Swenson Gardens

Yearly Archive: 2020


Greetings dear peony friends! Our webmaster is hard at working updating our 2021 website. Please be patient as I’ve given him a ton of new peonies to upload. This will be a record setting launch with 182 total varieties. That includes 86 new varieties of which 36 of those are our new exclusive peony seedlings.

Some of you may be asking, ‘what is a Swenson Gardens exclusive peony seedling’? Well, I’m glad you asked! Swenson Gardens continues to be the worlds largest peony hybridizer of new herbaceous/lactiflora/garden and intersectional/Itoh hybrid peonies. A peony seedling is an unnamed variety that we at Swenson Gardens has bred and also the last generation of Roger F Anderson’s peony seedlings that we purchased from him in 2013. All of our peony seedlings that we sell are painstakingly registered with the American Peony Society.

Make no mistake, our new peony seedlings are known around the world as the new peonies to have in your garden and in some cases, commercially. Take for example ‘Wonderous Delight’. This is the first early bloom time, full double, cut flower, no staking and very fragrant white peony in the world that was hybridized by Swenson Gardens. Intersectional/Itoh hybrid exclusive new peonies? ‘Tonka Purple’, hybridized by Roger F Anderson which is a semi-double to double purple. Again, first of its kind…in the world.

Yes we have been working overtime to release our world class peonies for 2021. Now if yours truly can be a good patient as I heal up from rotator cuff surgery on 19 November. Typing with one finger is driving me crazy but am thankful that I can still hold a cup of tea with my left arm…for the next 3 months?! Happy peony shopping, soon!


Hard to believe that Swenson Gardens 2020 peony season is coming to an end. Last day to order is September 25, 2020. Thank you to all our existing gardeners and new gardeners who have purchased our chemical free bare root peonies this season. We look forward to digging and shipping this last group of orders in the very near future. Our 2021 website will be opening later this year so check back for more info. Happy planting!


Swenson Gardens customers, its time to pick up your orders. Our teams have completed the first peony dig and all orders are ready for pick up on Friday, September 11th and Saturday, September 12th from 9am to 5PM. The address again is 10958 70th ST SW, Howard Lake, MN. Head north on our driveway towards our house as parking is available up here. Staff will be available to give you hands on planting instructions and talk peonies. If you haven’t decided where to plant them yet, make sure their site location has at least 8 hours of sunlight, good ventilation and for sure, a well drained location. Also on our website, we note the width of the peonies when mature. DO NOT plant in a location where they will not have room to grow. They do not like to be crowded out by other peonies, perennials, shrubs and trees. For sure do not plant them in a site location where a peony was planted before unless you excavate a cubic yard of original soil and replace with new black dirt or topsoil.

Yes peony gardeners, our annual Peony Barn Sale will be open during peony pick up days. Peonies are available on a first come first served basis so sorry there is no pre-buy or save options. We do not have a list of varieties available so plan to arrive early for best selections. Our Peony Barn Sale is open to the public so load up the mini-van with friends and family to enjoy discounted pricing on wholesale roots and some leftover retail roots. Only cash and personal checks accepted. Sorry but no credit and debit cards accepted.

Swenson Gardens peony starter fertilizer will be available to purchase onsite at $3.00 per bag. We suggest one bag per peony. Sorry but we do not ship our fertilizer so now is the time to buy during these days. This fertilizer is all chemical free and is similar to what we use in our peony fields. Only cash and personal checks accepted. Sorry but no credit and debit cards accepted.

Knowing the COVID 19 times we are living in, please do not enter our property if you are experiencing symptoms or have been exposed to this virus recently. If you cannot pick up your order due to symptoms during pick up days, please email us at: info@swensongardens.com to make other arrangements if you cannot find someone else to pick up your order.

Thank you again for choosing Swenson Gardens as your chemical free peony grower! We look forward to seeing you again!


Hard to believe we are getting to the end of our 2020 Swenson Gardens peony season. For those of you who ordered online, there were three choices for shipping and pick up. Let me explain in detail what that means and what we suggest for planting times in your USDA Growing Zones.

Option 1 – First ship date order by August 14, 2020. This option is the preferred time for gardeners in USDA Growing Zones 2 – 5 to plant their peonies. Orders will be shipped in mid-September. This is not the best time for gardeners in USDA Growing Zones 6 – 8 coastal due to the higher temps in those zones. Thus if you are in Zones 6 – 8 coastal and checked this date, we moved you to the second ship date. Since Zones 2 – 5 are cooler locations, this is the preferred time to plant peonies.

Option 2 – Second ship date order by September 25, 2020. This option is the preferred time for gardeners in USDA Growing Zones 6 – 8 coastal to plant their peonies. Orders will be shipped in mid-October. It is still ok though for gardeners in USDA Growing Zones 3 – 5 to order and plant their peonies before the ground freezes. Zone 2 orders would not be advisable due to the possibility of the ground being frozen. The last day to order for 2020 is September 25th.

Pick up – The last day to order for pick up is August 14, 2020. No pick up orders available after this date. Pick up days are September 11th and 12th, 2020 from 9a to 5P.

Thanks again for the opportunity of nurturing your peonies this year. Happy planting…soon!


As we look over the peony fields, our final days of Peony Field Days on June 12 & 13, 2020, should be spectacular with color. Yes the early, early to mid and mid bloom varieties are done or almost done, but the intersectionals and mid to late and late garden varieties are prime viewing. Oh and the weather forecast? Absolutely divine! Load up your vehicles and head to 10958 70th ST SW, Howard Lake, MN for a destination of pure peony bliss. We are open from 9a to 5P. As always, we are NOT open on Sunday, June 14, 2020. Looking forward to seeing you at Swenson Gardens Peony Field Days!


After an amazing Peony Field Days on June 5th and 6th, 2020, we are updating our inventory in real time as we take count of additional quantities for sale. Check back often to see if some of the varieties you wanted are again available for sale. Over the two glorious days of Peony Field Days, over 1500 people strolled through our production fields. What a sight to behold as young and old were able to view our peonies. More information will be forthcoming for bloom times in a couple of days. Some of the late varieties started to open today. With the 98 degrees F yesterday, that blast of heat really opened up additional colors in the fields. Our last two days of Peony Field Days will be held on Friday, June 12th and Saturday, June 13th, 2020. We are not open after that for public viewing. All ordering will be through our online store at SwensonGardens.com.


Swenson Gardens Peony Field Days for 2020 are ready for you to come and visit! We are open from 9a to 5P on Friday, June 5th and Saturday, June 6th, 2020. We are not open on Sunday, June 7th. With the two days of 90 degrees earlier this week, the early to mid and mid blooms are starting and/or at prime. Most of the intersectional/Itoh hybrid peonies have started their primary blooms. The very early and early peonies are done blooming. If you go back to my previous post on ‘Frosty Peonies’, yup, the two nights of a hard frost did reduce our buds and even nipped entire buds on plants that did not bloom. The foliage on the majority of our plants look great and on a small percentage of plants, not so good because of the frosts. Fields are very dry so no boots needed for these days. If you haven’t had a chance to read my previous post, please do especially for those who have never been here before. Looking forward to seeing you at Swenson Gardens Peony Field Days!

JUNE 5, 6, 12 & 13 PEONY FIELD DAYS – 9a to 5P

Calling all peony gardeners, collectors, photographers, artists, enthusiasts and novices, Swenson Gardens Peony Field Days is official! Yes, friends, it’s time to enjoy the peony blooms up close, but maybe not too personal. We are open on Friday, June 5th, Saturday, June 6th, Friday, June 12th and Saturday, June 13th from 9a to 5P. We will NOT be open on SUNDAY’S during those weekends. These four dates are weather dependent so any changes/cancellations will be noted on our blog, Facebook and Instagram pages, or you can call us at 763-350-2051 for more info.

Experts will be onsite for any peony related questions you may have! For those of you who may not be able to walk through the many rows of peonies, there will be a drop-off location next to the big white tent with better access to the display field. Additionally, you can drive up and down our driveway to view many of our varieties from the road. Please be careful driving while on our property as others will be walking on the driveway.

Location/Parking Information: For those of you who are new to Swenson Gardens Peony Field Days, our address is 10958 70th ST SW, Howard Lake, MN. The parking lot is a quick right hand turn upon entering our driveway. After you are parked, walk north on the driveway to our big white information tent. From there you will receive instructions on how best to make your way through our five, yes five, fields of peonies. Most of our fields include plants that are 2 and 3 years old and one of our fields has a few 4 year old intersectional/Itoh hybrid peonies. Yes folks, time to lace up your shoes and stretch your legs as you make your way up and down the peony rows, if are able to do so.

Ordering: For your safety and the safety of others, we will only be using online ordering for this year’s Peony Field Days. Please bring your smartphone or tablet to order as you walk through the field or sit in your car (no ordering and driving, please). We will not have in-person cash or check ordering as we have had in the past. However, if you do not have access to a smart phone, tablet or computer, please visit the information tent and we can order for you on one of our devices. As you can tell by the number of varieties that are already sold out, we have had a banner year of peony bare root sales, so if you have your eye on some new peony additions to your garden, we suggest ordering as soon so possible to ensure they are still in stock. Our online store keeps track of our inventory in real time so if you submit an order and it is rejected, it may mean the quantities you are ordering are not available or that variety is sold out.

COVID-19 Precautions: Please maintain a minimum distance of 6 feet between groups. Thankfully, our many fields make it easy to keep your distance from other people. Please do not enter our property if you are sick, have been knowingly exposed to anyone with COVID-19, or have any serious underlying health concerns that may put you at risk. In other words, use common sense. Masks are optional to wear, as the outdoor nature of the event significantly reduces transmission risk. However, if you would like to wear one, please feel free to do so. If you have any additional questions and concerns, please email us at info@swensongardens.com.

Insurance Disclaimer: Now the yearly disclaimer to satisfy our insurance company, Swenson Gardens, LLC, Becky and Keith Swenson and any of our employees and staff, will not be held liable for any injury, death, theft and personal property damage while visiting our property located at 10958 70th Street SW, Howard Lake, MN 55349 during Swenson Gardens Peony Field Days. You have voluntarily chosen to enter our property at your own risk. We want all visitors to be safe and considerate on our property.

Additional Information: Did we mention to the new visitors at Peony Field Days that we are dog friendly? Yes it is okay to bring your four legged family member as long as they are on a leash and are cleaned up after. Water is not available here so please bring the necessary means of hydration with you. Time for a family picnic? The lawn south and east of our house is the perfect picnic location, and offers great views of the pond and peony fields. Please be respectful of all our Purple Martins living in four different houses. My guess is we have at least 40 pairs of Martins so enjoy these aerobatic wonders in the sky. For parents with small children, please keep tabs on them in the peony fields and around our farm as we have electric fences for the fertilizer production team, aka our herd of Dexter cows. Finally, the areas north of our home are not open to the public.

Once we get closer to Peony Field Days we will update the blog with varieties in bloom and any changing conditions in the fields. Boots may be in order depending on rainfall and may be handy to bring with. Also if using any mosquito or tick repellent, please put on in the parking lot and do not spray while in the peony fields. We wouldn’t want to change the fact that we are the world’s largest chemical free peony grower by spraying anything in our peony fields, would we? We have a tie this year for our very early blooming varieties, Fantasia and Sprite. Congratulations Saunders varieties for the first color of the year. Can’t wait to see you at Swenson Gardens 2020 Peony Field Days!


Information, dates and times will be forthcoming on Swenson Gardens 2020 Peony Field Days. Timing of this is always tricky as we cannot predict what the weather will be for a normal spring peony bloom. In a normal spring, peak blooms occur the first few weeks of June. For those of you who are new to the Swenson Gardens peony family, Peony Field Days is a chance to walk through our production fields looking, smelling, photographing and even painting these amazing perennials. Our fields are only open two Friday’s and two Saturday’s in the spring. Most of our business is through our online store so if you are thinking about purchasing some bare root peonies for delivery or pick up this fall, you may want to consider ordering now as we are starting to sell out for this year. Stay tuned for more information on our website, Facebook and Instagram pages. Looking forward to seeing you on our peony farm!


For those of us who are blessed to garden in northern states and higher elevations, temperature swings can be massive during peonies emergence in the spring. Customers from those states have been very active via phone, emails and social media as of late. Perhaps I may indulge you on some facts that we have experienced here on our peony farm since 2002.

The number one question we have been receiving is, ‘should I cover my peonies during the colder temps at night?’ Knowing the fact that we cannot cover our peonies here on our farm, what happens to our peonies after a frost or hard freeze? I’ll drill this down into two areas of growth; 1) no buds showing and 2) blooms/buds showing.

  1. No buds – this stage is by far the least likelihood of any current year frost/freeze noticeable damage. Yes we have seen rows of peonies tip over only to perk up again when the temperatures warm up again. We do not fret when viewing this example knowing that the roots are relatively warm underground. Sometimes we see leaflets curl up and not tip over only to open up again when it warms up. Finally in conditions like multiple nights below freezing and temperatures down to 12 F to 14 F degrees, the leaflets may brown on their edges or become all brown. Again we do not fret as I will summarize later.
  2. Blooms and buds stage – hang on friends as yes you will see damage. Buds and blooms are the most sensitive to temperatures below freezing. What happens? If in bloom, blooms will wilt overnight and cease to exist. Buds are a little trickier as they may turn brown overnight or in a few days. Buds may or may not open or because of the lower temperatures, they may appear inferior and/or smaller than normal. We’ve had instances in our fields where the bloom quantity was reduced by 50% because of a hard freeze. Hard to view, yes, but, this is the peonies way of reserving their energy into root structure growth for next year.

The mentality of ‘oh no the sky is falling because of a frost or hard freeze on my peonies‘ is dear gardeners, ok. ‘Yes but will my peonies die?’ Emphatically, no. Here’s the deal, peonies are not like annuals and vegetables that only have a one and done root structure. Peonies have multiple root structures knowing the longevity of their lives and have certainly been there done that. Massive temperature changes, too much rain, drought, lawn mowers cutting them down unexpectedly, irrigation systems, trampled on, over spray from chemicals, fire and oh yes male dogs to name a few. When some of our peonies are hit by a frost or hard freeze, it is certainly less of a wow factor in our fields for that bloom season but guess what? In the fall our root development is massive and next year’s bloom is amass with more blooms than normal. Of course next year we continue to pray for ‘normal’ spring temperatures, just the right amount of rain and that our male dog ‘Redd’ would use a pine tree instead of a tree peony? Thank the good Lord we don’t have to fret about lawnmowers, irrigation systems and chemicals!

So dear peony gardeners, if you want to cover your peonies with a sheet or light blanket, please consider doing that or like us, it is what it is!