Paeonia lactiflora ‘Whitleyi Major’
This is the classiest peony I know. It has grace and stature. It makes me realise why the cognoscenti are so scathing about double peonies, which could never measure up to this. Like any other peony, its effective period is short – maybe three weeks, but this is more than compensated by the effect, including the foliage. Some peonies are sweetly scented and some smell like rotting cabbage fields. This smacks of the latter. Well, I suppose even a monarch might have bad breath.
ORIGINS China – it’s thought to be one of the earliest cultivars of P. lactiflora.
CONDITIONS Grow in an open border, in moist but well-drained, humus-rich soil.
SEASON June and July.
To see eight more plants looking stunning this month, chosen by Bob Brown, buy the June issue of GARDENS ILLUSTRATED (Issue 162).
Bob Brown owns Cotswold Garden Flowers, a mecca for plant lovers, which stocks a huge range of rare and beautiful plants.
Photograph by Torie Chugg