Peony News

We have some great peonies at the farm, ready to take home and transplant this spring. The weather is just becoming good 'gardening weather' here in the Willamette Valley after a wet early spring. It's nice to see we are into a drying trend now. 

We have a number of blush, pink, red, white, yellow and bi-colored peonies (some in containers; some available to order for fall).

Some of the spectacular red peonies available in containers include:

Chief Black Hawk (Itoh) Itoh peony Chief Black Hawk

Christmas Velvet  Christmas Velvet peony

Karl Rosenfield  

Little Red Gem (fern leaf) fern leaf peony Little Red Gem


Many Happy Returns red peony Many Happy Returns


And, the beautifully unique peonies: 

Lois' Choice  Lois' Choice peonies

P. delavayi lutea  P. delavayii peonies

White Innocence  peony White Innocence

Stop by and see what we have that will look great in your garden. Easy planting instructions provided. 

Brooks Gardens peony farm (and iris gardens) is located at 6219 Topaz Street NE, Brooks (or Salem), Oregon, 97305. We are just over one mile north of Brooks, OR (between Woodburn and Salem, off of 99 E) and 30 minutes south of Tualatin, Wilsonville and Canby, OR. About 40 minutes south of Portland, OR.

Directions to Brooks Gardens

Follow our purple Peonies & Iris signs in the area. Telephone: 503-393-7999.

Open daily from 10 am - 6 pm now through June 10, 2017. 

Well, we are still waiting for all of the early peonies to bloom; it won't be long. After two 80+ degree days and drizzles today, they will be popping open over the weekend. 

The species peonies, such as P. mlokosewitschii, obovata and villosa have been blooming for some time, as well as the fern leaf varieties. Honor, Athena, Campagna, Nosegay, Roy Pehrson's Best Yellow, Rosea Plena, Serenade, Silver Dawn Mix, Sugar 'n Spice and a few seedlings are blooming, too.

Making just the perfect peony bouquet yesterday, I was able to cut some loose buds of Abalone Pearl, Carina, Coral Sunset, Prairie Moon, Red Charm and a few more. I am just waiting for those Coral Sunsets next week. That Grandma in Arizona is going to love it when her grand kids step off the plane with it. 

Coral Sunset peony flower  Red Charm peony  

Stop by for a bouquet or potted peonies today - and spread the word that the peonies are arriving!  

While we open our farm for the season today, the iris gardens and peony field will be waiting another week to start dazzling us. With lots of sunshine predicted in the coming week, the bloom should be popping by next weekend. This week, I estimate that less than 5% are in bloom - and, that may be a stretch.  

We are running a few days behind a 'normal' bloom season this year. Last year we were nearly 3 weeks early. Usually our peak bloom is mid-late May; and, I expect that this season. Of course, weather rules and I will keep you posted on the bloom progress every few days. 

We do have the best selection of potted peonies early in the season; and they look great this year. 

Oregon Peony Fields & Iris Gardens

We open the farm for visitors April 29th through June 10th this year. Plan a visit to see the bloom, pick up a bouquet or buy peony plants to transplant this spring.

Every spring we anticipate and wait for the peonies to bloom – it’s what our world revolves around here on the peony farm (that, and dig season in the fall). And, it’s coming soon.

The early varieties are budded up, waiting to unfurl and dazzle; and, once we start getting a few sunny days, the peony procession begins.

While peonies are our specialty, we also maintain one of the Northwest’s largest historic bearded iris gardens, blooming at the same time as the peonies. You can walk the peony fields and stroll through the adjoining historic iris gardens, to get your fill of beautiful, fragrant flowers. The iris gardens are filled with over 1,000 varieties dating from the 1800’s through the late 20th century.

We started the peony farm in 2000 and now grow over 300 hundred varieties, including old fashioned and newer hybrid peonies. We offer over 100 varieties for sale in containers – ready to transplant this spring. We also offer additional varieties for fall planting in our online peony catalog; or, you may order here at the farm.

Peonies come in a range of colors, flower styles and plant habitats. Some people choose peonies based on the flower form; others zero in on the foliage; and, some are allured by fragrance. A great thing about peonies is that they are perennials – plant them once, and they bloom every spring. They can live in the same garden spot for decades without needing divided.

We’ll help you with selecting your style of peonies and give you planting tips for success on growing these easy-care plants.

Plan a visit this spring, and see what your favorites are. Bring your friends, share the good news – peony season is coming soon!

Hours are 10 am – 6 pm, daily April 29 - June 10, 2017.

Brooks Gardens, an Oregon peony farm located at 6219 Topaz Street NE, Brooks, Oregon, 97305.

Directions: I-5 exit 263, go 1 mile east to Brooks, OR; left (north) at light onto 99 E. We are just over one mile north of Brooks, OR (between Woodburn and Salem, off of 99 E).
We are about 30 minutes south of Tualatin, Wilsonville and Canby, OR. About 40 minutes south of Portland, OR. Follow our purple Peonies & Iris signs in the area.
Find us on Facebook; Instagram and Twitter @brooksgardens

The rage of peonies - Intersectional Itoh flowering garden plants.

They are peonies of perfection, with some of the finest qualities of all peonies: exotic flowers; pleasant fragrance; upright plant habitat, unique colors and winter hardiness.  

Canary Brilliants intersectional Itoh peony     Chief Black Hawk intersectional Itoh peony     Yellow Dream Itoh intersectional peony

Intersectional peonies are a hybrid cross between a bush and a tree peony, thus the name ‘intersectional’.  They are often referred to as Itoh peonies, after the first successful breeder of this type of peony, Mr. Toichi Itoh. His quest for creating an intersectional peony cross reportedly came to fruition in the late 1940’s, after years of dedication. Because of his success, many other hybridizers found hope and inspiration in creating additional intersectional peonies. Mr. Itoh left a living legacy to the world with these most spectacular, flowering garden plants. Sadly, he passed away before seeing their first blooms.  Fortunately, Louis Smirnow, a peony grower in New York contacted Mrs. Itoh and they arranged the transfer of the plants for future generations to enjoy.  Mr. Smirnow was able to introduce the first Itoh peonies (Yellow Crown, Yellow Dream, Yellow Emperor and Yellow Heaven) in the 1970’s, and the stampede for such magnificence began.

Incredible Peony Flowers 

While their large, showy flowers resemble those of the tree peony parent, the growth habitat is that of a bush peony. They come in single, semi-double and double flower forms, with petals silky smooth or delightfully ruffled. The color spectrum of selections ranges from solid tones to blends of multiple colors, many with contrasting ‘flares’ in the center. Clear, bright yellow; dark black-red; crisp white with lavender or purple flares; and, a kaleidoscope of colors are found in these peonies.

    Yellow Heaven intersectional Itoh peony     Lemon Dream intersectional Itoh yellow and lilac peony     Love Affair white intersectional Itoh peony

In early spring the primary ‘eyes’ (buds) on their root system sprout into new stems, each producing a flower. Many varieties also develop side buds, which produce additional, smaller blossoms on the same stem as the main flower. Prolific bloomers, they may produce 50 – 75+ blossoms on a single mature plant and tend to have a longer blooming period than most peonies. After blooming, most folk’s dead head; but, you can leave the spent flower to produce magnificent seed pods. They can be cut and dried to use in floral arrangements. You may even find a viable seed in one (although, that is elusive in intersectionals).

That Peony Foliage

The attractive foliage is serrated, like that of a tree peony. The leaves are shades of green or bronze, depending upon the variety. The plants display the flowers beautifully on stately, domed plants, making them excellent choices for landscaping. Once you see a few intersectional Itoh peonies, your eye will recognize the distinct foliage and flowers.

Oh, The Fragrance!

Let’s talk about fragrance. Itoh peonies have the most heavenly scented fragrances (I have only encountered one or two intersectional varieties that did not seem to have fragrance).  I think of their fragrances as ‘sweet’ or ‘perfumed’ – absolutely outstanding.  The flowers of ‘Bartzella’ and ‘Garden Treasure’ actually have a lemony fragrance.

Plant Habitat & Care

Gardeners love the upright plant habitat that never needs staking.  They keep looking beautiful through winds and rains. In 17 years of growing these peonies, I have never seen an intersectional Itoh peony plant go down under the weight of rain. Love that!

Like all herbaceous peonies, they can thrive in the same garden spot for years (even decades) without needing to be divided.  They come in many heights and widths, to fill small or large garden spots. On average they fill up a 3’ x 3’ space.

Care for an intersectional Itoh peony like any garden bush peony, including cutting stems to ground level each fall, as they go into dormancy for the winter. You’ll know when it’s time – they will start to lose their appeal and begin to look a bit ‘ratty’. It’s highly recommended to remove all peony stems and leaves from the garden each fall; rather than composting them. Sometimes people think their plant has died; but, it is just going dormant and is supposed to ‘die back’ each fall. 

If you forget to cut back the stems in the fall, they will naturally deteriorate and turn mushy. Try to clean up the foliage as soon as you can. While these cultivars are rather disease resistant, leaving old, mushy peony foliage in the garden can invite unwanted fungal guests.   

The underground roots are workhorses, growing quite large over the first 3 – 4 years. They store nutrients for stem and flower growth. Expect about 3 years to reach maturity from a newly planted root division or a transplant from a container.

Bare root peonies are planted in the fall and potted peonies may be transplanted spring or fall.  Intersectional Itoh peonies can thrive in USDA zones 2-8 (they do like a winter chill). In warmer winter zones (USDA zone 9) planting roots closer to the surface, with just a smidge of soil over the eyes (buds) ensures greater success.  While other herbaceous garden peonies only want one to two inches of soil over the eyes in USDA zones 2-8, the intersectional can take another inch of soil. Often, laying the root at an angle allows for easier planting, as the eyes tend to be more generous, on a longer root. As with other peonies, they love full sun; and will do fine in partial shade.

Peony plant growth is slow the first spring, as the roots develop. First year peonies may produce only a few stems – this is normal. While many flower the first year, it may take another year to get blossoms.  By the third spring, you should have a glorious plant.

Fertilizing peonies is a matter of personal choice and/or soil quality. Many gardeners fertilize annually in the spring, others never fertilize their peonies and have excellent results.  A 10-20-20 organic or synthetic bulb/flower fertilizer can be used in early spring. Be sure it is a slow release fertilizer if applied to potted plants, or it will burn the foliage. Follow recommendations from the label and apply near the drip line of the plant (a foot or so from center). 

Peony hybridizers continue to introduce new varieties of stunning intersectional plants every year. It seems as though the array of colors and hues never ceases to amaze peony lovers.

Itoh peony Kaleidoscope an intersectional peony Brooks Gardens Oregon  

Visit our peony fields this spring, take a look, smell the peonies…and, fall in love. We grow about 40 varieties of intersectional Itoh peonies - see them blooming from early May through early June. 

Therese Sprauer

'Peonies - 200 Garden Varieties' - an e-Book of Peony Flowers

I recently published an e-book of 200 peony varieties, showcasing the various flower forms and colors of these magnificent flowers. 

The book idea was formulated in my mind some years ago. Like a peony seed, it sprouted, continued to grow; and, finally, it bloomed. ‘Peonies – 200 Garden Varieties’ is now available through Amazon. 

I initially created a printed prototype and shared a few copies with colleagues and friends for input. Then I decided to test the waters with an e-book, as so many folks use phones, tablets and computers for all types of reading.

Creating a peony book for non-gardeners, as well as for peony growers and gardeners is the route I took. As I point out in the book, there is a wealth of information available on the internet, peony websites and in printed books on the history, propagation, growing & care, physiology and medicinal uses of peonies. While I offer some simplified information on peonies at the back of the book, this book is intended for sheer browsing pleasure.

It’s for people who love peonies, whether they grow them or not. It’s for peony farmers to be able to show their customer a photo of a peony. It’s for peony gardeners who want to compare flower forms and colors, perhaps finding a new favorite variety. It’s for people who live in apartments, don’t have a garden, can’t garden or live in a climate where peonies don’t thrive. It’s intended for all peony lovers.

While my goal is to also offer a printed version in the future, I am fascinated with the reading/browsing experience of the e-book. You can easily adjust the layout for your best viewing experience.

Don’t have an e-reader? You can download the free Amazon Kindle App to read/browse on a phone, tablet or computer. Adjusting the font size or page width allows for viewing 12 or more peonies at the same time – great for comparison. Very easy to figure out - Amazon Kindle offers simple instructions for reading e-books on a variety of devices. Look for their 'Read on Any Device' box under the book cover. 

Find 'Peonies - 200 Garden Varieties' at Amazon Kindle e-Books. 

You can also find us on Facebook, please feel free to share our posts with your friends (it can be a lot better for the blood pressure than political posts). Browse more photos of our peony farm on Pinterest

Hope you have a lovely day,


Our 2017 bare root peony catalog is now available online. While we ship peony roots in the Fall (beginning September 1st), you can start browsing now. Ordering early reserves your choice peonies. 

As always, we guarantee our roots. We want you to be successful in growing these beautiful flowers.  Click here for our 2017 peonies



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