Peonies: a surprising experience in Italy

In the 1990s, Carlo Confidati, businessman and garden lover, first took interest in the fascinating world of peonies. His passion for gardening and the incredible history surrounding this rare flower prompted him to deepen his botanical knowledge. Nowadays The Moutan Botanical Centre in Viterbo, in the Lazio region of central Italy, is devoted to the collection, study and cultivation of Peonies. The collection counts more than 250,000 peonies of many different species, varieties and dimensions, all originating from China.

Shining out in the collection are over 300 varieties of the Suffruticosa group, 150 varieties of p.rockii, the p.ostii species, the many different p.ludlowii species and a great number p.lactiflora. The blooming season at the Moutan Botanical Centre is a surprising experience. A stroll among the park pathways amidst the delicate spring scent and the bright colours of the peonies is a unique experience. Every year the park is open to the public in the months of April and May, to share its astonishing sight. In 2019, next blooming season, the park will open its gates from April 10th till May 20th. Beyond making a selection among the Collection varieties, the Moutan Botanical Centre has started the production of new varieties that have been generated from the crossbreed between species present at the centre: hybrids of p.rockii and p.ostii, with their own peculiar characteristics. These hybrids show the characteristics of both parental species, which make them much more interesting from a botanical and landscape point of view. They are generally very vigorous plants, outspread and sturdy, with an intermediate blooming time; the single flowers are considerably big and with a dark mark at the base of the petals, not as strongly defined as in the Rocki peonies, but fading softly towards the tip of the petal. Likewise leaves can differ from those of their parents: they can be wider and darker than those of the rocki peony, and in Autumn they can turn to lively colours. These plants are obtained by spontaneous hybridization of the parents, with a long and painstaking propagation work carried out through the seed and an accurate selection of the offspring which leads to a unique and exclusive plant that express its originality even just only by one single detail on the leaf or on the flower. It’s possible to find a selection of those hybrids as well as other varieties embellishing the collection in the online shop: the plants can be ordered directly and will be shipped bare root starting from November.


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