Once the fascination with peonies takes a hold, it won’t let go that easily. This is the story of Ferdinando Cocchi, who fulfilled his big dream of 30 years ago by growing the most fantastic peonies with his daughter.
Thiry years ago, Ferdinando discovered peonies. But at that time, Italy was all about lilies. So Ferdinando dedicated himself to growing big lilies, something that the Roman climate is extremely well suited for. Recently, with peonies growing in popularity, Ferdinando returned to his great love.
Ferdinando and his daughter Doriana run the company together, and they’re well matched when it comes to their enthusiasm for peonies. Ferdinando is truly a bit crazy about them: he began planting peonies around his house. The only thing he wants to see is peonies, peonies, peonies! His collection began modestly, with a few varieties, but soon became very impressive: Coral Charm, Coral Sunset, Odile (of extraordinary quality), Sarah Bernhardt, Bowl of Cream, Madame Claude Tain, Etched Salmon, Old Faithful, Salmon Chiffon and Reine Hortense. Soon Florence Nicholls, Bridal Shower and Marguerite Gerard will be added to the list.
Ferdinando and Doriana are experimenting, looking for favorable combinations in climate, soil and varieties. In sunny Italy the flowers get more light and not as much cold. Some flowers do well in those conditions, others less so. You can count on Ferdinando to find out what works, and to get the best out of all ‘his’ species with a lot of passion and inventiveness.
Ferdinando wants to cut 4 million (!) stems, as soon as possible. He’s not afraid to dream big. The market is growing fast, both at home and abroad, and Ferdinando sees demand grow year upon year. “A lot is still possible in Italy”, says Ferdinando, “if producers keep experimenting with varieties and keep specializing in Italian peonies.” He himself sets a good example, constantly looking for successful varieties and innovative solutions.
If every Italian grower is as creative and coureagous as Ferdinando, we’ll predict a very bright future for the Italian peonies indeed. Among the first happy steps is a wonderful collaboration between My Peony Society and this ambitious grower. Bellissimo!