In the early 1900s’ Peonies were found in many gardens in the USA, but not in flower shops. Botanist J. Franklin Styer, a Pennsylvania Quaker, started growing and marketing Peonies to florists in New York, thinking the gentry of the time would be interested in purchasing these Victorian beauties, commercially. He was right.
Mr. Styer was no stranger to commercial development of botanical species. His father, Jacob Styer, successfully developed mushroom spawns brought in from England. Mr. Styer Sr. is credited with starting the mushroom industry in Pennsylvania, via research at Penn State University.
Kennett Square, Penn. is known as the Mushroom Capital of the World and as fate would have it, Styer’s Peonies grows some of its’ best flowers next to a Mushroom house in Kennett Square. Today, several relations of Styer can be found operating flower and greenhouse related operations in the Kennett Square area. Mr. Styer maintained his close relationship with Penn State, where he developed as many as 100 varieties of Peonies, many as yet unnamed.
J. Franklin Styer expanded the Peony business in the 1920s’ establishing several farms as far north as Geneva, NY. and as far south as North Carolina. Always thinking commercially, this wide span of growing seasons allowed the business to supply its’ primary markets throughout the growing season – early May through late June.
The core personel of Styer’s Peonies have worked together for many years, and the baton has been passed from generation to generation of dedicated grower, thus giving us a continuous link to J. Franklin Styer’s original work.
Today, Styer’s Peonies harvests over 200 varieties of Peony grown on a combined 120 acres in seven locations, ranging from Federalsburg, Maryland to Geneva, New York.