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Wisconsin State Horticultural Society / Annual report of the Wisconsin State Horticultural Society for the year ending July 1, 1921
Vol. LI (1921)

Brand, A. M.
The modern peony,   pp. 107-122 PDF (3.9 MB)

Page 108

About the year 1800, English traders brought roots of different
varieties from China to England and not long afterwards roots
were taken from England to France. And it is in France that
the history of the modem peony really begins.
Although China and Japan must have had thousands of vari-
eties at the time the original importations -took place from there
to Europe, I do not find any variety of value that ever came from
those countries with the exceptions of a very few Japs that have
come to us of late years.
Tfie French people are a wonderful people in their love for
the beautiful. They were immediately taken with the beauty of
the peony. The French nurseryman is second to none in the
world. He is past master of his art. He took advantage at
once of the great natural possibilities which the peony held out
for improvement. Patronized in his labors and urged on by
royalty and the rich, it was not many years before a score or more
of flower breeders had brought about such a wonderful improve-
ment in the peony that the craze spread to Belgium, Holland,
England, and America.
Now, during a century and a quarter of time, a flower so al-
luring as the peony is and so easily improved as it is by cross
fertilization, in the hands of so many people, is bound to produce
a multitude of varieties. For, you must remember, the peony
does not come true from seed. It does not reproduce itself in
this way. Every seed produces a different kind of flower. Many
originators have either not possessed the power of good selec-
tion, or if they did have the power, they did not employ it in
choosing their varieties to name and place on the market for sale.
The result is that we now have from a thousand to two thou-
sand varieties, some good, some bad, and some of indifferent
quality. You can easily see the confusion such a vast number
of varieties would lead to and the position the person is in who
takes up the catalogue of some of the great growers who list from
four to eight hundred varieties for sale. I had before me when
I wrote this article a catalogue of one of our great houses and, on
looking through its pages, I came to LeCygne and Kelway's
Glorious. Then I passed -on to the descriptions of Duc de Well-
ington and Whitleyii and, to save me, I could not form any
opinion at all from the descriptions as to which two of the four
were the better flowers, and still the facts are that LeCygne and
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