Back in 1923 the American Peony Society started awarding the society’s Gold Medal to peony cultivars that the committee considered truly outstanding—a tradition continued almost every year since. As a result, as of 2016, fifty-six peony cultivars are now designated Gold Medal Recipients.
Some gardeners become completely smitten by peonies and it becomes a lifelong passion. They collect peonies that show off the different forms, from single, semi-double, double and the Japanese or anemone form. A few may even try their hands at breeding their own new cultivars.
Before long their whole year revolves around that precious month in early summer when the peonies bloom!
Bill Countryman was one such peony collector. Always a naturalist and environmentalist, in 1991 at age 71, Bill decided to follow his true passion and create an outstanding peony collection on his farm, which was nestled in the hills above Northfield, Vermont. Within a decade, and supported by his loving wife Anne, Bill had amassed a world-class peony collection with over 1500 different peony cultivars -- including every Gold Medal recipient to date. Today, the farm is under new stewardship, and every June the breathtakingly beautiful display of peonies at Bill's farm continues to delight all who visit.