Peonies are a beautiful, prolific flowering shrub that casts a spell, throughout the summer, with their incredible fragrance.

Prized for their large, fragrant blooms and stellar foliage, peonies come in a wide range of colour, from white to yellow to coral, and from pink to purple to red, in a myriad of cultivars that will daunt any gardener.

In spite of their beauty, peonies are resilient, hardy perennials that will survive temperatures of -40.

There are a few chosen varieties that exceed beyond the rest in Yukon landscapes.

Hardy to Zone 2 Paeonia lactiflora, “Sara Bernhardt”, is a beautiful and exotic flowering peony. With its large double apple-blossom pink petals and exceptional fragrance, this variety produces abundant flowers amidst rich dark-green foliage.

Another favourite, paeonia officinalis, “Rubra Plena”, produces large, long-lasting double red flowers that are often used indoors as cut flowers. For an interesting Japanese-styled peony, look to the paeonia, the “Claire de lune” variety.

This single flowering variety bears early, delicate summer flowers in shades of creamy ivory to yellow.

Although peonies will tolerate a partial-sun location, they prefer to be planted in a full-sun area.

The ground should be well-prepared, prior to planting. The soil should be fertile, rich in humus, moist, with good drainage. Peonies prefer slightly alkaline pH.

Adding compost to your peonies will add greatly to establishing a strong root system. Peonies do not necessarily require propagation; however, this can and should be done early in the fall.

Look for a location in your garden that is less-exposed. Plant peonies close to a building or shelter for added protection.

The depth of planting is very important when transplanting peonies into your garden. Tubers that are planted too shallow or too deep will have difficultly flowering.

Tuber buds (eyes) should be planted two-and-one-half centimetres to five centimetres below the surface. Most peony bushes require the addition of support cages that should be put in place as soon as foliage begins to surface.

Peonies look great when combined with early-flowering plants. They can be under-planted below perennials and bulbs that finish flowering earlier in the season. As early perennials die back, peonies start to emerge past their spent foliage.

Consider trying a paeonia in your garden this summer. With their keen resilience to the colder temperatures, along with their incredible fragrance and exotic appeal in glorious colours and varieties, peonies are an excellent addition to any Yukon landscape.

Shari Morash is a gardening enthusiast and an accredited designer. Contact her at shari.morash@gmail.com.