This peony has a long history in Finland, Sweden and Norway, and possibly back to the early 19th century in England. The registrant (Marstein (2013)) believes it fits the description given for P. paradoxa ssp. fimbriata in Robert Sweet’s “The British Flower Garden” (1823-25). Other possibilities are P. officinalis ssp. huthii and P. humilis flore plena. This was back in the time when plants were given Latin binomial names regardless whether they were botanical species or garden varieties. Some of those garden plants have retained their Latin names through continued common usage, but not this one. It appears not to have been distributed commercially after the end of the 19th century and is not known to exist in commerce today. Recent distribution has been through sharing between gardeners, and by being passed down in families, in some cases viewed as family gardening heirlooms. There is no known cultivar name. Instead, it goes by numerous garden names from region to region where it grows. In Norway it is known as Karen Hvams pion. Humilis-pionen. Lillepionen (The small peony). In Finland it goes by Juhannuspioni (St. John Peony or Midsummer Peony), and there is a small nursery there that is now offering it for sale. In both countries it often has no name at all beyond that given to it by the families in which it has been passed down through succeeding generations. It is also known from Sweden, but in gardening literature of recent times it has not been reported outside these three countries. For cultivar classification purposes it is placed with the herbaceous hybrids. Its closest relative in cultivation (based on foliage) is P. officinalis ‘Anemoniflora Rosea’ (or any of the spelling variations of the name) which it very closely resembles in plant and habit but for the double flowers. It also has a lot in common with P. officinalis ssp. huthii, but here too there are differences. Its bloom season corresponds to that P. officinalis ‘Rubra Plena’. It has an ANEMONE to BOMB flower form with one flower per stem. Flowers are reported to be 12-14 cm. (4¾-5½ inches) in diameter and 8 cm. (3 inches) in height held 5-10 cm. (2-4 inches) above the foliage. Guard petals flat or reflexed. Flowers are pink purple (RHS 71B), fading slightly to RHS N74C – RHS 68A as they age. The faint, sweet scent is different from that of P. officinalis ‘Rubra Plena’ or ‘Rosea Plena’. Carpels are always present, 2-3 in number, yellow green colour (RHS 145A), evenly and densely haired, with normal shaped pink stigmas (RHS 63B). Staminodes are present, the same colour as the petals or slightly darker, sometimes edged yellow. Seedlings are sometimes found usually only with single flower form. Upper leaf surfaces are slightly glaucous, undersides are hairy. Average height at maturity is 50-60 cm. (20-24 inches). Stems are reasonably strong, well able to support the flowers. The name derives from the fact that it appears to be found only in the Scandinavian or Nordic countries, and that it seems a paradox that it remains in cultivation so long after it has disappeared from both nursery offerings and gardening literature. Also a paradox is that it still has only limited distribution in a few core areas after that same passage of time. The history, occurrence and description of this peony were discussed by Rea Peltola & Vesa Koivu in their book “Pionit” (Tammi, 2007). Subsequent articles were published in The Plantsman, Royal Horticultural Society, London. (Rea Peltola (2008) “The midsummer peony of Finland”. Vol.7 Part 2:114-117 and Mari Marstein (2013) “The midsummer peony revisited.” Vol. 12 Part 1:47-49. The name was first published in the latter publication. There is a nomenclatural standard held at Gamle Hvam Museum.
Gamle Hvam Museum / Marstein