Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Elsa Sass: Pure perfection

                          Huge white blooms adorn the compact, dark green foliage of Elsa Sass

Elsa Sass is, in many ways, the perfect white double peony. Its snowy, rose-form blooms come on late in the season, when many other peonies have begun to fade, and stand erect on sturdy stems that top out at about 30 inches in height. The dark green foliage is impeccable. We never see any leaf spotting on this cultivar, and it appears to be highly resistant to botrytis or other bacterial or viral diseases that sometimes affect peonies. 

This is one of the mainstay varieties of the cut flower portion of our peony farm. We remove the sidebuds from the stems when the buds are about pea size, leaving just the central bud to grow into a bloom often 8 inches or more across. The symmetrically placed petals of each flower are thicker than many other peonies and hold up extremely well in flower arrangements, where their light, sweet scent is equally welcoming. 

Although this variety has received the Gold Medal of the American Peony Society and has been around since 1930 thanks to the effort of breeder Hans P. Sass, it's one that hasn't garnered the recognition it deserves. There simply isn't a better white peony for a bridal bouquet or to lend an air of elegance to a garden border than peony Elsa Sass.

If you have any question about growing Elsa or any of our many other varieties you can leave a feedback here or contact me at To buy Elsa Sass go to

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Video: Peony Variety Showcase

                                                   Rows of Edulis Superba in bloom

Jan. 8, 2017

The following link will take you to our You Tube video slideshow that highlights some of the more than 200 varieties of peony flowers we grow. The thought the 7-minute presentation would be a nice mid-winter break for flower lovers. Let us know what you think and please share with friends. For more information about Fina Gardens go to

Friday, January 6, 2017

Peony Paul Wild

I am wild about Paul M. Wild. It easily makes my Top Ten favorites for both beauty and ease to grow. This peony was introduced by Gilbert H. Wild and Son, Missouri breeders, some 50 years ago, but incredibly has never managed to win the American Peony Society's Gold Medal Award or taken the APS Best of Show honors.
The peony features full double flowers of a rich ruby red. It has exceptional size and vigor. The stems are very stout. Even so, the prolific and large blooms can make the stems bow unless supported. If sidebuds are removed, stems stand well on their own and the center bloom can become massive. Most of the descriptions of this peony put its height at 36-inches, but I find that it regularly grows to 40 inches or more here in Northwest Wisconsin. In fact, we've  had plants exceed 60-inches some years. It was amazing to see these big 10-inch blooms practically staring you in the face.
The plant is very disease resistant—unlike many other red cultivars. After its mid-to-late season bloom, the dark green foliage remains attractive throughout the rest of the growing season, which really adds to its value in the garden. The only thing I find fault with in this peony is—like many other reds—its lack of a significant peony fragrance. But its other exceptional qualities more than make up for this.
If you have a place for a red peony in your garden, try Paul M. Wild. I can almost guarantee you'll be wild about it, too.

For more information about Paul Wild or to buy this peony go to

Monday, January 2, 2017

Bartzella tops Peony list

                                          A group of Bartzella just coming into bloom

Bartzella leads my list of the the top 10 peonies because it hits the mark in every way that defines a great peony: fragrant flowers that are big, bold and beautiful, stems that are strong enough to display those blooms well regardless of the weather and foliage that remains attractive throughout the growing season, so that even when not in bloom the plant is an attractive part of the garden.

Bartzella—an Itoh or Intersectional hybrid—is vigorous, making it among the easiest to grow and precocious to bloom. We have close to 75 plants in our  commercial beds and personal gardens and, in more than a decade of growing them, have yet to see a problem with any of the bacterial, fungal or viral diseases that can sometimes damage peonies.

It's a peony with great presence in the garden. Our plants regularly bloom out at 4 feet in height and will exceed that in width at maturity. So they can stand alone as a stunning specimen plant or add greatly to a mixed border.

Many of these fine qualities stem from their heritage as an intersectional cross between the common herbaceous lactiflora peony and the woody-stemmed tree peonies thanks to the work of Wisconsin hybridizer Roger Anderson in 1986. Bartzella earned the American Peony Society's Gold Medal in 2006 and was one of the first peonies to get the APS Award of Landscape Merit.

His creation cause quite a stir in the world of horticulture. Early on, single divisions of a Bartzella root were commonly fetching $1,000. Fortunately for most of us, the price has come down greatly as the supply has grown in recent years. It's still not an inexpensive peony, but I would argue that at current prices, it's the best bargain out there.

Just one note of caution if you are contemplating the purchase of a Bartzella or two—or any other intersectional for that matter.  Some of the plants offered for sale at nurseries or garden centers come from tissue culture propagation. These tend to be less vigorous and may even be genetically unstable. The best way to ensure you will have a Bartzella to enjoy for decades to come is to buy direct from a grower who propagates by root division like we do here at Fina Gardens.

If you have Bartzella, please feel free to comment on your experience with this peony. Also, if you have any questions about the Intersectional varieties please post in the comments section.

To buy Bartzella go to