Pionia virtutem habet occultam…Trees Peonies have magic… -Arnoldus Villanova (1235-1313).
Linwood Gardens originated in the first decade of the 20th century as part of the country estate of William H. Gratwick II. In 1935, Gratwick’s youngest son, William H. Gratwick III, teamed with A. P. Saunders, a chemistry professor at Hamilton College, in Clinton, New York, and the two began propagating and grafting new tree peony hybrids (especially Paeonia suffruticosa and Paeonia delavayii crosses). Saunders and Gratwick continued their informal partnership for the next twenty years, until Saunders’ death. By the 1960s, the Gratwick Tree Peony Nursery grafted and sold tree peonies worldwide to many notable gardens. After the nursery went out of business in the 1970s, the display and nursery plants were maintained, but no longer propagated.
The property, now owned by a family trust, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is open to the public on weekends when the tree peonies are in bloom. The most significant threats facing Linwood Gardens include limited resources and the age of the peony specimens. The historic cement walls that provide essential structure to the garden are failing. If the proper care is not prescribed, these peony marvels will begin to decline rapidly.