May 31, 2011

Itoh Peony 'Keiko' aka 'Pink Double Dandy'

Intersectional peonies - crosses between tree peonies and herbaceous peonies - are becoming very popular of late. Here are some photos of 'Keiko' (otherwise known as 'Pink Double Dandy'), which I bought this spring from my local nursery in a 5 gallon Monrovia pot.

These intersectionals are ridiculously expensive. Most catalogs and websites seem to price them around $100, which is about what I paid. At least I brought home a seriously big plant (above) for that seriously big price! Although my peony was in the same size pot as several other Itoh hybrids, it was two or three times as large. Who knows whether my plant was just older than the others or if 'Keiko' is especially vigorous.

Here is a series of photos showing how the flowers progress from bud to full bloom. You can see above that the buds aren't perfectly round balls like herbaceous peony buds. One nice thing about these Itoh types is that their stems are strong enough to hold the flowers aloft without staking, even when in full bloom.

The color changes as the flower develops. Here it's a vivid cool pink, but it soon fades.

The flowers on my new plant are not as full as the ones pictured on the Monrovia website here. It will be nice to see how they fill out in coming years as the plant settles into its spot and develops plenty of roots.

The color of the flowers is sophisticated and not easy to describe. Maybe vivid rose fading to tapestry or vintage rose would be the best description. There seems to be just a hint of pale yellow underlying the pink, which becomes more apparent as the flower ages.

The stamens are bright golden yellow and are very prominent when the flower is fully open. The flowers on my plant seem to open and close through the day, depending on how sunny and warm it is.

I've read comments from other gardeners about how it is difficult to place pinkish Itohs into the garden because their color is different from the clear pinks of herbaceous peonies. I agree with that assessment.

It's a very pretty pink though, and would make sophisticated floral arrangements (if one can figure out what other flowers to put with it). I'll probably cut some to bring inside now that I've taken pictures for this post.

Soon I will post about my 'Kopper Kettle' Itoh peony, which has just one bud waiting to open. If you find yourself wanting more information about Itohs, check out Monrovia's collection here or the Intersectional page from Swenson Gardens here.


  1. I love peonies so much, but I have never grown them before. In fact, they are not the most common plants here in Australia! And are rather expensive...
    Do you have any cultivation tips? I might have a go at growing them this spring.

  2. This plant is just beautiful and your photos are great. The colors are so brilliant.

  3. I'm starting a collection of the intersectionals myself and will be posting on them once the blooms start to open. They are magnificent and my favorite is Bartzella. In fact I like that one so much, I'm up to four of them. The fellow who owns the nursery where I purchased them told me that the hybridizer (I believe that might be Roger Anderson?) had a plant of Bartzella that had 300 blooms... fact or fiction I'm not sure... but they are gorgeous! I was considering some of the Monrovia plants myself... your is spectacular!

  4. That was a fun education! I did not know there are other types of peonies besides herbaceous, pretty cool! I'd say (based on my color monitor) that the color could be deemed 'antique rose' something old fashioned and a wonderful compliment to anyone who love's a cottage or shabby chic look :) Cheers ~

  5. It's so hot here, peonies don't do well, so I don't know much about these plants. But this one is really gorgeous. Looks like paper almost.

  6. Phoebe, peonies need some winter chill, so none of my gardener friends had them when we lived in mild California. I'm sure some parts of Australia would be too warm in winter. I think they do OK up to zone 8. There is good cultural info on the Swenson Gardens FAQ's page:
    Jenni, I think antique rose is a good description. Dusky is a good word for the color, too. Definitely good in a shabby chic environment, but also works for something more sophisticated.

  7. Glad you have enough to bring into the house to enjoy...what a beauty.

  8. If peonies need winter chill that explains why we don't see many in Australia. But I am aware they seem to have something like a cult following. This one is very pretty. I must say I never pay a lot for an individual plant because then I would worry about it and spoil it instead of the tough remorseless love I inflict on my plants.

  9. Hi,

    I just found your blog and since I'm nutty about gardening too, I'll be following along :)

    My garden is only 2 years old so it still looks like 'dots on a brown background'. I'm looking forward to gardening with you a maybe learning a thing or two!


  10. Just Beautiful!! Seriously serious thought going into these peonies! :-)

  11. I wish I still had room to plant it... Very nice !

  12. They are gorgeous and I'm definitely giving them a go this spring if u can source any. We get fairly frosty - worth a try for such a beautiful flower.

  13. Nice article, thanks for the information.

  14. May I just say: Glorious!!! your photos are so clear, crisp and


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