At Primrose Hall, Alec White’s passion for peonies is infectious. As the owner and head nurseryman, his love for all plants and especially peonies runs deep. “Great Grandfather White” was a nurseryman too and some of Alec’s earliest and fondest recollections are of tending to plants in a nursery as a Saturday job.

What we experience in our childhoods and teenage years always has a significant impact on us (whether we like it or not) and this was true for Alec. Although there were a few diversions along the way - the horticultural influence in his youth brought him back to his roots.

Alec can remember the moment he became besotted by peonies. After buying his nursery and experimenting with growing various perennials, he remembers walking across the nursery thinking “What is that flower?!”
They stood out from the crowd, towering above everything else like a Queen surveying her land.

It was terminal. He was in love.

What he feels is especially remarkable is seeing them come into flower – going from nothing to almost a metre in height and bombarding the senses with voluptuous, fragrant blooms in just 6 weeks, the immense sense of well being just being around these beautiful blooms is palpable.

It’s evident that just being around peonies brings Alec and, in turn, all of us at Primrose Hall joy as well as a sense of genuine satisfaction nurturing the plants and watching them thrive. We feel that being close to and involved with nature is one of the best remedies for calming nerves and going some way to manage anxiety. Digging around in the dirt has helped to keep us sane, especially during this time.

Interestingly, peonies were used medicinally for a number of complaints for centuries in China. According to traditional Chinese medicine they have been known to help with inflammation – one of the most common side effects of stress. Recent research has found that Paeonia lactiflora inhibits fevers and assists with insulin resistance, helping our cells communicate. Remarkable!

Inspired to have one in your garden now? Here’s Alec’s top 4 tips for making sure you can enjoy your peony for years to come:

1 – Buy a well-established, mature plant that will flower. You won’t be able to tell from the top growth, it’s all about what’s happening underground. Herbaceous and intersectional peonies start flowering from three to five years of age and tree peonies from at least seven or eight years

2 – Plant in a sunny/ part-shaded and sheltered location

3 – Make sure whatever soil you have that it is well drained as they don’t like to have soggy “feet”

4 – Don’t plant them too deep. With herbaceous and intersectionals the crown must be no more than 5cm below the ground and the graft union of tree peonies needs to be 10-15cm below the surface. This makes for great flowers and strong plants!

You could pick one or two each of the early, mid and late flowering varieties on our site. There are many to choose from and that way you’ll and be able to enjoy flowers all the way from April to July!
Happy planting!



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