I have a number of different types of Peonies and they bloom in sequence: Woodland, species, tree, herbaceous and lastly, intersectional (Itoh). Every one of them is already visible to a greater or lesser degree depending on the type. But even at this early stage it is easy to recognize the different ones by their leaves and growing tips.
Most people grow Peonies for the flowers and I certainly love the blooms. But over the years I think I have come to enjoy this early stage and the late stage with seedpods more than the flowers. There is so much drama in the color with these red stems ranging from carmine to Badger red to burgundy. And the leaves are equally individual. Just look at what I mean.
Molly the Witch
Paeonia 'Burnished Bronze' (herbaceous). I always let some stems remain all winter so I know where to look — and not step — come spring.
Paeonia rockii type (tree)
Paeonia japonica. Peony authority Martin Page says this variety is not very vigorous but mine is massive and much taller than he suggests. It's stunning at absolutely every stage.
Paeonia obvata willmottiae. This one always reminds me of Dicentra spectabilis (bleeding heart) when it first appears.
Paeonia mairei (Chinese peony). This was the first to appear this spring.
Paeonia 'Soft Salmon Joy" I include this photo to emphasize how indestructible Peonies are. Last summer when Mark and Matt were working on our new driveway, the guys decided a large rock should go in the old border right where this Peony was growing. So they quickly dug it and plunked into a plastic pot with a little dirt where it sat all summer. I replanted it in the new bed in August where it looked pretty sad. Now here it is coming back as if nothing happening. It will get more sun in this location and be more visible so the move appears to have worked out all around.