i think i really fell in love with peonies when i saw Martha Stewart arrange them in a tall glass vase. she has the most amazing peony garden with rows of the various varieties. i totally understand why, as this herbaceous perennial has spectacular fragrant flowers. the different varieties offer either cup, bowl or saucer-shaped flowers. the deep green leaves of this plant are beautiful in and of themselves. this year, in my garden, my eight peony plants have done very well. the blossoms have been with me for several weeks, as i have staggered my plants in different amounts of sunshine.
therefore, those in full sun bloom first, and then, the next four peonies bloom about 8 or 9 days later, and finally, those in semi-shade bloom last. and, my last two plants are blooming this week for me. the green leaves are wonderful after the plant has bloomed and provide such a nice backdrop to other plants in the area. peonies must be deadheaded.
one suggestion for growing peonies would be to make certain that your soil is very rich. it takes replenished soil nutrients to grow those beautiful blooms. peonies will grow for years, but it is best not to try to move them once planted. their roots are very deep. also, be certain to plant your peonies not too deep in the soil, or they will not bloom for you. i ordered my plants bare root, and planted them about 1-2 inches deep.
i stake my plants every year, as the blooms tend to droop. but, not for long, as i cut them and place them in a vase to enjoy–just like Martha.
peonies will grow in most zones, most commonly zone 3 through 8. in the photo below, you can see one of my other peonies in bud, while the one in the foreground is in full bloom. the level of sunshine will make all the difference.