Peony heaven is a real place. It is Cricket Hill Garden, in Thomaston, Connecticut. It's a nursery and show garden dedicated to every kind of herbaceous, intersectional and tree peony you could want.
Since it was late May, the herbaceous peonies were blooming, but the intersectionals and the later tree peonies weren't out yet. The herbaceous peonies need umbrellas to keep their heavy blooms out of damaging rain, but we have had so little rain in Connecticut this spring that they really weren't necessary. But they were decorative.
An entire wooded hillside, an area around a pond, and a stretch of stepped terraces had hundreds of peonies growing. There were paths to wander that let you get up close to see each special peony.
Milkweed and clover and dandelions and weeds of every kind were allowed to complement the peonies and I was surprised at how well that worked, growing so closely together. There were alliums and roses and viburnums too. Everything looked naturalized, but of course it was all highly tended.
Scattered among the peonies were glass sculptures by Mundy Hepburn, a nephew of the actress Katherine Hepburn. He makes these Chihuly-type big garden glass shapes, and they are filled with inert gas (like neon) so they must glow at night, although we were only there in the daytime.
Big multi-petal peony bombs in pinks and magentas stole the show. And there were quite a few fried egg peonies -- the clear white ones with egg yolk centers. But my favorites were the demure single blooms in creamy soft colors. Like this delicate yellow single petal variety.
At Cricket Hill I picked up another, this time an intersectional called 'Bartzella' that is a lovely upright shape, and has yellow double and semi double blooms that flower in June. It's a popular variety and quite showy.
The staff at Cricket Hill were friendly and informative and I had a long chat with a woman who clearly loves these beautiful plants and thinks she works in a place close to heaven.
Here is what she told me to do with my new 'Bartzella" -- I must not disturb it right now. I am to put the whole pot in the ground now, enjoy it this summer, and then when the leaves turn brown in fall, and only then, I can take it out of the ground, unpot it and plant it in its permanent spot. Peonies don't like disturbance unless they are going dormant for winter.
It won't flower this year, and maybe not next year, but she spent so much time picking out just the right container with the best looking stems and the most promise, that I felt I was adopting a pet and not buying a plant. Her care and concern was touching.
I think I am supposed to send her postcards every year showing its progress as it grows up.
Cricket Hill Garden