Products/ Books On Peonies

Peony Propagation

This DVD combines the two formerly available VHS tapes into one comprehensive disc on peony propagation. There are three parts which are selectable by a menu. All feature John Simkins (founder of the Canadian Peony Society) explaining and demonstrating techniques learned over a long association with the peony. There is a certain down to earth flavour to these demonstrations that puts the viewer at ease and convinces them that they can do it too. Total run time about 72 minutes. Produced by the Canadian Peony Society.

1. Grafting Tree Peonies
A down to earth presentation which we think de-mystifies the grafting process. Subjects covered include; selecting roots and scions, sterilizing, making the cuts using a machine and by hand, materials and tools needed, preparation of the planting bed, care of grafts and planting bed through the winter.

2. Growing From Seed
There are many ways to grow peonies from seeds, but most that are reliably successful take into account the sequential warm and cold stratification needed to overcome dormancy. Here's how John does it.

3. Root Division
Dividing a peony can be a daunting proposition for most people who have never done it before. The process has been described in many books (sometimes well, sometimes not so well), but there's nothing like a visual demonstration to get you started.

Cost: Members - $10 (shipping to Canada or USA included)
Non-members - $11 (shipping to Canada or USA included)
For orders outside of North America, extra shipping charges may apply

CD with photos of peonies grown by our members -  coming soon!!

Send orders to:  The Canadian Peony Society
                           PO Box 28027
                           RPO Parkdale
                           468 Albert Street
                          Waterloo, ON N2L 6J8

Payment: Cheque ONLY
Orders within Canada are to be paid in Canadian dollars by cheque payable to the Canadian Peony Society.
Orders within US addresses are to be paid in US dollars by cheque payable to the Canadian Peony Society.

For non-Canadian or US orders, please enquire as to shipping costs and payment method at the above address or to

Instructions de commande

Envoyer vos commandes à:
Société canadienne de la pivoine
PO Box 28027
RPO Parkdale
468 Albert Street
Waterloo,ON N2L 6J8


Les commandes adressées au Canada doivent être payées en dollars canadiens par un chèque fait à l’ordre de la Canadian Peony Society.

Les commandes adressées aux Etats-Unis doivent être payées en dollars américains par un chèque fait à l’ordre de la Canadian Peony Society.

Pour les commandes non canadiennes ou américaines s’informer sur le coût d’expédition et la méthode de paiement à l’adresse ci haut ou à

Books on Peonies

  • Peonies of the World, Taxonomy and Phytogeography by Hong De-Yuan, Kew Books, ISBN: 9781842463925, 2010
  • Les Pivoines, by Rock Giguère, Editions de l'Homme, ISBN - 13:9782761922241, 2006    FRENCH ONLY 
  • Peony Rockii and Gansu Mudan ,by Will McLewin and Dezhong Chen, 2006
  • Peonies, by Pamela McGeorge, 2006   Not recommended see below for reasons
  • The Gardener's Peony, by Martin Page, Timber Press, ISBN 0-88192-694-9, 2005
  • The Genus Paeonia, by Joseph Halda with James W. Waddick, ISBN 0-88192-612-4 , March 2004
  • The Book of Mediterranean Peonies, by Gian Lupo Osti, Umberto Allemandi & C., ISBN 88-422-1436-1, 2004
  • Growing shrubs and small trees in cold climates, by Nancy Rose, Don Selinger and John Whitman, ISBN 0-8092-2491-7, 2001
  • Peonies, by Allan Rogers, ISBN 0-88192-317-6, 2000
  • The Book of Tree peonies, by Gian Lupo Osti, Édition Umberto Allemandi & C. , 1999
  • Peonies the Imperial flower, by Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall, ISBN 0 297 82424 4, 1999
  • Chinese Tree peony, par ¨The peony Association of China¨, ISBN 7-5038-2019-5, 1998
  • The peony, by Alice Harding, updated by Roy G. Klehm, ISBN0-88192-274-9, reprinted 1998.
  • The Gardener’s Guide to Growing Peonies, by Martin Page, ISBN 0-88192-408-3, 1997
  • Peonies, By Allen Rogers, 1995
  • Alice Harding The Peony, Introduced and Updated by Roy G Klehm, 1993
  • The Moutan or Tree Peony, By Haworth-Booth, The Garden City Pree Ltd, Great Britain, 1963
  • The Paeony, By Roy Genders, Butler and Tanner Ltd, Great Britain, 1961
  • Peonies Outdoors and In, By Arno & Irene Nehrling, ISBN:   , 1960
  • Garden Paeonies by James Kelway, Billings and Sons Ltd for Eyre & Spottiswoode Ltd,     Great Britain,   1954
  • Peonies in the Little Garden by Mrs. Edward Harding, 1923
  • The Book of the Peony, Alice Harding,1917
Publications available through the American Peony Society
Perhaps the most comprehensive reference on peony breeding available. Over 100 pages devoted to the study and practice of breeding for new ornamental qualities in peony cultivars. Practical procedures in breeding, overcoming infertility in plants of interspecies hybrid origin, inherent ornamental characters such as flower doubling, examples of recent achievements, a question and answers section and an extensive bibliography of references. Hardcover, color illustrations, 208 pgs.

Color illustrated history of tree peony breeding in North America, emphasizing the work of Saunders, Gratwick, Domoto, Daphnis and others. Culture and propagation. Softcover, 40 pgs.

THE BEST OF 75 YEARS; 1904-1979
Collection of articles from APS publications, including basic history and extensive coverage of peony plants and breeding. An entire section on the informative writings of Arthur Percy Saunders, pioneer of modern technical approaches to peony breeding, worth the price for this alone. Softcover, 232 pgs.

Original publication under auspices of the American Horticultural Society, reprinted by APS. Edited by John C. Wister, considered the dean of American ornamentals horticulturists, long time horticulturist for Swarthmore College's Scott Arboretum and who was also instrumental in formation of the American Daffodil Society and American Iris Society. A treasury of peony information and worthy of being on the shelves of all peony enthusiasts. Hardcover, 225 pgs, second printing.

In 3 parts: Variety Checklist, Registered Peonies and Introductions. 5,000 entries. Kessenich and APS Nomenclature Committee. Spiral bound, 161 pgs.

PEONIES 1976-1986
10-year update, registered peonies and tree peonies. Kessenich and APS Nomenclature Committee. Softcover, 106 pgs.

PEONIES 1986-1996
10-year update, registered peonies and tree peonies. Kessenich and APS Nomenclature Committee. Softcover, 131 pgs.


Herbaceous and tree peony culture. Peony types, propagation, successful root dividing and grafting, proper planting, how to fertilize, disease control and growing exhibition blooms. Softcover, 100 pgs, Eighth Edition. Click here to view the Handbook of the Peony table of contents.

PEONIES- THE MANUAL OF THE AMERICAN PEONY SOCIETY- By James Boyd - Out of print, hard to find, but worth a look.  1928

Books Not Recommended by CPS
Peonies, by Pamela McGeorge, Firefly Books, ISBN-13: 978-1-55407-168-5, 2006
8 x 10 inches, soft cover  144 pages, 197 colour photos.

The hallmark of a good garden writer is the ability to take researched material, glean from it the desired information, add extensive personal experience, and meld it all into a seamlessly flowing manuscript that inspires in the reader the comfortable feeling that the author thoroughly knows their subject matter. In reading this book, I never came close to that feeling, but on the contrary, began very quickly to suspect the opposite. The content left me with the sense that I had seen it all before, but without the errors and fanciful reconstructions of certain events. In reviewing the book, I tagged over 50 items that should and would have been clarified or corrected had this book been subjected to expert review prior to being published. A few examples are described in the following paragraphs.

On page 19, the flower forms discussion is similar to one that was published in November 2002 in the Canadian Peony Society Newsletter. In McGeorge’s version the text no longer contains the precision found in the original text, and descriptions of the Japanese (pgs. 49-50) and Anemone forms are no longer definitive or accurate, and therefore likely to cause confusion. The diagnostic feature of Japanese peonies are staminodes, these being partially transformed stamens. In the Anemone form the transformation has progressed to the point where what were embryologically the stamens, are now petalodes, these ranging from very narrow petals in things like ‘Fancy Nancy’, to wider petals, though still significantly smaller than the guard petals, as seen in ‘White Cap’ and ‘Gay Paree’. McGeorge has used both terms in the description of both forms, so where’s the difference? She has, however, retained the peonies used as examples in the original article to illustrate the different forms, but does not adhere to them later in the book.

In a history of the introduction of Chinese herbaceous peonies into western horticulture (page 52), McGeorge equates ‘Whitleyi’ (Whitley, 1808), a white double peony, with ‘Whitleyi Major’ (origin unknown), which is a white single.

On page 60 we are led to the conclusion that Allan Rogers purchased a significant number of Saunders’ peonies when that nursery was brought to a close, and that a number of 50 year old tree peonies were moved from there with a front end loader. The author has combined two separate events into a totally different one, which while it makes a good story, it is not true. The Saunders peonies actually came to Rogers by way of the Goldsmiths, and the front end loader was used in Laurel, Oregon for a totally different acquisition.

‘First Arrival’ (Anderson, 1986) is twice described as a tree peony. In fact, it was the first of Roger Anderson’s intersectional hybrids to bloom and is therefore not a tree peony at all.

There are more errors on page 110. Toichi Ito’s cross between ‘Alice Harding’ (Lemoine, 1936 ) and ‘Kakoden’ produced only 7 hybrid seedlings, not 27, and Smirnow reported they were “almost tree peony in appearance”, not at all looking like the herbaceous parent (as McGeorge contends). It was the plant habit that was herbaceous.

Arthur Percy Saunders was the most influential peony breeder of the 20th Century. In the many articles he wrote for the American Peony Society Bulletin, his by line was always “A. P. Saunders”. When people wrote about him or mentioned him in an article he was either Professor Saunders, or Professor A. P. Saunders. Family and friends called him “Percy”. Nobody ever publicly called him “Arthur” and we should continue to respect that.

There are also errors of omission, things that aren’t in the book but should have been to bring better clarity and understanding to the subject. A good definition of hybrid versus lactiflora in the herbaceous peonies is lacking, as are indicators of which peonies mentioned belong to which group. Cultivar names are made more precise with the inclusion of the originator’s name and date of introduction, but these are included in only a few cases. There is no mention of Donald R. Smith and the advances he has made with the intersectional hybrids. The discussion on pests and diseases makes no mention of root knot nematodes, Lemoine’s disease, or swift moth larvae.

These errors and omissions may seem small and insignificant to some, but to me they are of the type that a serious student of the peony would never have made. This, and the fact that there are so many of them, destroys the credibility of the book as a whole.

I never buy a gardening book solely for the pictures. For those that do, there are 196 different photographs. Roughly 88 are located in the 2¼ inch (5.5 cm.) margins of the book. While there are some very nice photos, they seem to serve more as decoration instead of to illustrate the text. There is a nice photo of ‘James William’ but no mention in the text that it is an introduction of Dot and John McFarlane of New Zealand.

When I first heard of this book, and that it was authored by a writer from New Zealand, I had hopes that we would be given a glimpse into peony culture in that country and in neighbouring Australia. Instead, they are virtually ignored and we have another general peony book aimed at the North American market when there are already several that are obviously so very much better. There is room in the peony literature for a small, reasonably priced, yet fairly comprehensive book on peonies geared towards the average gardener, but there’s no reason for it not to be accurate. With this book, I rather find my intelligence insulted.

Not at all recommended.

Reviewed by Reiner Jakubowski
Director, American Peony Society
International Cultivar Registrar
Past President, Canadian Peony Society