A celebration of full-blown spring, this area reaches its peak in late May. The peonies in this area are a horticultural treasure representing the best of the yellow, bronze, peach, and maroon Saunders peonies as well as an unparalleled planting of white, pink, and red herbaceous varieties selected with particular attention to flower form.
When creating this garden, H. F. du Pont honored the work of Dr. A. P. Saunders, one of the great peony hybridizers of the 20th century. In addition to the herbaceous peonies, the garden features the lesser-known tree peony. (The term tree is misleading since they are actually shrubs that grow 4 to 6 feet tall.)
Du Pont also added plants with similar flowering times, including beauty bush (Kolkwitzia amabilis), with its fountain of cascading pink blossoms. The lavender flowers of Chinese lilac (Syringa x chinensis) and Henry’s lilac (S. x henryi) also work well here. Surrounding the garden are additional complementary plants. Pink-flowering Weigela florida var. venusta, near the garden steps, harmonizes with the striking red-wine azalea (Rhododendron obusum ‘Amoenum’). A pink crabapple named in honor of du Pont (Malus ‘Henry F. du Pont’) flourishes along the path to the Visitor Center, as do Kurume azalea Coral Bells (Rhododendron ‘Coral Bells’).
The charming Latimeria Summerhouse at one end of the garden was purchased from an estate in Wilmington, Delaware, in 1929, when Marian Coffin designed the Peony Garden.