As of today, especially with the mostly grey skies, one of my favorites for color is 'Joker', a hybrid by with some serious shade-shifting abilities. This hybrid starts out a vibrant, deep coral-pink from bud to the time it first opens. It remains in this stage for longer than you'd expect, but ... Wait for it, because this flower commands attention as soon as it fluffs itself up and into a bloom. From there it gradually (and that term is relative with 'Joker') shifts to a color that looks like each petal edge is made of blotter paper and absorbs the saturation of the original color.
|Peony 'Joker' in the fluffing-up stage.|
|Peony 'Judith Eileen'|
Another cultivar by Don Hollingsworth that is at its spectacular best is 'Judith Eileen', a pink double with a hint of purple and a light scent. This is its third year in the ground, and it was well worth the wait!
|Peony 'White Cap'|
Still in first position as the peony with the best fragrance (among the 3 dozen in my garden) is 'White Cap', a lactiflora that looks as good as it smells and vice versa. Who could resist a name like "Spiffy," especially if you were born before 1960? I'm still a fan of a Japanese lactiflora called 'Spiffy', hybridized by William Krekler and Roy G. Klehm. It has a fragrance, albeit light.