Peonies are one of the best-known and most dearly loved perennials. This is hardly surprising considering their luxuriant blooms and foliage, sumptuous beauty, fragrance, trouble-free nature and longevity. The perennial garden at Lake Wilderness Arboretum is graced with a wide variety of these beloved plants. 

The peony is native to Asia, Europe and Western North America. Most are herbaceous perennial plants about 1-3 feet tall, but some are woody shrubs that can grow more than 10 feet tall. They have compound, deeply lobed leaves and large, often fragrant flowers, in colors ranging from purple red to white or yellow, in late spring and early summer.  

Many gardeners wonder why so many ants crawl on the peony buds. Don’t worry! They are just eating the peony’s nectar in exchange for attacking bud-eating pests. They are attracted to the sugary droplets on the outside of flower buds or to the honeydew produced by scale insects. Never spray the ants; they’re helping you by keeping your peonies safe! Luckily, peonies are also one of many deer-resistant plants you can grow in your garden.