There is big news in the Peony World, it's called an 'Itoh', or in our world, an ('inter-sectional hybrid' peony). They are a cross between the traditional herbaceous varieties and tree peonies.
We prairie gardeners are not familiar with Tree Peonies (Paeonia suffruticosa). They are not really hardy here and even require protection from our late spring frosts. Tree peonies are an old plant, and have been grown in China for hundreds of years. They traditionally are woody shrubs that can reach heights of three metres, and sport big flowers.
Height: 90cm (36")
Spread: 90cm (36")
Habit: Upright and Mounding
Exposure: Full Sun
Toichi Itoh, spent his life trying to take the best elements of each parent peony to create a Queen of Peonies. Unfortunately, he past away in 1956, eight years before the crosses he developed produced their first blooms. These new hybrid peonies that he created are amazing. They are finally becoming available in our market place.
The Itoh peonies bloom in late spring for about two to three weeks and unlike our traditional peonies, they do not require staking. Even though their flowers are abundant and huge, (up to 25 cm in diameter), the branch structure is strong enough to support their weight. So Toichi Itoh created a neat flowering shrub, that we trim to the ground each fall.
My favorites are: Bartzella (above), and Raggedy Ann (below)
The new hybrids grow in a domed shape like the tree peony but usually remain just under one metre, making them a show-stopper in your front yard garden. Also, the grey-green foliage is finely cut, it is very disease-resistant,
--- and lasts until fall.