You will be surprised to learn that literally until the middle of the last century in our country almost all peonies were originally from France. Of course, we remember grandmother’s village front gardens, where usually grew a few nameless bushes: a couple of early red, a few pink and always white. Names of varieties, of course, no one knew, and, in fact, did not think about it. Peonies were purchased in the markets and exchanged with neighbors and differed except in color.
But it is noteworthy to say that among herbaceous peonies there is some absolutely mongrel, without family and without a tribe. Any of them necessarily belongs to some sort, just a few years ago, wandering from front garden to front garden, he lost his name, like impoverished nobles who have lost their origin.
Meanwhile, all of our grandmother’s nameless bushes – the heirs of the peonies, which more than 100 years ago were bred in France, where the XIX century was the center of breeding of these plants. There worked such originators as Kahlo, Cruz, Lemoine, Desser, Millais, Doria, Rivoir. France then essentially became the second homeland peony, made in Europe from China.
Features of French varieties
Peonies brought from Europe were initially grown in Botanical gardens and Apothecary gardens and used as medicinal plants. Then they were planted in the manor houses, and later, after the revolution, from the ruined noble estates, they scattered through the village front gardens. Actually, the idea of what should be a classic peony, developed in our people under the influence of French varieties.
First of all, the peony should exude a wonderful aroma – odorless is not a peony at all, so most people think. Absolutely all the old classic varieties created by French gardeners, have a strong smell – lilies of the valley, ancient roses, lilac or cloves, Jasmine or citrus. And they all bloom lush double flowers pinkish, corona, spherical or hemispherical shape.
Varieties with white flowers
Many varieties of French heritage have white flowers of different nuances. It can be white with a lemon tint, as in abundantly flowering varieties ‘Duchesse de Nemours’ (1856) or extremely fragrant ‘Enchantress’ (1903).
Pinkish when dissolved, and then brightening to a pure white variety ‘Madame de Verneville’ (1885), bred by albert Cruz, forms a lush Bush with strong non-running stems. A huge advantage of this variety – an amazing aroma of roses.
‘Avalanche’ (1886), synonymous with ‘Albatre’, has white flowers with a light pink center and red marks on the petals. ‘La Lorraine’ (1901) blooms with cream caps with pink saturation to the center. The ‘Madame Emile Lemoine’ (1899) has pink spots on the petals and red marks in the center.
Gorgeous very late variety with fragrant white-cream flowers ‘Marie Lemoine’ (1869), as well as cream with a light pink glow, is now extremely rare ‘Solange’ (1907). Lemoine variety ‘Primevere’ (1907) — creamy white with red markings, in the center of the yellow base of the petals, at the end of flowering whites.
Another stunning historical peony with an amazing aroma and large pink-cream-white flowers with yellow illumination in the center — ‘Madame Jules Dessert’ (1909). Or the famous Lemoine variety, once very popular, ‘Le Cygne’ (1907) – white with yellow illumination, with dark green folded leaf plates. Gorgeous and white-pink variety ‘Argentina’ (1924).
But perhaps the most famous of the white French peonies is the famous variety ‘Festiva Maxima’ (1857), it is also the most common and recognizable – abundantly blooming, with Carmine-red markings on pure white petals. Large rosy flowers, exuding a wonderful aroma of roses, well kept on strong stems. The variety is characterized by vitality, high resistance to disease, stands perfectly in the cut.
Varieties with pink flowers
Among the old French varieties preserved many varieties with flowers of pink shades. And the most famous of them is, of course, ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ — a variety bred by Lemoine in 1906 and named after the outstanding French dramatic actress.
Talking about the beauty and exceptional economic qualities of this class has become commonplace. Really a fantastic beauty thick Terry flowers hat some awesome pink-purple shade blackcurrant sorbet like a rose perfect shape. Harmonious Bush and abundant flowering make this variety the most famous and desirable in our gardens. Among its advantages – strong stems, rare vitality, delicate aroma.
In the line of French pink peonies there are still many masterpieces. This pink-purple floriferous ‘Albert Crousse’ (1893); like him, only with the silver tips of the petals, and is still popular multiple winner of the exhibitions in the nomination “Prize of spectator sympathies” ‘Monsieur Jules Elie’ (1888).
Or fragrant ‘Alice Harding’ (1922) with dark pink outer petals and cream-white crown, as well as light pink ‘Belle Douaisienne’ (1861) and ‘Madelon’ (1922) with light pink outer petals, cream-pink crown and red marks.
The collectors can still be found extremely rare now pink ‘Eugenie Verdier’ (1864) — crowned, with pink outer petals and light pink middle of the narrow petal, with yellow saturation inside.
Courtly French liked to dedicate their creations to the ladies, the French peonies such a lot. This pink varieties of different shades:
- ‘Madame Boulanger’ (1886) — rose-shaped variety with silver-flesh edges of petals;
- ‘Madame Calot’ (1856) – hemispherical peony, whose lower petals are pink and Central cream;
- ‘Madame Marine’ (1881) in a rare salmon-pink shade;
- ‘Madame Reignoux’ (1909) with pink and red flowers.
Of the first peonies obtained in France in the middle of the century before last, it is not uncommon crowned ‘Philomele’ (1861). It is a variety with lilac-pink outer petals, cream crown and lilac-pink center, sometimes with red marks. Don’t you? After all, this is a description of the peony, which is very often found in our gardens, not realizing that this is a rare historical variety, and we take it for an ordinary!
Varieties with red flowers
Among the red “French” can be called not so many varieties, but they are all outstanding. This early variety ‘Aviateur Bleriot’ of unknown origin, and red-pink ‘Linne’ (1860), and the famous late variety ‘Marechal Mac Mahon’ (1867) — dark red with a purple tint.
Magnificent ‘Inspecteur Lavergne’ (1924) — brilliant, dark red with a touch of red wood. Strikes abundant and friendly flowering purple-cherry with silver tips bomb-shaped ‘Felix Crousse’ (1881).
French classic varieties have proven throughout the history of its existence a rare resilience. All of them are long-lived and have unsurpassed qualities: an amazing smell, a variety of color nuances, a perfect flower shape, abundant flowering.
These peonies are beautiful in cutting — a bouquet of them stands in a vase for a long time, filling the room with an incomparable aroma. To plant such varieties in your garden is a great success. They will long please not only you but also your great-grandchildren.
Fans of peonies strongly advise you to look at your old bushes: surely you can use the catalogues and the Internet to establish their varietal affiliation. Believe me, this is no rootless “mongrels”. For example, I was lucky enough to get them out from the garden of my childhood. So now I have real grandmother’s peonies growing in my garden, and it’s not a figure of speech. What was my happiness when I was able to determine their varieties! It was the ancient ‘Duchesse de Nemours’, ‘Madame de Verneville’, ‘Marechal Mac Mahon’.