Best of the bunch
This beautiful blousy bloom may be fairly shortlived but makes a statement in early summer in any garden, in colours ranging from deep red to baby pink, yellow and cream.
Its huge flowers should be combined with plants that have many smaller flowers such as catmint or Alchemilla mollis. Peonies are easy to grow, although they do need shelter from the wind.
They thrive where the early morning sunrays miss them, so that any buds that have been frosted overnight have a chance to thaw out slowly.
Grow them in moisture-retentive, but well-drained and fertile soil with plenty of added organic matter.
Plants will take a year or two to settle down but once they do they should keep going for years.
Good varieties include Paeonia officinalis ‘Rubra Plena’ and the cream-coloured ‘Duchesse de Nemours’.