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

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