“Peony” authored by David Michener and Carol Adelman
This review was made possible by NetGalley, who provided a Digital Advanced Release Copy for review (DARC); my review of the material may not wholly reflect the final product upon its official publication.
My Mother-in-Law has a beautiful Peony bush, and I’ve been dying for a cutting from it for my own garden or a while now; in the last few years, Peonies have begun to challenge Roses as my favorite flowers. Of course, they haven’t won yet (Roses are, after all, one of the few things I can grow with any semblance of success), but I have developed an immense love of them- as you can probably tell by my blog.
When I saw this book on NetGalley, I jumped on the chance to learn about the flowers slowly taking over my heart at the moment… And let me tell you, this book really doesn’t disappoint; stunning photography, great page design, and easy to understand content really make this book what it is. From a beginner’s perspective, it has so much information packed into it that it’s almost hard to digest- even if some of it was a bit more simplistic than my liking in areas.
What I love most about it is that you really don’t have to digest it all in one go, because it effectively functions like a cross between an encyclopedia and a glossary; there’s useful information on the History of the flower (incredibly fascinating!), growing instructions, and a range of other basic information in the beginning of the book. Second to that is a guide to the terminology used throughout it- complete with pictures! And after that, the rest is taken up by short encyclopedia like entries on a wide variety of cultivars.
These entries include their own wealth of information. Some contain more than others, but generally you can expect an entry to include the following: A short description of the flower; the cultivator’s name; date and location of cultivation; The kind, color, form, fragrance, season, height, and whether or not it would benefit from a growing support; as well as additional notes, awards the cultivar has won, and whether or not hey make for good Cut Flowers.
Following all of that- once you get through it? Is an international listing of everything from Growers, to sellers of cut peonies, and even a list of Peony Gardens.
Yes, you heard me right.
An international directory of Gardens.
Dedicated entirely to Peonies.
Y’all know how much I love Rose Gardens at this point, so finding out that Gardens dedicated to Peonies exist is so incredibly exciting for me. What’s even more exciting, however, is finding out the sheer number of Peony varieties that exist as well; I never knew so many varieties existed, and truth be told? After reading this book, I feel like I’ve been cheated out of so many wonderful varieties over the years.
Some of my favorite varieties featured in the book include Bowl of Beauty, Iphigenia. Lovely Rose, Moonstone, Salmon Dream, Julia Rose, and Guardian of the Monastery; the majority of the Peonies I see in my own area are whites and light pinks, with the occasional hot pink. While they’re certainly pretty, they’re hardly the most gorgeous things out there. These, however, are quite possibly the prettiest I’ve seen- and I’d love to order some for my own garden some day. In fact, I’d be a liar if I said this book didn’t make me want to add a large scale Peony and Rose garden to the Homestead when we’re finally out there! With so many incredible varieties of both, it’s a very tempting idea.
If I had one complaint about it, it’s that the writing is a bit… Strange in areas; the flow and sentence structure is weird enough that I found myself constantly re-reading sequences and thinking about how much better something could have been phrased. So if I suggested anything, it would be one more go over for clarity. Still, this is definitely a gardening book that I’ll be returning to.