Garden Photo of the Day

Tree Peonies and Other Beauties

Spring in a Connecticut garden

Today we’re visiting with Elle Ronis in her Stamford, Connecticut, garden. We’ve visited this incredible garden before (Flowers Big and Small), and it is always a pleasure to see the beauties Elle has growing.

Troughs full of tiny rock-garden plants in bloom contrast with the enormous flowers of tree peonies all around them.

rainbow Japanese mapleThe reddish leaves of ‘Rainbow’ Japanese maple (Acer palmatum ‘Rainbow’, Zones 5–9) echo the rich red color of a tree peony. Tree peonies are a group of species and hybrids in the genus Paeonia that, instead of dying back to the ground each winter, grow permanent woody stems to form small shrubs. They are hardy to Zones 4–7, sometimes surviving in Zone 8 or even Zone 9.

Tree peoniesTree peonies have huge, dramatic blooms like nothing else in the garden. Elle grows 50 tree peonies in her garden.

Itoh hybrid peonyItoh peonies are hybrids between tree peonies and herbaceous peonies. They are named for Toichi Itoh, a Japanese plant breeder who created the first hybrids of this kind, which are some of the most vigorous peonies you can grow.

WeigelaIn this flurry of baby pink flowers on a weigela (Weigela florida, Zones 4–8), the pale pink flowers contrast beautifully with the dark stems. New selections of weigela make short, compact shrubs, but it is hard to beat the beauty of a huge, old weigela in full bloom if you have space for it.

Clematis montanaThe pink of the weigela echoes in a pink Clematis montana (Zones 5–11) trained up along the roofline.

small perennials and shrubsMore trough containers, home to small perennials and shrubs.

Acer palmatum Toyama NishikiAcer palmatum ‘Toyama Nishiki’ is a lovely variegated Japanese maple. Nishiki means “patterned, brocade cloth” in Japanese and is often used in the cultivar names of variegated plants.

Acer psuedoplatanus Esk SunsetAcer pseudoplatanus ‘Esk Sunset’ (Zones 4–7) has dramatic variegated foliage, but be sure to cut out any all-green branches if they develop, as they will quickly take over from the variegated leaves.

Rose Violet’s Pride‘Violet’s Pride’ rose


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View Comments


  1. Rebeccazone7 11/24/2020

    I'm in awe of the Clematis growing on the house. I also love the troughs. It's a great contrast. So far I've added a zillion things to next years garden, and now it's also a tree peony...and variegated Japanese Maple. These pictures ease the thought of the long winter ahead.

  2. sohappygardening 11/24/2020

    Such beautiful flowers!

  3. fromvirginia 11/24/2020

    Lovely! Everything looks so lush and healthy. Do you have an irrigation system for the troughs or do you have water in the summer?

  4. User avater
    simplesue 11/24/2020

    I love the old fashioned look of the house with the spring blooming plants- so classic, so picturesque!
    Of course the entire garden is gorgeous!

  5. shegardens 11/24/2020

    What, I’m wondering, is the clematis on the house clinging to?

  6. btucker9675 11/24/2020

    Oh my... so beautiful! I haven't tried a peony here in southern NC because of the heat in the summer. Maybe I'll try one this season in the filtered light of our wooded area. The photo of the clematis and weigela is so lovely.

  7. Musette1 11/24/2020

    I was first introduced to the beauty of tree peonies about 30 yrs ago, in a neighbor's garden. She had one - ONE - and I stood there, admiring, for simply ever.

    Glad it wasn't your garden, Elle. I'd probably still be standing there, agape, at the beauty! LOL!

  8. carolineyoungwilliams 11/24/2020

    Elle, I absolutely adore your garden. It is gorgeous. I am in awe of your Peonies. Peonies are one of my favorite flowers and you have really out done yourself. Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful work of art. Be blessed.

  9. Cenepk10 11/24/2020

    Oh good heavens... that montana clematis on the roofline is making me tremble with delight. Talking my plant love language. Thanks for sharing such a unique garden & fabulous collection of peonies. I think that pulled me out of my 3 pm funk !

  10. Cenepk10 11/24/2020

    And !!!!! The variegated JapMap ... killing it for me... ❤️

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