Paeonia - known to most as Peony - is a genus of around 36 herbaceous perennials or bushy deciduous subshrubs. They are native to Asia, Europe and Western North America and have been extensively cultivated in China (where they're known as Emperor Flowers) and Europe since the 15th Century. The ancient Greeks called the peony after Paeon (the physician to the Greek gods). They are classic mixed border plants, and architecturally magnificent. There is a wide variety of cultivars and hybrids with diverse growth habits, flower colours and forms available. Some have won the Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit and are included in the “Plants for Pollinators” initiative. Peonies have attractive, large, compound, deeply divided leaves and large, showy, bowl-shaped, often fragrant, flowers. They come in a wide range of colours, including pink, red, yellow and white, as well as different shapes, forms and sizes. In some types, the flowers are scented when open but close at night or in overcast conditions. Although in general they don't flower for very long, they are extremely rewarding when they do. They can be very long-lived (over 50 years), are reliable and easy to care for. The larger/older the plant, the more flowers will be produced. Usually seen in cottage, and other informal, garden settings, they are a 'must' for eye-catching late spring colour! Paeonia grow well in climates with a cold winter. They like a sheltered position in full or slightly filtered sunlight and rich, moisture-retentive, well-drained soil. Large-flowered cultivars may require support.