Garden Photo of the Day

Peony Extravaganza!

An open garden to celebrate the season

Joe Koller sent in today’s photos of peonies.

These photos were taken on May 27 at Alan Summers’ gardens in Zone 7 in northern Maryland. He opened his gardens to the public for the first time that week. Alan formerly owned Carroll Gardens and was frequently mentioned in early issues of Fine Gardening as a source for unusual plants. Alan has given me permission to submit these photos and to name him as the source. He currently has a Saturday morning radio show where he handles gardening questions from all over the country for one hour. I hope you enjoy these photos, and good luck to all!

A lovely bearded iris (Iris germanica, Zones 4–9) glows against a backdrop of rich greens. Read more about irises here.


What is better than a peony (Paeonia lactiflora, Zones 3–8)? Why, a giant row of hundreds of them! Peonies are a good choice for massing like this because they give such an over-the-top show when they flower, and they are notably long-lived, easy-to-care-for plants. All they really ask is sun and some sort of support to keep their heavy flowers from drooping.


Another view of the massive planting of peonies. Though peonies are only in bloom for a short while, rows of daylilies in front of them stand ready to carry on the show.


Closeup of a lovely white peony, just flushed with a bit of pink at its heart. Watch this video on how to protect peonies.


More peonies. It is no wonder Alan opened his garden the week that he did; with all the peonies in bloom, it could hardly be more beautiful.


Wide grassy paths and specimen trees make a beautiful structure for the flowers to strut their stuff.


Rows of carefully labeled trial beds of irises. The American Iris Society visited this trial garden with 2,000 iris plants, many of them rare varieties that are no longer commercially available.


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  1. User avater
    pattyeckels 06/04/2018

    Oh I can smell the peonies! We cannot grow them in the south. I miss them. Sigh......

  2. User avater
    meander_michaele 06/04/2018

    Had to be such a treat, Joe, for you to get to tour Alan Summers' garden. I believe I remember you sharing that he was the designer of your own personal garden and has continued to advise you on plant selections. It's pretty impressive to see a mature, long established curving row of peonies and, as pattyeckels observed, the fragrance must have been heavenly.

  3. user-7017435 06/04/2018

    Good morning Michaele, You are right, Alan designed the front yard gardens & helped with my wife's memorial garden both of which were featured on GPOD 3 yrs. ago. His gardens are 5 acres of the most amazing collections of peony, day lilies, 10,000 plus dafs etc. He hopes to open his gardens next spring & if he does I will send photos to GPOD. Good luck, Joe

  4. JoannaAtGinghamGardens 06/04/2018

    Wow, Joe, what a treat. A total eye candy feast and the fragrance must have been amazing! Thanks so much for sharing.

  5. [email protected] 06/04/2018

    Beautiful! I didn't care much for peonies in the past- thought they sounded too touchy, but we inherited one on our new property. It had been hidden by some overgrown nuisance plants, and now we are anxious to see what we have! I'm a little fearful of another addictive family of plants...Thanks!

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