Saturday, February 29, 2020

2020 Peony Hybridizer Interview - Joshua Scholten

Joshua Scholten is a 5th generation farmer, and a 4th generation flower farmer from Holland. Their family farms originally grew vegetables, then later flowers (including tulips, irises, and peonies at times). Joshua, along with his father and brother, were the first ones to the focus the family business entirely on peonies in 2005. In 2012, Joshua and his brother established the name of the family company as Peony Shop Holland. If you haven't had the opportunity to purchase a peony from Peony Shop Holland yet, I'm sure you'll be rethinking that decision after you see the beautiful, mouth-watering peonies Joshua's been creating over in The Netherlands. :-)

Peony Hybridizer - Joshua Scholten

Here's Joshua's story on his family peony business:

"We've started the family peony business as 'Scholten-Keeman' together with the 4 of us, in the early years my father (Theo) and my mum (Tini) built up the peony farm from 1989, when Jeremy and I were old enough we joined the company. As that time we had Tulips, Irises and Peonies. In 2001 we were known as Peony Nursery Paionia ( but the firm name was officially 'Scholten-Keeman. When my mum in 2005 died we continued the firm with only the 3 of us but only with the focus on Peonies. In 2009 we changed the name of 'paionia' into Peony Shop under the officially name scholten-keeman. ( In 2011 my father Theo died and Jeremy and I took over the company. And then re-named the firm after 25 years of 'Scholten-Keeman' in 2012 into 'Peony Shop Holland' because that has a more international name for the Peonies."

"My older brother Jeremy Scholten (born 2-2-72) deserves some credit in the article as well, even though he's on the background. He's testing everything with the new seedlings and is responsible for the dividing of these seedlings. Together we're a great team!"

"Nothing better than a family company :)"

1. Did your early life give you an introduction to the world of plants and flowers?

"Yes, as a young kid I was always busy with flowers. We grew up with Tulips, Irises and Peonies."

2. What year did you start hybridizing?

"I think around 2001 for fun and more seriously in 2003."

3. What made you want to get into peony hybridizing?

"Just to create unusual colors and very early peony hybrids for cut-flower production."

4. Are you self trained, or have you taken classes or read books on hybridizing before you started?

"In the first years, I was inspired by Don Hollingsworth, and he helped me to understand the first baby steps. Later on I developed my own path."

How did Don Hollingsworth help you understand the baby steps?

"Helping to understand the process of germination."

5. How would you characterize your breeding program?

"Creating of very early peony hybrids for cut-flower production in all kinds of colors & types. (pastel, powder color, yellow, white, pink, lime-green, red)."

6. What kind of peonies do you specialize in?

"Mainly herbaceous hybrids for cut-flower production"

7. How has your "eye" for evaluating peonies changed over the years?

"Peonies really need to add something to the existing palette of colors, time of flowering, size of the flower, production, growth habit and the last year checking for fragrance."

8. When you look at a plant as an experienced hybridizer, what do you see?

"Color, size of the flower, flower bud size, production etc."

9. When you evaluate your seedlings, what are your major criteria?

"Color, flower season, doubleness, fragrance, production"

10. What are your aspirations for the future of peonies?

"Creating earlier double peonies to extend the season, and or unusual color combination, (blue peonies)"

What is the closest peony you have to "blue" so far?

"Nothing yet to be close to 'blue' - just this is a real challenge!"

11. What is your favorite named and registered cultivar so far (of your own) and why?

"'Maximus', because of the giant double blush/white flower. 'Maximus' is very early ready for cutting and has a lovely fragrance!"

Joshua Scholten's Peony 'Maximus'

12. Which of your peonies are your oldies but goodies?

"Red Charm as cut-flower producer, Lemon Chiffon for both cut-flower production & breeding purposes."

13. Which of your new and/or upcoming registrations are you most excited about?

"The new registrations to come. We will introduce many, many good varieties but 'Tini Keeman' (named to my mum) is one of the specials.""

Why did you name 'Tini Keeman' after your mother?

"'Tini Keeman' was named after my mother, as she was an inspiration for us all. She loved the old English tea roses so much. At her doorstep there was one English tea rose growing as well. 'Tini Keeman' peony was a surprise because of the rose-shape on opening and its beautiful color. My mum really loved the old English tea roses. So it was exactly her peony. (She died in 2005)."

Joshua Scholten's Peony 'Tini Keeman'

14. What is the story behind the first peony you ever registered?

"'Maximus' - as we love the rich Roman history, and the famous movie 'Gladiator' where Maximus is the 'Gladiator'."

Why did you choose to register this one first?

"'Maximus' was one of the first, as we registered a few at the same time. But for me 'Maximus' because of the very early double white, giant flower ready to be 'cutted' far before others in our cut-flower schedule."

Joshua Scholten's Peony 'Maximus'

15. What is the average length of time you evaluate a peony before you put it on the market?

"6-8 years"

16. How do you come up with the names for your peonies?

"95% Inspired by the Roman History"

17. Which of your peonies have proved to be the most popular with the public? Were any of these a surprise?

"'Maximus', 'Luna Fortuna', 'Valentine's Kiss' - they were all surprises! in color, flower types and time of flowering."

Why were they surprises?

"'Luna Fortuna' - early, lots of full double yellow flowers
'Maximus' - because of the very early giant white flower, never seen before such early double white flower
'Valentines Kiss' - the sometimes unique rose-shape of its flowers"

Joshua Scholten's Peony 'Luna Fortuna'

Joshua Scholten's Peony 'Valentine's Kiss'

Joshua Scholten's Peony 'Valentine's Kiss'

18. What excites you about other hybridizers programs?

"New colors and or time of flowering."

19. Has the pleasure you have taken from the world of peonies changed and evolved over the years?

"We're every day full with passion busy with our 'babies' and enjoy it as the very first day."

20. What would you like to say to newbies just getting into the world of hybridizing peonies?

"Have fun with the very first Peony to flower, as this feels like a 'new love' ;) everyone can do it, but you need a lot of patience!"

All Photos Courtesy of Joshua Scholten @ Peony Shop Holland

Thursday, February 27, 2020

2020 Intersectional Peony 'Scrumdidleyumptious' - Here We Go Again!!

Not-Intersectional Peony 'Scrumdidleyumptious'

So. I'm pretty sure the Intersectional Peony 'Scrumdidleyumptious' I ordered in 2018 Tulip World Offers Intersectional Peony 'Scrumdidleyumptious' for $12.95! was a fake. Like not-even-an-intersectional-peony-fake. What peony it is, I'm not sure. However I'm pretty sure it's an herbaceous peony just from the foliage I saw come up last year in 2019, and the preliminary foliage I've seen pop up this year so far in 2020. This photo is actually from 2019. I'll have to post another picture whenever this plant actually blooms, since now I'm just curious. However I couldn't help but notice that K. Van Bourgondien is offering this Intersectional Peony 'Scrumdidleyumptious' this year (for a bit higher - but still reasonable price $35). Their web site says they ship this item in the spring. So I'll keep you posted on what this looks like when it arrives and what the foliage looks like if/(hopefully) when the foliage sprouts for me this spring.

Intersectional Peony 'Scrumdiddlyumptious'
at K. van Bourgondien

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

2020 Song Sparrow Offers 10% Off All Intersectional (Itoh) Peonies

Song Sparrow Offer 10% Off All Itoh Peonies

I just got an email yesterday saying that Song Sparrow is offering 10% off of all Itoh Peonies. In case you hadn't heard, this is pretty cool. I'm not sure if I've seen them offer a discount in the spring on their intersectional peonies. I know they offered a larger discount on intersectional peonies in the fall of 2018, 2018 Song Sparrow 25% Off All Itoh Peonies, but I don't think I've seen a spring discount before. The really nice thing about a spring discount is Song Sparrow sells their intersectional peonies as potted plants. So you have a chance of actually getting a bloom from your plant this year (in just a few short months)! Also according to the changes recorded on our 2020 Intersectional Peony Catalog Price Comparison List, Song Sparrow actually lowered their prices on most of their intersectional peonies this year. So now you get an extra discount on top of their already lowered prices, and a potted, growing plant to boot! If you're interested in taking advantage of this sale, you better hurry! The last day to get the 10% discount is March 2, 2020!

Sunday, February 23, 2020

2020 Intersectional Peony 'Duchesse de Lorraine' at Spring Hill Nursery

I'm not sure if this is real or not, but since I had a bit of luck with the intersectional peonies I ordered from Spring Hill last year, 2018 Strawberry Crème Brûlée Intersectional Peony at Spring Hill Nursery, I decided to give it a try. This Intersectional Peony 'Duchesse de Lorraine' is obviously not registered with the American Peony Society. However that doesn't mean it couldn't be real. I am eager to see whether it is. I haven't seen an intersectional peony like this, except for Intersectional Peony 'Sonoma YeDo', 2017 Intersectional Peony 'Sonoma YeDo' Blooms!, which was a kind gift from a Southern gardening friend, 2017 First Intersectional Peony Gift from a Friend, and Intersectional Peony 'Sonoma Halo' - which I do not currently grow (still a bit too pricey for me - $200 is the lowest price for it on this year's Southern Peony 2020 Intersectional Peony Catalog Price Comparison List).

Intersectional Peony 'Duchesse de Lorraine'
@ Spring Hill Nursery

Plus I found a coupon on one of my favorite coupon sites (Retail Me Not) for "BOGO FOR 1¢", and it worked on this Intersectional Peony 'Duchesse de Lorraine'. So I decided to give it a try. You still need to pay shipping & tax, so it came out to about $79 for 2 for me. It isn't super cheap, but it's much cheaper than their original price, $59 each (and cheaper than $200 for one!). The coupon code is 0474301, and it says it is good until March 25, 2020. So you still have a bit of time to use the coupon, but I'm not sure how long it will take for these peonies to sell out.

Intersectional Peony 'Duchesse de Lorraine'
@ Spring Hill Nursery

If you don't feel comfortable "taking a chance", I would recommend passing on this. You can just wait a few years for me to see if I actually got what they said I did. :-) In my last intersectional peony order I placed with them, 2019 Spring Hill Nursery Peony Order Arrives, the plants were all healthy, well packed, growing foliage already, and they definitely had intersectional peony foliage. So that's why I decided to take a chance on these. They are also selling Intersectional Peony 'Oochigeas' (which I picked up from them last year) and Intersectional Peony 'Magical Mystery Tour' (which I already grow), in case you're interested.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

2020 Southern Peony RHS Color Matching

Peony Color Matching Tree Peony 'Lavender Hill'

I was able to capture some new peony colors this past bloom season. You can find the results of these new color codings on our Southern Peony Colors page. It takes good timing, a good "to do list", a good memory, and a handy RHS Color Chart to make this happen. It is really easy to miss the bloom on a particular plant on just the right day. Luckily, I was able to capture 13 new color codings last spring for my Southern Peony Color chart. We now have 226 peonies color coded!!! Wow! If you are looking to design with color, whether it be for your garden or for a bouquet, I hope you find our peony color chart useful! Enjoy!!

Peony Color Matching Tree Peony 'KC Red'

Peony Color Matching Intersectional Peony 'Singing in the Rain'

The new peony color codings completed in 2019 and just added to our Southern Peony Color Chart are:

Autumn Harvest - 4A Yellow
Canary Brilliants - 8C Light Yellow
Coral Sunset - 48C Red Pink
Faithful Dream - 38B Light Red Pink
First Arrival - N74C
Krekler's Red - 58A Purple
Magical Mystery Tour - 38B Light Red Pink
Nippon Beauty - 58A Purple
Skylark - 58B Purple Red
Sonoma Apricot - 8C Light Yellow
Sonoma Blessing - 38D Light Red Pink
Tropicana - 52A Dark Pink Red
Zuzu - N155B White

Peony Color Matching Tree Peony 'Shimadaijin'

Peony Color Matching Tree Peony 'Lavender Grace'

Friday, February 21, 2020

2020 First Snow of the Season @ Southern Peony

Southern Peony Snow on Tree Peonies

I was starting to think we might be able to skate by with no snow this winter - especially since it has been so warm this season. However Mother Nature had another plan, and the snow finally found us last night. The kids are all enjoying a day out of school - to play outside for a bit and then come inside to warm up! The tree peonies are not quite as lucky as the children and don't have the option to "come inside to warm up". However these tree peonies are quite hardy and while they are bent over and sad looking today, they will shortly shrug off this cold winter weather and bounce back to blooming in just a few short weeks!

Southern Peony Snow on Tree Peony

Friday, February 14, 2020

2020 Intersectional Peony Buds for ♥ Valentine's Day ♥

It's not quite peony season yet, but now seems like just as good a time as ever to pine for these lovely blossoms! What more could you ask for then a bunch of intersectional peonies in bud, ready to blossom inside a vase in your home on Valentine's Day? Wouldn't that be lovely? One can dream... Luckily for us peony season really is right around the corner. If you're thinking of buy some of those cut flowers sold in stores, maybe consider buying a new peony root or two instead. You'll get way more flowers out of it!! ;-) Here's wishing you a lovely and beautiful Valentine's Day!

Intersectional Peony 'Smith Family Yellow' Bud

Intersectional Peony 'Little Darlin'' Bud

Intersectional Peony 'Canary Brilliants' Bud

Intersectional Peony 'Cora Louise' Bud

Intersectional Peony 'Old Rose Dandy' Bud

Intersectional Peony 'Garden Treasure' Bud

Intersectional Peony 'Sugar Plum Fairy' Bud

Intersectional Peony 'Sonoma YeDo' Bud

Monday, February 10, 2020

2020 It's Time for Tree Peonies!

Can you believe it? They are bursting already!!! I know winter is not done with us yet, but these tree peonies don't care one bit! Their buds are much hardier than herbaceous peony buds since they stay above ground all winter on the stem (although they can still get damaged, but not as often), while more tender herbaceous peony buds hide out at/under the soil during the winter to keep them safe! Thank goodness for tree peonies! I guess that's why we get to enjoy them much sooner in the spring as well since they get a head start on growing. Tree Peonies typically blooms a few weeks earlier than herbaceous peonies. So if you are looking for a great way to extend your peony bloom season - try adding some tree peonies. Once they get established - you won't regret it!

Tree Peony P. ostii

Tree Peony 'Lavender Grace'

Tree Peony 'Fuchsia Ruffles'

Tree Peony 'White Phoenix'

Friday, February 7, 2020

2020 Tree Peony 'Imperial Crown' at Song Sparrow

Tree Peony 'Imperial Crown' at Song Sparrow

Every year I keep hearing that this is going to be the last year of operation at Song Sparrow, but somehow they just keep on going. I have been wanting this Tree Peony 'Imperial Crown' for a few years now. I always hesitate to purchase things because I need to wait until the next month to buy it (for budget reasons), and then by the time the next month rolls around, it is sold out. I'm starting to worry that if I don't order it now, I may lose the opportunity. If anyone knows me, they know how much I love purple, and the purple color on this Tree Peony 'Imperial Crown' is just eye-popping! I hope it's that gorgeous in person. Also if I order it now, I *might* get to see it bloom this spring! That's the nice thing about the tree peonies (and intersectional peonies) at Song Sparrow. They sell them as potted plants that they ship spring through fall! My order is in! I can't wait to get it!