragrance, Flower, Double Blooms|
|Light Requirements||Full Sun, Part Shade|
|Moisture Requirements||Moist, well-drained|
|Resistance||Disease Resistant, Pest Resistant|
|Soil Tolerance||Normal, loamy|
|Uses||Beds, Cut Flowers, Outdoor, Ornamental|
|Restrictions||Canada, Guam, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Hawaii|
Space plants 3 ft apart in full sun or light shade, the latter being preferable in southernmost zones. The ideal soil is rich and moisture retentive, but well drained.
When planting, set the root clumps in the hole so that the “eyes” or growing points are covered with no more than 1-2 inches of soil. Do not plant too deeply or your peony will not prosper.
It is vital that these plants be kept well watered during their growing season. As peonies are heavy feeders, fertilize each spring with a high phosphorous fertilizer after growth has started. When cutting, remove as little foliage as possible, since the leaves are necessary for plant growth and vigor.
Remove spent flowers and, in the fall, cut back dead foliage. Established plants prefer not to be moved. In situations exposed to heavy winds, staking or a plant support hoop may be necessary.