Thursday, April 30, 2009

Duke Gardens: What's in Bloom

Paeonia – Peony

We have two different types of peonies in the Gardens. In bloom for the last three weeks have been the tree peonies (a bit of a misnomer, they are really shrubs) and herbaceous peonies (pictured above), everybody’s favorite. They are just starting to bloom, but with the 80 degree weather we’ve had recently, they may not last long.

Featured from early Chinese history to the present, the peony has often been called “the queen of herbs.” Yet it was prized not just for the beauty and fragrance of the flowers but for its many medicinal uses. It has proven antiviral and bacteriostatic properties. And because the leaves are bitter, deer generally don’t go beyond the first bite.

Herbaceous peonies have been a standard in the garden throughout much of the United States because they are a very cold-tolerant, drought-hardy perennial.

They are a feast to the senses in any garden.You can enjoy them for the next week or so in our Historic Terrace Gardens.

-- Alice LeDuc, director of adult education

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