Contributed by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Morris Arboretum Volunteer and Penn State Master Gardener

"Pink" Double-pink flower of herbaceous peony (Mrazik garden)

There's an upcoming “don't miss” event at the Morris Arboretum. “The King” will be holding court. Unfortunately, it's not a legends show honoring Elvis, the “King of Rock and Roll.” I’m so sorry to disappoint all of you diehard Elvis fans out there.  

I'm referring to the original “king,” who even today is very alive—and, it is a sight to behold!  You will want to see this king, the king of flowers, manifest as the peony flower (genus Paeonia). Sadly, its blooms lasts only four to six weeks; beginning in late April for  tree peonies and into May, and starting mid-May and into early June for herbaceous peonies.   

"rockii" Stunning purple flare in flower of woody peony 'Rockii' (Mrazik garden)

The history of peonies is suited for royalty. In Greek myth, Paeon, a physician of the gods on Mt. Olympus, was turned into a peony flower to save him from harm by his teacher, Aesculapius. Greek poetry praised peony as the queen of herbs. Centuries later in China, the tree peony was known as hua wang, the king of flowers.  

The peony flower’s special appeal is perfectly summed up by Henry Mitchell, an American writer, as “The fattest and most scrumptious of all flowers; a rare fusion of fluff and majesty...” Plus, they have a range of colors and some are fragrant. In my view, the peony’s pure floral beauty is unmatched.

Where are peonies at the Arboretum? Start in the Rose Garden, on its East side, and look for the stone wall (check your smartphone compass to find east). Peonies fill the entire bed above this stone wall. Here, the vast majority are herbaceous plants; there are also woody shrubs of the cherished Paeonia rockii. Also, check the rose and herb garden beds and downstream of the Log Cabin along cherry row.

So, the king of flowers is waiting to make you happy.