Winterthur Part 2A: Late Spring 2013, Peonies

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and phone number (for back up use only) to  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

Winterthur peony .

Winterthur in Delaware is the outstanding Philadelphia (Pennsylvania, US) area garden that I am profiling this year. For links to previous gardens profiled and background on Winterthur itself, read my previous Winterthur post by clicking here.  In preparing for my second Winterthur post, I visited the garden at the end of May with fellow blogger Donna from the blog Garden Walk Garden Talk.  I took hundreds of photos during the visit and that was my downfall.  I find that the more photos I have of a potential blog subject, the less likely I am to do the post because the prospect of sorting them seems overwhelming.  For example, I never did a post on the gardens I saw during the 2012 Garden Bloggers Fling in Asheville, NC, although I haven’t given up hope.


Winterthur peonies.

I decided that there would be no hope of actually getting the next Winterthur post up on the blog unless I broke the photos into some smaller categories.  So today I am showing the images of the peony gardens, which were absolutely spectacular at the end of May.   Henry Francis du Pont (1880 to 1969), the man behind the Winterthur gardens, was a voracious collector of plants from all over the world.  His peony gardens are magnificent and justify a visit to Winterthur just to see them.  However, Winterthur is so wonderful and varied that a visit at any time of year is a pleasure.  In fact, for sheer garden beauty, I think Winterthur is my favorite Delaware Valley garden.


Winterthur peonytree peony garden


The Winterthur peony gardens contain both tree peonies and herbaceous peonies.  As I walked through them, I said to Donna I want that one, I want that one.  However, I was to be disappointed because most of the peonies in the collection were acquired as unnamed plants by Henry Francis du Pont.  There are accession numbers and source information but no names, and the plants aren’t available for sale today according to a Winterthur staff member who was also taking photos.  So you can enjoy these photos as images of gorgeous flowers but they won’t lead you to any specific plant purchases.  I hope that they will also inspire you to visit Winterthur in person.


Winterthur peony.

Winterthur peony.

Winterthur peony


Winterthur peonyThe lilacs behind the peonies were gorgeous.


Winterthur peony.

Winterthur peony.

Winterthur peony.

Winterthur peonyThis is the same peony as the one pictured at the very beginning of the post.  I think it was my favorite although it would be hard to pick one.


Winterthur peony


Winterthur peony.

I hope you enjoyed Part 2A of my year of Winterthur posts even though it is slightly out-of-season.  The next installment will be on the Quarry Garden filled with candelabra primroses among other treasures.



Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 6b. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

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27 Responses to “Winterthur Part 2A: Late Spring 2013, Peonies”

  1. I loved the Peony garden as much as you did, wanting each and every one of them. This part of the garden was spectacular with all the colors of Spring. The visit was perfectly planned, but I would bet anytime of year is equally as lovely. Your series is showing that. Thank you for linking.

  2. thanks for sharing your visit, we have a peonie farm near us and that is spectacular, I have posted about it in previous years but I do know what you mean about too much of a good thing where photos are concerned.

  3. So wonderful to be able to visit a garden through the seasons to see the parade of blooms. I visited Longwood Gardens a few years ago and did not realize how close we were to other wonderful gardens. Since I may never have an opportunity to visit that area again I will enjoy the photos you post here. I love peonies and have added several to my garden, some were starts from my mother-in-laws garden.

  4. Brian Salter Says:

    A mouth watering selection makes the few I grow look pretty insignificant, pity I am on the wrong side of the pond would love to see them, thanks for showing

  5. They are all very beautiful Carolyn. Do they tolerate shade? Or do they require full sun to flower like this?

  6. I love peonies and hope to add some new ones when I develop my front garden. Thanks for sharing these.

  7. Starr Foster Says:

    Hi Carolyn,
    Your peonies photos are lovely! I am looking forward to seeing your pictures of the Quarry Garden. I have a large patch of red primula japonica, inspired by the Winterthur quarry garden I saw over 30 years ago, before the QG was hit by an unusually bad storm which caused a lot of damage. After quite a few years, Charles Cresson was appointed to restore it.

    A little rivulet of water trickled down the cut stone wall onto the stone quarry floor, spreading out into a wide, shallow brook where many primroses grew, along with ferny clumps in the shady places and many other wet-loving plants. It was one of the most magical spots I had ever seen.

    So I look forward with pleasure to seeing your images of the new quarry garden.

  8. I visited Winterthur last year when the peonies were in full bloom. Unforgettable! I took one of my all-time favourite flower photos there — wish I could share it with you.

    The only problem about visiting Winterthur in the spring is having enough time to see everything. The garden is superb!

  9. Shame these lovely plants only have numbers – they deserve more than that!

  10. Carolyn what a refreshing journey back to spring to see all these gorgeous peonies. I needed it.

  11. How refreshing to read/see a post about Peonies at this time of year. Time to think ahead to fall planting, I guess. Do you recommend planting them in September? I really enjoyed your beautiful photos, as always–especially the shot of the Lilacs behind the Peonies.

    • PP, Fall is the best time to plant almost any plant because it can establish before winter but doesn’t have to go through a potentially hot and dry summer. However, all my peonies were planted successfully in spring. Peonies should only be moved in the fall. Carolyn

  12. Hi Carolyn, I am loving those Peonies at Winterthur. The singles are beginning to catch my attention these days.

  13. Hi Carolyn,
    I always enjoy visiting your site to see all the beautiful garden, plant and flower pictures!!! Peonies are one of my favorites, especially the double peonies.

    You might be interested in my handcrafted Garden Bluebird House Give-Away, free birdhouse! check it out.

    Bluebird House Give-Away

  14. i’m here regarding concern for donna of garden walk/talk.. she’s been totally silent since earlier in the year when she mentioned some health problems…

    i’m in ecuador and am not online often, but i sure miss her beautiful posts and her love for nature…


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