Carsten Burkhardt's Web Project Paeonia - The Peony Library

index 0602


The Manual of the American Peony Society


Copyright 1928 by American Peony Society

001_history of the american peony society


By A. P. Saunders*

ON JUNE 26, 1902, Charles Willis Ward, then President of the Cottage Gardens Nursery Co., at Queens, Long Island, sent out the following letter to growers of peonies in the United States:

My Dear Sir: Referring to the unsatisfactory condition in which the nomenclature of the peony now is, I write to ask you if you would cooperate in the formation of an association for the purpose of advancing the public interest in the peony, and especially straightening out peony nomenclature. Under existing conditions, when one orders a peony under name, a useless mixture of sorts under various names is often received. During the past year, peonies purchased under name from six to eight reputable firms, with few exceptions, proved either mixtures or untrue when the roots came into flow_er. In several instances each name covered varieties of peonies ranging from pure white through the various shades of pink to the deepest purple and crimson; for instance, a variety described in the catalogue of the nurseryman selling it as a beautiful flesh-pink, contained several plants bearing snow-white flowers, others bearing deep rose-pink blooms, and others bright crimson of the shade of Rubra Triumphans, but few of the plants proving to be of the variety bought.

The nurserymen in Holland, recognizing the hopeless mixture into which their stock of peonies have been allowed to lapse, have undertaken annual peony exhibitions for the purpose of correcting the nomenclature. They hold exhibits at several points throughout Holland and, I am told, are making strenuous efforts to get matters in proper shape.

The newer varieties which have been introduced, when well grown and well exhibited to the public, will certainly attract great attention, and such exhibits will naturally result in a large increase in the sales of the same. The work done for the carnation by the American Carnation Society is a striking example of what can be done by concentrated effort. The annual exhibitions of carnations held by the Carnation Society have been a great stimulus to the carnation industry, which now is certainly ten times as important as it was when the Carnation Society was formed. There is no reason why some such advance cannot be made in the case of the peony. True, we cannot expect to accomplish as much in the way of increasing business in peonies as has been done with the carnation, but organized effort will accomplish something.

Such an association could be conducted upon economical lines, and the holding of peony exhibitions under the auspices of local dubs and state horticultural societies could be encouraged by the offering of 'Professor Saunders extends his thanks to Messrs. Fewkes and ChristnjW for their assistance in compiling the history of the Society,




suitable prizes. There have been accumulated during the past eight or nine years large stocks of peonies which at the present time remain unknown. It only requires the exhibition and advertisement of these stocks to work up public interest to a much greater extent than the peony now commands.

Would you be willing to join in the formation of such an association, in which the annual dues would not exceed $3 to $5? My impression is that we could get probably from twenty-five to fifty members as a starter, and that eventually the membership might be worked up to one hundred, and possibly considerably more.

Awaiting your esteemed reply, I remain,

Sincerely yours,

C. W. Ward

The response to this invitation was general. Twenty-four firms or individuals signified their willingness to cooperate in forming a society for the purposes which Mr. Ward had outlined. A preliminary meeting for organization was held in Brooklyn on February 18, 1903, at which, according to the records of the proceedings of the Society, the following officers were chosen:

President, Arthur H. Fewkes, Newton Highlands, Mass.; Vice-President, Guy A. Bryant, Princeton, Ills.; Secretary, Alex. Wallace, New York City; Treasurer, J. Howes Humphreys, Philadelphia, Pa.

It was understood that in case either Mr. Wallace or Mr. Fewkes should find themselves unable to accept the offices to which they were elected, either Mr. Charlton or Mr. C. W. Ward would serve until the election of permanent officers.

The first annual meeting was fixed to be held during the session of the American Association of Nurserymen, which was to be held in Detroit during June, 1903.

Mr. Wallace found it impossible to serve as Secretary, and Mr. Fewkes decided that it would be impossible for him to serve as President. However, an arrangement was made whereby Mr. Fewkes would fill the office of Secretary and Mr. Ward that of President, until the first annual meeting.

The offices of the Society being thus filled in a temporary way, the first annual meeting was held at Detroit on June n and 12, 1903. At that meeting Mr. Ward was elected President, Mr. Bryant, Vice-President, Mr. Fewkes, Secretary, and Mr. Humphreys, Treasurer.

The Secretary's book lists the following as charter members at the time of this meeting. Those mentioned in the first group joined the Society in 1902; those in the second became members jn 1903.





F. A. Blake, Rochdale, Mass. Jackson & Perkins Co., Newark, N. Y. James Wheeler, Brookline, Mass.

E. J. Shaylor, Wellesley Hills, Mass. H. A. Dreer, Philadelphia, Pa. Ellwanger & Barry, Rochester, N. Y. J. F. Rosenfield, West Point, Neb.

The Storrs & Harrison Co., Painesville, Ohio.

A. H. Fewkes, Newton Highlands, Mass.

Thomas Meehan & Sons, Germantown, Philadelphia, Pa.

George Hollis, South Weymouth, Mass.

T. C. Thurlow, West Newbury, Mass.

John Charlton & Sons, Rochester, N. Y.

W. & T. Smith, Geneva, N. Y.

William A. Peterson, Chicago, Ills.

William Warner Harper (J. Howes Humphreys), Chestnut Hill,

Philadelphia, Pa. Wild Bros., Sarcoxie, Mo. Arthur Bryant & Son, Princeton, Ills. Edwin A. Reeves, Cleveland, Ohio

F. S. Reisenberg, Walden, N. Y. C. S. Harrison, York, Neb.

C. W. Ward, Queens, N. Y. Alex. Wallace, New York, N. Y.


Frank B. Lown, Poughkeepsie, N. Y. C. Betscher, Canal Dover, Ohio J. Wilkinson Elliott, Springdale, Pa. F. W. Meneray, Crescent, Iowa Klehm's Nursery, Arlington Heights, Ills. Julius Heurlin, South Braintree, Mass. Prof. Robert T. Jackson, Cambridge, Mass. P. Owerkerk, Jersey City, N. J. C. H. Joostin, New York, N. Y. E. Hawley & Sons, Fenville, Mich. August Rolker & Sons, New York, N. Y. Philip Breitmeyer, Detroit, Mich. James McKissock, West Newton, Mass. J. Woodward Manning, Reading, Mass.

At the first annual meeting, in Detroit, in 1903, it was voted that the Society be incorporated under the laws of the State of New York. Mr. Frank B. Lown, one of the charter members of the Society, offered his services as attorney in the matter, and the Certificate of Incorporation was filed in Albany on July 2, 1904, New York County having been chosen by the




Society as its legal home. The Certificate of Incorporation bears the names of Messrs. Ward, Fewkes, Humphreys, Harrison, Reeves, W. A. Peterson, and Bryant.

There seems to have been no exhibition in connection with the first meeting. The second meeting and the first exhibition were held in New York, June 8-9, 1904. I have not found among the papers of the Society any indications of a prize schedule for this exhibition, and I doubt that any prizes were given, especially as there are no entries for the payment of prize money in the report of the Treasurer at the following meeting. But there were blooms staged, as the following brief but significant note in the Secretary's report will indicate:

The exhibition held during the meeting at New York was a fairly good one, there being about seven exhibitors, who staged many fine flowers, but there was a great lack of names, thereby diminishing the value of the show.

But the main purpose for which the Society had been founded was neither to hold meetings nor to stage exhibitions. Its aim was to attack the difficult question of peony nomenclature and to bring order out of the confusion which then reigned among the named peonies in commerce.

The records of the Society show with what energy and intelligence these aims were being pursued. Through the solicitation of President Ward, M. Auguste Dessert, the famous French specialist, was induced to compile a descriptive list of varieties introduced by Belgian and French growers, basing his text on the catalogues of the originators. This document, known as the Dessert manuscript, is still in the possession of the Society. It bears the title:

Herbaceous Chinese Peonies. A List of Authentic Varieties According to the Catalogues of Modeste Gu6rin, 1865; Verdier, 1868; Mechin, 1860-1880; Calot, 1862-1873; Crousse, 1875-1900; Lemoine, 1898-1902; Dessert, 1880-1902,

and is inscribed:

To Mr. C. W. Ward, President of the American Peony Society. A. Dessert. Chenonceaux, September 3, 1903.

M. Dessert states in a letter to Mr. Ward that he believes the list to contain every authentic variety of French or Belgian origin. It includes 549 varieties. The construction of this list was no small task, and by so generously cooperating in the work




that was being done here, M. Dessert has made us all his debtors.

Furthermore, Mr. Fewkes compiled a list of those American commercial varieties which had been originated by John Richardson, George Hollis, H. A. Terry, Ellwanger & Barry, and Mrs. Pleas; and from the catalogues of Kelway & Sons, in England, a list of 294 double varieties, covering introductions offered by them from 1884 to 1904.

Finally, Mr. F. A. Blake furnished a list of Japanese varieties, with correct translations obtained through a Japanese friend who was a member of the Imperial Household. (This list dealt, for the most part, with tree peonies; there were very few herbaceous varieties in it.)

There were thus brought together descriptions of about a thousand varieties of herbaceous peonies, mostly doubles.

That covered the ground pretty thoroughly so far as printed descriptions were concerned. But the work which lay ahead was a much more arduous and ambitious task. This was nothing less than the assembling of an immense collection which should include, as far as possible, all varieties at that time in commerce for study and comparison, the purpose being, as outlined at the time by Prof. John Craig, of Cornell University, (i) the elimination of duplicates, (2) the establishing of a correct nomenclature, and (3) the writing of accurate descriptions of true varieties.

This collection had its home at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, where, through the courtesy of Professor Craig, land and care for the plants had been offered.

An appeal sent out in August, 1904, to all important growers, both here and abroad, met with a most gratifying response. The Society was in no position to purchase roots at their market value, and had, therefore, to depend on the generosity of the growers to contribute examples from their stock free of cost. Within that same year, Professor Craig was able to report the receipt of no less than 1,470 varieties, and by the time the plantation was ready for study there were about 3,500 roots under observation, representing 1,933 varieties.

Here follows a list of those who contributed to the building up of this great collection, together with the number of varieties contributed by each. To these growers the thanks of all peony-lovers are forever due.





230 A. Dessert, Chenonceaux, France

200 Goos & Koenemann, Niederwalluf, Rheingau, Germany

169 L. Paillet, Chatenay (Seine), France

124 de Graaff Bros., Leiden, Holland

76 Croux Bros., Chatenay (Seine), France 43 L. van Leeuwen & Sons, Sassenheim, Holland 21 Peter Barr, Covent Garden, London, England 14 James Veitch, Chelsea, England


376 Cottage Gardens (C. W. Ward), Queens, Long Island, N. Y.

149 John Charlton & Sons, Rochester, N. Y.

147 B. H. Farr, Reading, Pa.

135 Ellwanger & Barry, Rochester, N. Y.

125 Peterson Nursery, Chicago, 111. 113 J. F. Rosenfield, West Point, Neb.

99 Andorra Nurseries, Philadelphia, Pa.

91 The Storrs & Harrison Co., Painesville, Ohio

82 T. C. Thurlow, West Newbury, Mass.

81 Jackson & Perkins Co., Newark, N. Y.

70 George Hollis, South Weymouth, Mass.

63 Dr. C. S. Minot, Readville, Mass.

58 Perennial Gardens, Springfield, Ohio

56 W. & T. Smith, Geneva, N. Y.

42 Wild Bros. Nursery Co., Sarcoxie, Mo.

41 James King, Elmhurst, 111.

38 Blue Hill Nursery, South Braintree, Mass.

36 A. H. Fewkes, Newton Highlands, Mass.

12 Elm City Nursery Co., New Haven, Conn.

2 Sarah A. Pleas, Spiceland, Ind.

i J. T. Lovett, Little Silver, N. J.

i A. L. Gould Co., Gilman, 111.

There were, of course, a number of duplicates among the stock received, since it represented, in many cases, the entire list of the contributor. There must have been plants received in addition to those mentioned in this list to account for the total of 3,500. These may have come as later shipments from the same contributors or as gifts from other growers, but there is no further information about this in the printed bulletins.

A very critical question had now to be confronted. Who was to undertake the work of comparison and identification? Cornell University had supplied a very competent young man, Mr. J. Eliot Coit, to take care of the work on the spot, but there was needed a thoroughly equipped expert, one familiar with peonies by long experience, who would be willing to sacrifice




his time and his own business interests during the height of the season for the sake of accomplishing the great task that had now become a possibility. It was an extraordinary piece of good fortune for the Society that Mr. B. H. Farr, of Reading, Pennsylvania, was willing to carry the main burden of the undertaking. With him was associated Mr. Joseph Dauphin, of the Cottage Gardens Nursery, a young man who had enjoyed a wide experience with the peony in Europe, and who had a nice sense of discrimination. To these two experts were added Mr. Coit, and later, Mr. Leon D. Batchelor, from Cornell University, who worked with Messrs. Farr and Dauphin and later compiled the results and prepared them for publication.

For several successive years this group met at Cornell, at Mr. Farr's nursery at Reading, or at the Cottage Gardens collection on Long Island, and gave a week, or two weeks, or more, to an intensive study of the whole range of commercial varieties among the Chinese peonies.

How great was the need of such a survey was soon apparent from its results. The confusion of names that began to be unearthed was almost incredible. For example, Edulis Superba was found to have been sent to Cornell under twenty-three different names, sometimes even under three or four different names from the same nursery! Indeed, almost all widely grown varieties existed in the trade under more than one name. Docteur Bretonneau (Verdier) appeared under fourteen names; Whitleyi under five; and so with others.

It should be said that Mr. Coit had already made a valuable contribution to peony literature by publishing, in 1907, under the auspices of Cornell University and of the Nomenclature Committee of the Peony Society, a peony check-list. Its purpose was to supply an index of all the peony names which had appeared in horticultural literature, magazines, or nurserymen's catalogues up to that time, as well as of the roots which had been received at the Cornell plot—quite a big undertaking, as anyone will admit who turns over the pages of the work. It labors under a complicated system of indexing which does not accord with current usage, and there are errors in the writing of names, as was inevitable. Some of these are, no doubt, traceable to defective and illegible labels on plants received. But, making allowance for these imperfections, the publication is of real value to the peony student, since it gives




reference to articles in the journals in which species or varieties are described and photographed. This list includes not only the Chinese peonies but the whole range of species and their varieties, including even tree peonies.

The first fruits of the studies made in the field appeared in another Cornell Bulletin, No. 259, published in 1908, also from the hand of Mr. Coit. This pamphlet begins with a chapter on the history, culture, and classification of the peony, with a useful bibliography. Then follow descriptions of about ninety varieties, including a few species.

This was followed, in 1910, by Cornell Bulletin, No. 278, prepared by Mr. Batchelor on the basis of further studies in the field. It is given over entirely to descriptions and covers nearly four hundred varieties. For the specification of color shades, the so-called French chart is used. The full title of the chart is "Repertoire des Couleurs pour aider a la Determination des Couleurs des Fleurs, des Feuillages, et des Fruits." (Published by the Societe Francaise des Chrysanthemistes et Rene Ober-thvir et Henri Dauthenay, Paris: Librairie de la Maison Rusti-que, 26 rue Jacob. 1905.)

This was in the days when high hopes were held about the use of color charts for description and identification as well as for the planning of color effects in the garden. Experience has shown that such color designations, so far as peonies are concerned, have not as much value as was anticipated for them. Peonies suffer such great variations in color, especially in the more delicately tinted sorts, according to the conditions under which the bloom expands, that it is quite impossible to make color-chart comparisons exact and unequivocal. Even the question whether the comparison has been made indoors or out will often lead to quite different decisions as to the true designation of the color. Those who were responsible for the peony descriptions were fully aware of this difficulty, as the writer well remembers from an afternoon spent with them in the fields.

Meanwhile the work of stabilizing the commercial varieties was proceeding with rapid strides. Standard descriptions were at last available, and growers began to revise their names in accordance with the results reached at Cornell.

The third and final Cornell Bulletin, No. 306, published in 1911, gives about 265 further descriptions, bringing the total u p to about 750 which had appeared in the three bulletins.




Along with this is an imposing list of the synonyms which had been found. This is now largely a matter of past history, for these synonyms have practically disappeared from the American nursery trade. The deplorable habit then current of simply renaming stock when a label was lost or illegible could not today be indulged in by any peony-grower who wished to preserve his good name in the profession. Such an incident as is cited by Mr. Coit in the introduction to the check-list illustrates what went on in the peony world twenty-five years ago. He says: "On working over the trade catalogues, one came to hand which contained in its general list of herbaceous peonies ninety-seven names no one of which had occurred previously in any of our lists or card indexes. No intimation was made in this catalogue that any of these were new varieties, coming out of a clear sky, as it were. We grew suspicious and wrote to the firm for an explanation. Their answer was as guileless as it was interesting. 'Certainly,' they said, 'we bought a large job lot of roots without names and supplied the names ourselves that they might sell better.' "

With Bulletin No. 306 the work with the material at Cornell was completed, and in 1912 the collection was broken up and disseminated. Those who had so unselfishly devoted themselves to its study found their reward in the wide knowledge they had acquired. Mr. Farr often expressed himself as well satisfied with what he had gained in return for his labor; and he was recognized from that time on to his death, in 1924, as the leading peony authority in this country, or indeed in any country.

Thus came to an end that first chapter in the history of the Society.

The growth of the Society through those early years was very slow by comparison with the large annual increase in later times. Beginning with only thirty-seven members in 1903, it had increased by 1912 to nearly a hundred, including most of the important growers in the country, both professional and amateur.

The exhibitions held in conjunction with the annual meetings had proved a useful adjunct to the work done in the fields at Cornell. For in these exhibitions were to be seen well-staged blooms of most of the standard varieties, from which anyone in doubt as to the authenticity of his own stock might resolve his uncertainties. The entries at those early shows were indeed




few and small compared to what we see nowadays. The entire stretch of one of them would occupy scarcely a corner in one of the great halls which are filled by our present-day exhibitions. Yet we enjoyed them and learned much from them. They were a gathering of friends sharing a common enthusiasm rather than a great spectacle for the public.

Mr. Ward's presidency lasted from the founding of the Society, in 1903, until 1909 when he was obliged by ill health to resign office. In recognition of his great services to the Society, he was then made Honorary President, so that the Society might still have the benefit of his cooperation and interest. He remained in this relation to the Society until his death in 1920.

Mr. Farr succeeded him and occupied the presidency until 1917. Mr. A. H. Fewkes was the Society's Secretary from the first year until 1911. Thus Mr. Ward and Mr. Fewkes were in office together through all the early formative years, and we may well be grateful that the policies of the Society were determined by men like these, men to whom the peony was, it is true, business, but also something far more than that—a life enthusiasm, and, indeed, one may say a passion. The general influence of the Society, and particularly the work of the Nomenclature Committee, began to bear fruit at just about the time when Mr. Fewkes gave up the secretaryship; and the rapid growth in membership and the enormous increase in the popularity of the peony in America are in large measure due to the wise judgment and disinterested devotion of the men who organized the Society and first started it on its way, even if they did not in their terms of office see the full results of their efforts.

But with these two, Mr. Ward and Mr. Fewkes, must always be remembered Mr. Farr, who did more than anyone else, perhaps, to make the peony known and appreciated by the gardening public in this country.

The present writer succeeded Mr. Fewkes in the Secretary's office in 1911 and continued to occupy it until 1924, when he was succeeded by Mr. W. F. Christman. The Society was, in 1911, entering upon a period of more rapid growth, and the idea was in the air that there should be some medium of communication between peony-growers which might serve also as the official organ of the Society. To this end there appeared in 1915 the first number of the "Bulletin of Peony News." It has gone on




from that time, and the thirty-second number, under the more appropriate name "American Peony Society Bulletin," was published in November, 1927. The editorship of the Bulletin has always been in the hands of the Secretary, and a good deal of each issue has been from his pen, though many valuable contributions on different aspects of peony culture have been contributed by members of the Society in America and abroad.

At the time when the Bulletin began to appear, peony culture was entering on a new phase in America. When the Society was founded, almost all the varieties generally in commerce here were of French origin. There were only a very few which had originated in America, for with the exception of John Richardson there was no one in America, previous to 1900, who had added any varieties of much importance. But about the time when the Society was organized, new varieties began to appear from the hands of American growers, first from H. A. Terry, C. S. Harrison, George Hollis, A. M. Brand, J. F. Rosen-field, and Mrs. Pleas, and later from T. C. Thurlow's Sons, E. J. Shaylor, and others. Now, almost every year sees additions, not only to the list of named peonies but to the list of names of introducers of peonies.* More than 275 new named varieties have been added in this country within twenty-five years. Many of these, it must be said, were not of a quality to justify their introduction into commerce, but a fair proportion of them were of such beauty as to challenge the best of the importations from Europe where the genius of Lemoine and Dessert was still active in the production of varieties of supreme quality.

With the development of a true "peony public" in America, the need was arising for some impersonal judgment as to the relative merits of the new candidates for favor in the long and ever longer list of commercial peonies. With this in view, a list of the recent foreign varieties was sent out in 1916 to all members of the Society, with the request that they should mark them for excellence on a scale of 10. The votes were then tabulated, averages were compiled, and thus the first symposium appeared in the third issue of the Bulletin, in 1916. The idea met with favor and the list was supplemented in 1919. In 1921, a new set of votes was taken, the whole tabulation revised, and a special "symposium number" of the Bulletin (No. 14) was issued.

*See Appendix A, page 313.




The effect of these symposiums began to be felt at once in the trade in two ways. Nurserymen found it to their advantage to quote the Society's "ratings" as a guide to their customers on all sorts which had secured a high average; but not less they found themselves inclined to abandon or to put on the bargain counter those which had come off badly in the symposium. Indeed, the Society took the lead here in compiling a list of the varieties which had ranked at 6.0 or below and in recommending that they should be dropped from culture. And a further step was taken when in 1927 the Directors voted unanimously to discard all varieties rated lower than 7.5.

Thus progress has been made toward the goal which intelligent and progressive peony-growers had long had in view—the entire elimination of a great deal of inferior material from the trade and the encouragement of buying only the better sorts.

The symposium method has since been adopted with equal success by several other American societies devoted to special flowers, notably by the American Iris Society which has carried the symposium idea a step farther than we have carried it ourselves. The slowness of propagation and dissemination in the case of the peony will always make it difficult to keep such rating lists up to date, a difficulty much less keenly felt with an easy plant like the iris.

When the Peony Society was founded, its membership was almost entirely eastern. Out of 37 charter members, 24 were in Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania. Twenty of these, or more than half the Society, were in the two states, Massachusetts and New York alone. The so-called Central States, Ohio to Kansas and northward, had but 12 members. In contrast to this, in the membership list compiled at the end of the year 1926, giving approximately 700 as the total membership, 377 were from the Central States while Massachusetts and New York together had less than one-sixth of the membership. These figures show very clearly how the center of peony culture has shifted westward in the past twenty-five years.

There has been also a spread to the South and to the Far West. The sixteen Southern States which had no members when the Society was founded now have 47, and the Western States, which also had no charter members, now have 43. But in the Western States it is mostly Washington and Oregon, with 26 members together, and Colorado with 10, that bring the



number up, while the Southern States of Maryland, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, and Tennessee account for 30 out of the South's 47 members. Interest in the peony grows where the plant grows, and the fact that the total membership in South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, and Oklahoma is only 4, indicates clearly enough that the peony is not a good plant for the most southerly states. Similarly with the Western States, those most to the north on the Pacific Slope provide the best climate for peony-culture.

But of all regions the Middle West shows the largest increase in membership. During the last ten years particularly, the geographical center of gravity of the Society has been shifting westward, and as the old tradition of the Peony Society as mainly an Eastern organization has gradually given way, an increasing voice in the management of its affairs has been accorded to the Middle West. Along with this the wish to have the annual exhibition staged in one of the cities of that section came to be recognized as natural and right. As a result, four of the last five shows have been set in Middle-Western cities.

Along with the immense increase in the number of members during recent years (the list now numbers about 1,000) and the development of our exhibitions to proportions which were never dreamed of before, there has been a corresponding increase in peony-growing as a business. The peony is now cultivated for the cut-flower trade on an immense scale, and even where the plant is grown mainly for the nursery trade, the plantings have taken on a new aspect. The great collections of such growers as Mr. A. M. Brand, at Faribault, Minnesota, The Indian Spring Farms, at Baldwinsville, New York, the Good & Welsh Company at Springfield, Ohio—to name only a few—are like nothing that has been seen before in peonies.

Along with this expansion has come also the introduction into commerce of new varieties in ever-increasing numbers. One can hardly avoid the feeling that a saturation point must some day be reached. And yet, over the vast territory of America, what has been done so far may be as nothing in comparison with what the future may show with a plant so easy of general culture and so well adapted to the climatic conditions of almost the whole of the country.



The Society, which set itself to encourage the production of new and better varieties, has now to face the problem of checking the tendency to name and put on the market seedlings which are not of enough real merit or distinction to warrant their introduction. Within recent years a special and permanent committee has been constituted whose function it is to inspect the exhibits of seedlings at our annual exhibitions and to give recognition where it is due, to anything of unusual merit. This committee has so far very wisely taken a conservative attitude toward the blooms that have come under its consideration.

At the present time a new collection is being brought together at Urbana, Illinois, for purposes of study and comparison. This is limited to varieties of the Japanese and single types. The work is under the immediate charge of Prof. H. P. Dorner, of the University of Illinois, and associated with him is a committee of the Peony Society consisting of Messrs. Paul L. Battey, Walter L. Gumm, and Edward Auten, Jr. No results will be available for some years, but as soon as possible they will be made known through the pages of the Bulletin.

When this task is completed, it may well be asked, What will the Society turn to next? It is evident that such an organization cannot be content merely to hold annual meetings, elect officers, and stage exhibitions in which, for the most part, the same varieties are seen year after year. I think Mr. Wister in his chapter on tree peonies* has indicated something to which the Society must sooner or later turn its attention, and that is the neglected tree peony. The difficulty of obtaining plants to begin with, and then the ever-recurring uncertainties and tragedies encountered in cultivation, have, so far, sufficed to keep this noble plant almost unknown in the gardens of America. Mr. Wister, the Farr Nursery Company, and others have for years been working upon the production and propagation of fine varieties, and the time seems now to be in sight when tree peonies will be available in commerce. No one who has seen the display of gorgeous blooms in Highland Park at Rochester needs to be told how marvelous tree peonies are. Nor will anyone who has once possessed them be willing to live thereafter without them, if they are in any way obtainable.

Furthermore, there are signs of a growing interest in those peonies which are derived neither from P. albiflora nor from

*See The Moutan Tree Peony, by John C. Wister, page 217.—editor,



P. moutan, but from other species, either by selection from among seedlings, or by making species crosses. There are many fine varieties of P. officinalis that have been in existence for a long time and should be more appreciated; there are also the beautiful hybrids of P. Wittmanniana made by Lemoine and the more recent hybrids of P. lutea with tree peonies. The use of such plants puts the beginning of peony season a month earlier in the spring and gives a variety to one's collection which is much needed. The Society will surely pay more attention to these things in the future than it has in the past. There are other crosses besides those mentioned capable of yielding fine new strains. One of these is just making its appearance. It is a strain of hybrids resulting from the crossing of the ordinary Chinese peonies with the P. officinalis kinds. It is strange that this cross was not made long ago, for within the last ten years it has been worked on by five different growers in this country known to me, and perhaps by others as well; and all of these five, I believe, began their work quite independently.

It is not possible within the limits of this chapter to speak in any detail of the work of all who have contributed to the progress and success of the Society. Something has already been said of Mr. Ward, Mr. Fewkes, and Mr. Farr. Mr. James Boyd, who has undertaken the taskof editing the present volume, has served the Society ably as President, and during the past few years has incurred a further debt of gratitude from the Society by reorganizing the work of the Treasurer's office. Mr. W. H. Thurlow has brought his good judgment and wide knowledge of peonies to the service of the Society over a period of a good many years. And so with others who have given of their time and wisdom. The Society holds them in honor and gratitude.

016_annual meetings_roll of officers and directors




1903 February 18, Brooklyn, N. Y.

(Preliminary.) 1903 June ii, 12, Detroit, Mich.

(No_ exhibition.)

une8, 9,NewYork,N.Y.

1904 1905 1906

1907 1908

une 16,17, Chicago, 111. une 15,16, Boston, Mass.

une 27, 28, Ithaca, N. Y.

une 19,20, Ithaca, N. Y. ^y lUne n, 12, Queens, Long Island, N. Y.

1910 June 14,15, Boston, Mass.

1911 June 8, 9, Philadelphia, Pa.


1913 1914

1915 . 1916

une 19, 20, Ithaca, N. Y. une 12,13, Cleveland, Ohio une 10, n, Chicago, 111. une 19, 20, Boston, Mass, une 9,10, New York, N.Y.

1917 June 13, i4,Philadelphia, Pa.

1918 June 5, 6, Cleveland, Ohio

1919 June 17,18, Detroit, Mich.

1920 .'une 10, n, Reading, Pa.

1921 _ une 18,19, Boston, Mass.

1922 June 16,17, London, Ontario, Canada

1923 June 21-23, Minneapolis, Minn.

1924 June 21-23, Des Moines, Iowa

1925 June 6, 7, Philadelphia, Pa.

1926 June 15,16, Fort Wayne, Ind.

1927 June 9,10, Peoria, 111.

1928 June 21-23, Boston, Mass.


Presidents of the Society:

C. W. ward1903-1908

(Honorary President, 1909—1920)

B. H. parr1909-1916

james boyd1917-1918

lee R. bonnewitz1919-1920

A. H. fewkes.1921-1922

W. H. thurlow1923-1924

A. M. brand.1925-1927

H. P. little1928

Secretaries of the Society:

A. H. fewkes.1903-1910

A. P. saunders1911-1923

W. P. christman.1924

Treasurers of the Society:

J. howes humphreys.1903-1917

A.H. scott1918-1921

dr. W. E. upjohn.1922-1923

H. S. cooper.1924

james boyd1925-1927

W. W. cook.1928

016a_plate 03_peonies used to good effect

plate III. Peonies used to good effect in an informal garden





guy A. bryant1903-1904

wm. A. peterson.1905-1907

C. J. maloy1908-1911

E. B. george.1912-1914

A. H. fewkes.1915-1920

(In 1927 elected Honorary Vice-Presidcnt for life)

harry A. norton.1921

W. H. thurlow1922

A. M. brand.1923-1924

W. W. cook1925-1926

H. F. little.1927

A. P. saunders1928

List of those who served as Directors, indicating also the terms they have held as officers:

C. S. harrison, 1903.

E. A. reeves, 1903-1916.

W. A. peterson, 1903-1907, 1923. (Vice-President, 1905-1907.)

theodore smith, 1904-1908.

j. f. rosenfield, 1906.

G. C. thurlow, 1907-1912.

A. P. saunders, 1909-1923; 1925-1928. (Secretary, 1911-1923; Vice-President, 1928.)

S. G. harris, 1912-1914. john M. good, 1913-1915. R. T. brown, 1915-1919.

james boyd, 1916-1928. (President, 1917-1918; Treasurer,

1925-1927.) L. R. bonnewitz, 1918-1920. (President, 1919-1920.)

B. H. farr, 1909-1924 (died, 1924). (President, 1909-1916.) T. A. havemeyer, 1919.

A. M. brand, 1921-1928. (Vice-President, 1923-1924; President, 1925-1927.)

A. H. fewkes, 1903-1922. (Secretary, 1903-1910; Vice-President, 1915-1920; President, 1921-1922.)

H. F. little, 1924-1928. (Vice-President, 1927; President, 1928.) W. G. dumont, 1924-1927.

W. H. thurlow, 1922-1928. (Vice-President, 1922; President,

1923-1924.) W. W. cook, 1925-1928. (Vice-President, 1925-1926; Treasurer,


W. F. christman, 1924-1928. (Secretary, 1924-1928.) ward welsh, 1927 (died). charles F. wassenberg, 1928.

017a_plate 4_gold medal of the aps

plate IV. Gold Medal of the American Peony Society

018_gold medal awards_special awards




HAS BEEN AWARDED TO THE FOLLOWING: B. H. farr, 1914. brand peony farms, 1923.

T. C. thurlow's sons, 1915. A. M. brand, 1923. B. H. farr, 1916. harry F. little, 1924.

james boyd, 1917. movilla gardens (James Boyd and

B. H. farr, 1918. J. C. Wister), 1925.

T. C. thurlow's sons, 1919. american rose and plant Co., 1926. james boyd, 1920. american rose and plant Co., 1927.

T. C. thurlow's sons, 1921. indian spring farms, 1928. T. C. thurlow's sons, 1922.



cherry hill, Very Highly Commended, 1915. mrs. edward harding, Mrs. Harding's Special Prize

of $100, 1918.

grace loomis, First-Class Certificate, 1919. grace loomis, Certificate of Merit, 1921. katharine havemeyer, Honorable Mention, 1922. president wilson, Honorable Mention, 1922. mrs. frank beach, Honorable Mention, 1922. blanche king, Honorable Mention, 1922. mrs. A. M. brand, Gold Medal, 1923. myrtle gentry, Silver Medal, 1923. laverne christman, Certificate of Merit, 1923. florence macbeth, First-Class Certificate, 1924. nancy dolman, First-Class Certificate, 1924. frankie curtis, First-Class Certificate, 1924.


AT NATIONAL SHOWS 1905. chicago, ill. C. W. Ward. Honorable Mention for extensive collection

of peonies.

Klehm's Nursery. Honorable Mention for collection of peonies artistically arranged.

1914. chicago, ill. B. H. Farr, Reading, Pa. Gold Medal for not less than loo

named varieties. Open class.

1915. boston, mass. T. C. Thurlow's Sons, West Newbury, Mass. Gold Medal

for not less than 100 named varieties. Open class.

Prof. A. P. Saunders, Clinton, N. Y. Silver Medal for seedling No. 362.

T. C. Thurlow's Sons, West Newbury, Mass. Very Highly Commended for variety Cherry Hill.

1916. new york, N. Y. B. H. Farr, Wyomissing, Pa. Gold Medal for not less

than ico varieties. Open class.

James Boyd, Haverford, Pa. Silver Medal for best collection in amateur class.

1917. philadelphia, pa. James Boyd, Haverford, Pa. Gold Medal for not

less than 100 named varieties. Open class.

James Boyd, Haverford, Pa. Silver Medal for not less than ico varieties. Amateur class.




1918. cleveland, ohio. B. H. Fair, Wyomissing, Pa. Gold Medal for not

more than 100 varieties. Open class.

E. J. Shaylor. Mrs. Edward Harding's Special Prize of $100 for seedling No. 35, afterward named Mrs. Edward Harding.

1919. detroit, mich. T. C. Thurlow's Sons, West Newbury, Mass. Gold

Medal for not more than loo named varieties. Open class. Prof. A. P. Saunders, Clinton, N. Y. First-Class Certificate for variety

Grace Loomis. B. H. Farr, Wyomissing, Pa. Honorable Mention for seedling No. 6.

1920. reading, pa. James Boyd, Haverford, Pa. Gold Medal for not more

than ico varieties. Open class.

E. K. Schultz, Philadelphia, Pa. Silver Medal for not more than 50 varieties. Amateur class.

1921. boston, mass. T. C. Thurlow's Sons, West Newbury, Mass. Gold Medal

for not more than 100 varieties. Open class. T. F. Donahue, Newton Lower Falls, Mass. Silver Medal for not

more than 50 varieties. Amateur class. Prof. A. P. Saunders, Clinton, N. Y. Certificate of Merit for Grace


1922. london, ont. T. C. Thurlow's Sons, West Newbury, Mass. Gold Medal

for not more than ico varieties. Open class. S. F. Wood, London, Ont. Silver Medal for not more than 50 varieties.

Amateur class. T. C. Thurlow's Sons, West Newbury, Mass. Honorable Mention for

seedling Katharine Havemeyer. T. C. Thurlow's Sons, West Newbury, Mass. Honorable Mention for

seedling President Wilson. Prof. A. P. Saunders, Clinton, N. Y. Honorable Mention for seedling

No. 877. A. M. Brand, Faribault, Minn. Honorable Mention for seedling Mrs.

Frank Beach. A. M. Brand, Faribault, Minn. Honorable Mention for seedling

Blanche King.

1923. minneapolis-st. paul, minn. Brand Peony Farms, Faribault, Minn.

Gold Medal for not less than 100 varieties. Open class. T. F. Donahue, Newton Lower Falls, Mass. Silver Medal for not more

than 50 varieties. Amateur class. A. M. Brand, Faribault, Minn. Gold Medal for seedling Mrs. A. M.

Brand. A. M. Brand, Faribault, Minn. Silver Medal for seedling Myrtle

Gentry. A. M. Brand, Faribault, Minn. Certificate of Merit for seedling La-

verne Christman. T. C. Thurlow's Sons, West Newbury, Mass. Certificate of Merit for

seedling No. 23. H. P. Sass, Washington, Neb. Certificate of Merit for seedlings Nos.

051 and SBi.

1924. dbs moines, iowa. Harry F. Little, Goodland, Ind. Gold Medal for

not more than ico varieties. Open class.

W. W. Cook, Clinton, Iowa. Silver Medal for not more than 50 varieties. Amateur class.

H. P. Sass, Washington, Neb. First-Class Certificate for Florence Macbeth.

L. A. Vories, St. Joseph, Mo. First-Class Certificate for Nancy Dolman.

L. A. Vories, St. Joseph, Mo. First-Class Certificate for Frankie Curtis.

020_special awards at local shows



1925. philadelphia, pa. Movilla Gardens (James Boyd and John C. Wister),

Haverford, Pa. Gold Medal for not more than 100 varieties. Open class.

1926. fort wayne, ind. American Rose & Plant Co., Springfield, Ohio. Gold

Medal for not more than 100 varieties. Open class. Dr. J. H. Neeley, Paulding, Ohio. Silver Medal for not more than 50

varieties. Amateur class. 1917. peoria, ill. American Rose & Plant Co., Springfield, Ohio. Gold Medal

for not more than too varieties. Open Class. W. W. Cook, Clinton, Iowa. Silver Medal for not more than 50

varieties. Amateur class.


1919. minneapolis-st. paul, minn. D. W. C. Ruff, St. Paul, Minn. Silver Medal for best display.

1923. boston, mass. T. C. Thurlow's Sons, West Newbury, Mass. Silver

Medal for best display.

london, ont. S. F. Wood, London, Ont. Silver Medal for not more than 50 varieties. Amateur class.

1924. minneapolis, minn. Brand Peony Farms, Faribault, Minn. Silver Medal

for not more than 100 varieties.

boston, mass. T. C. Thurlow's Sons, West Newbury, Mass. Silver Medal for not more than 100 varieties.

1925. dbs moines, iowa. W. G. DuMont, Des Moines, Iowa. Silver Medal

for not more than 25 varieties. Amateur class. minneapolis-st. paul, minn. Rivcrview Gardens, St. Paul, Minn.

Silver Medal for not more than ico varieties. boston, mass. T. C. Thurlow's Sons, West Newbury, Mass. Silver

Medal for not more than ico varieties.

1926. seattle, wash. Ivan W. Gpodner, Seattle, Wash. Silver Medal for

not more than ico varieties. Amateur class. des moines, iowa. Edward W. Auten, Jr., Princeville, 111. Silver Medal

for sweepstake prize. Sioux falls, S. dak. Charles McCaffree, Sioux Falls, S. Dak. Silver

Medal for best collection entered in competition. minneapolis, minn. Riverview Gardens, St. Paul, Minn. Silver Medal

for not more than ico varieties. boston, mass. T.C. Thurlow's Sons, West Newbury, Mass. Silver Medal

for not more than ico varieties. duluth, minn. Mrs. E. L. Kimball, Duluth, Minn. Silver Medal.

1927. faribault, minn. Brand Peony Farms, Faribault, Minn. Silver Medal

for not more than ico varieties.

portland, oregon. A. W. Molin, Portland, Ore. Silver Medal as sweepstake prize.

seattle, wash. Sherbrook Gardens, Kirkland, Wash. Silver Medal for largest collection named peonies.

Sioux falls, S. dak. John W. Mundt, Sioux Falls, S. Dak. Silver Medal as sweepstake prize for peony classes.

boston, mass. T. C. Thurlow's Sons, West Newbury, Mass. Silver Medal as sweepstake for peony classes.

winnipeg, canada. V. D. Hurst, St. Vital, Manitoba. Silver Medal as sweepstake prize for peony classes,