Experience Minnesota’s Finest Peonies!
Buses leave the Hotel at approximately 8:00 AM. First stop will be at Swenson Gardens in Howard Lake, MN. A box lunch will be served at noon.
Next garden will be in Benson, MN at Jill Stevens.
Return to the Hotel at approximately 6:00 PM.
Water and snacks available on the busses.
Buses leave the Hotel at approximately 8:00 AM. First stop will be at Sorrentino Gardens in Chaska, MN.
Next stop is the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska, MN. A box lunch will be served at noon.
Return to the Hotel at approximately 3:00 PM.
Water and snacks available on the busses.
Jill Stevens Gardens
Jill Stevens has been in love with peonies since childhood. When she moved to her current location in 1993, her backyard was a vacant lot. Jill decided that if she planted peonies around the border, people would respect her yard. Now it is filled with over 1200 varieties of peonies. She enjoys caring for her peonies and keeping meticulous records of their progress. ‘Orange Glory’ (Auten 1956) is the name of her favorite peony. She is passionate about showing and sharing her peonies.
Jill is a Master Gardener, former Master Gardener State Advisory Board Member, current American Peony Society Board Director, current Minnesota Peony Society Vice President, APS Award of Landscape Merit judge and Co-chair, APS auction Co-chair, and field editor for The APS Bulletin. Her garden has appeared on Pioneer Public Television’s Prairie Yard and Garden program on 2 occasions. Her peonies have been featured in print in The Senior Perspective, The APS Bulletin, Local Newspapers, Minnesota Farm Guide, and The Northern Gardener.
Howard Lake, MN
The journey into peonies for Keith and Becky Swenson began two generations ago with their grandparents’ love of all flowers. Becky’s grandmother was the first president of the Ely, MN gardening club and Keith’s grandparents were avid gardeners in NW Wisconsin. That love helped form Swenson Gardens in 2002. What started out as cultivating a 2-acre plot of land in Delano, MN, blossomed into the purchase of a 40-acre farm near Howard Lake, MN in 2008.
This generational peony affair exploded in 1998 after meeting Roger F. Anderson. Keith and Roger developed a friendship and mentor relationship. In 2013, Swenson Gardens purchased his last generation of intersectional hybrid, herbaceous, Lactiflora and tree peony seedlings.
Fast forward to 2023, Swenson Gardens is now considered the world’s largest chemical-free peony grower and hybridizer of new peonies. Keith and their long-time employee Dan Zabel, are often seen tip toeing through the peonies hybridizing Roger’s seedlings as well as their generations of seedlings. Becky is involved in the day-to-day business of customer service, social media and providing peony presentations to regional garden clubs.
Swenson Gardens is delighted to invite the 2024 APS national convention to their peony farm. Bring your camera as their peonies will be at peak bloom during the convention. For more information you can visit their website SwensonGardens.com as well as Facebook and Instagram.
Located just outside Chaska, MN on several acres, David and Linette have been collecting and growing peonies since the early 1990’s. Linette’s love for gardening began in her youth when she so proudly would help in her grandparents’ lake cabin gardens. Their first peonies included a generic red, white and pink purchased at a local garden center. Always purchase your peonies from a reputable grower, the peonies turned out to be two whites and a pink with no names.
In 1994 they discovered commercial growers with named varieties and the collecting began in earnest. There are now about 750 plants that include over 475 varieties as well as along with tree peony grafts and seedlings. The collection includes many Minnesota breed plants and new hybrids selected for breeding, cut flowers and just general enjoyment. The peonies are located in throughout the property in landscaped gardens. Their first APS exhibition was in the mid 90’s when fellow Minnesotan’s, Gus and Char Sindt, Floyd and Eloise Kimball and Ben Gowen were still active members. This led to many years of showing peonies at the MPS shows and APS exhibitions, running peony auctions, and now currently organizing the APS Convention Exhibitions.
David is a past Minnesota Peony Society (MPS) President, current Board Director, and current American Peony Society (APS) Vice President. Linette is a past Minnesota Peony Society (MPS) President, current Treasurer/Membership, and current American Peony Society (APS) Board Director. Both have been involved with MPS and APS for over 25 years. They have been featured in The MPS and APS Bulletins, and The Northern Gardener. They have been accused of being a tad bit peony eccentric and this passion is reflected in their collection.
MINNESOTA LANDSCAPE ARBORETUM
Lang Peony Walk
The Arboretum has three species of peony, 191 cultivars and a total of 240 specimens. The collection begun in 1961, just four years after the Arboretum opened. In 1983 it was moved as part of the development of a series of gardens adjacent to the Snyder Building, and at that time was named the Lang Peony Walk.
The initial acquisition was nineteen cultivars obtained from Sylvia Saunders of Clinton, NY. The remaining peonies were collected from Minnesota nurseries. You will find peonies from hybridizers like Lins, Brand, Tischler and Franklin. Lins had a farm in nearby Cologne, MN where there is currently a collection of most of his introductions. Another prominent grower was Tischler. In 1956 the Tischler brothers purchased the Brand nursery, which lasted until the late 1970s. Bob Tischler then started Tischler Peony Garden, introducing around 40 named cultivars. The Arboretum acquired some of these varieties over the years. Many of the Tischler varieties also found their way into local nurseries like the former Countryside Gardens in Delano and Hidden Springs Nursery, formerly owned by Harvey Buchite. The connection to Minnesota hybridizers continues to be an important emphasis.
The Arboretum also has an impressive archive in its library of old Brand catalogs and other documents from the Minnesota growers.