Tours! Art! History! Peonies!
2023 APS Convention
“Legends and Legacies”
May 31 – June 4, 2023
Syracuse, New York
There are two changes to the Exhibition Schedule this year.
Convention Registration & Lodging
To make lodging arrangements, Go HERE. You will be required login to the Member Portal before viewing this page.
Overview (excerpt from Q4 Bulletin, see schedule for most up-to-date information)
What a treat to be able to meet in person again this year! We are now looking forward to another exciting national convention of the American Peony Society to be held in picturesque upstate New York. We will be giving attendees the opportunity to visit two historic gardens associated with VIP peony hybridizers and two or three contemporary peony farms/nurseries. The peony exhibition will be held at the convention hotel, the Crowne Plaza, 701 East Genesee Street, Syracuse.
Festivities will begin on Wednesday, May 31, with registration and snacks in the hospitality room at the hotel. You will need to arrive on Wednesday to be ready to hop on a tour bus early on Thursday, June 1.
Our first stop June 1st will be the gardens of Francis Millard in Geneseo, a hidden gem offering rarely seen tree peony cultivars. Visitors will enjoy a wide number of Daphnis varieties, including rare cultivars such as ‘Thermopylae,‘ ‘Sappho,‘ ‘Avra’ and ‘Persephone.‘ Francis also grows twenty-five Saunders peonies including ‘Silver Sails’ and ‘Rose Flame,‘ as well as her own Moutan crosses.
We then journey to Linwood Gardens near Pavilion, NY, the country home of William Gratwick, now managed by his daughters Lee and Lucy Gratwick, granddaughter Clara Mulligan, and great grandchildren including Holly Watson. Bill Gratwick was one of the first Americans to import quantities of woody peonies from Japan; from these he made several introductions, perhaps the best-known being ‘Guardian of the Monastery’. He also grafted plants for A.P. Saunders and was entrusted to carry Saunders’ F1 lutea hybrids on to further generations.
As a sculptor and patron of the arts, Gratwick met the painter Nassos Daphnis in New York City and invited him to visit his estate. Daphnis eventually took over the lutea breeding program, becoming the premier woody peony hybridizer in his day with 50 cultivars including ‘Leda’, still one of the most popular woody peonies. You will also enjoy the architectural features of the estate – a walled garden, an Italianate garden, fountains, a chapel, and numerous sculptures created by Gratwick. A box lunch will be provided.
On Friday, June 2, the first tour will take us to Hamilton College in Clinton, NY, where A. P. Saunders taught, lived, and bred peonies. Although his peonies left Hamilton College when his daughter Silvia closed the nursery, the collection has been painstakingly re-assembled in the Grant Garden by horticulturists Don Croft and Dan Rouillier. Starting in 1996 with an emphasis on the woody peonies, the Grant Garden now features 53 of his 80 woody introductions and 96 of his 184 herbaceous. Because the soil is rather heavy clay new raised beds have been prepared in recent years.
While at Hamilton College we will have the opportunity to view the exterior of Saunders House, now over 200 years old and in use as a student residence, and the Hamilton College cemetery where he, wife Louise, and two of his children are buried. We have also arranged to view some of the material in the archives with archivist Jeremy Katz. And, oh yes, we will have lunch on campus.
Then we will be off again to tour Lyndaker Farms, a relatively new peony nursery near Salisbury Center, owned by Cate and Jason Crawford who decided to escape from life in the Big Apple. They grow a variety of herbaceous, intersectional, and woody peonies and sell online. We will return to the hotel for socializing in the hospitality room, dinner on your own, or grooming peonies for the exhibition.
Saturday, June 3rd, will be spent at the hotel. The morning will be filled with final exhibition preparation and the afternoon with exhibition judging and seminars including Hamilton College professor Wei-Jen Chang who will present his work on the DNA of Saunders’ herbaceous peonies. Jeremy Katz, archivist for Hamilton College, with present information about archiving Saunders papers and records. Dr. David Michener, APS Director and Matthaei Botanical Garden Curator, and Dr. Nastassia Vlasava, genomic researcher, will present information relative to their work in Peony DNA and Viruses. The evening will include a banquet and annual meeting and conclude with the always exciting live auction.
Sunday, June 4th, will be a day to enjoy the peony show and attend a few more seminars. Nick Maycher, APS Director, will provide tips on peony photography from Prairie Peonies. Interested in growing peonies as cut flowers – join Brandie Orchard, APS Director for a presentation looking at the many facets to be considered. Jill Stevens, APS Director, will share peony growing basics and APS President Nate Bremer will discuss his efforts to bring some of the rare Saunders and Daphnis peonies back into production.
Visit with friends before helping to dismantle the peony exhibition or starting on your homeward journey. If you are traveling by car, you will be able to visit some additional peony gardens in the area.