The best Paeony this year (for us in Tipperty) is Sarah Bernhardt. It is a pink double bloom Paeonia lactiflora
This seems to be one of the most common paeonies for sale in the UK. Every garden centre and mail-order place has Sarah Bernhardt for sale and it was one of the three plants in the discounted paeony collections I bought from J Parker along with Shitrley Temple a white double Paeony and Karl Rosenfield a double red. I don't think I would be far out in saying that these three are the most widely available paeonies in the UK at the moment. And I'm not surprised - it does really well after a mild winter and has survived the worst winter we have had for forty years. If we don't get a one hundred winter with twenty foot of snow on the ground for three months then I expect this paeony to keep on for twenty or more years. What a great investment that plant has proved to be.
Below is a description from the mail order company Crocus.
Position: full sun or partial shade
Soil: fertile, moisture-retentive yet well-drained
Rate of growth: average
Flowering period: June to July
Flower colour: pink
Other features: ideal as cut flowers
Hardiness: fully hardy
Enormous, rose pink, fragrant, double summer flowers and mid green leaves. This magnificent, late-flowering, pale pink peony has been popular since the Edwardian era. To support the large flowers stake in spring using bamboo canes or metal link stakes. An excellent specimen plant for a partially sunny border.
Garden care: Deadhead after flowering. In early spring apply a balanced slow-release fertiliser
The flower has been popular since Edwardian times - that is from 1901 (when Queen Victoria died) to 1910 When Edward VII died (maybe up to 1914 when WW1 started) - so 100 years ago. This, for Britain, was a time of peace, prosperity and empire and one of the first periods of celebrity culture. That's how I knew the name Sarah Bernhardt - the Divine Sarah - she was one of the very first superstar celebrities spanning the late Victorian era, the Edwardian and the start of records and movies, the first world war and after before dying in 1923. She spent the last 8 years of her life with a wooden leg but that didn't stop her acting on stage or screen. Her final film was actually made on her death bed, almost. What a gal.
The wooden leg comes up in trivia quizzes occasionally and that is how I knew the name; that and the name "The Divine Sarah." It has a great ring to it and the nickname still resonates a hundred years later. Now that is some powerful marketing.