ABOUT THE PEONY GARDENS
Started in the 1970s by Fred Leimkuhler, the Library’s first Head of Grounds, the Peony Gardens now contain more than 70 tree peonies of approximately 65 varieties.
Peony Gardens Collection
More About the Peony Gardens
- Tree peonies are not really “trees” but are deciduous shrubs and can grow up to 8-10 feet tall in their native habitat in China.
- In the United States, they will grow in zones 4-8 (Kansas City, Missouri, where the Linda Hall Library is located, is zone 6), requiring some winter weather in order to bloom.
- The best time to visit the Peony Gardens is around the third week of April, though this can vary depending on how warm or cool the spring weather is.
Tree Peonies, A History
One of the earliest accounts of tree peonies was written by Ou-yang Hisu (1007-1072) and is titled “Record of the Tree Peonies of Loyang.” In this account, Hisu says, “as for the tree peony, this has no name but is merely referred to as ‘flower,’ meaning that in the empire, the tree peony is the only true flower.” This record included names and descriptions of twenty-three cultivars about which Hisu says, “… I now record only the most outstanding varieties, and rank them in order.”