28 Mar Peony Paradise
A look at Peony’s Envy, New Jersey’s Flower Farm
Kathleen Gagen and her husband moved their family from China to Bernardsville, New Jersey; where she traded her life as an international communications consultant for life as a farmer. As a mother raising school-age children, her goal was to find work that allowed her to be close to home and maintain a flexible schedule. With a breathtaking 7.4 acres of land that was under farmland assessment (a state initiative requiring owners to dedicate land to agriculture), Kathleen was faced with a tremendous task. Little did she know that she was on her way to cultivating one of the largest peony collections in the Northeast, Peony’s Envy.
Over the next 8 years, Kathleen attempted to grow everything from peaches to cherries to irises. It was not until she decided to plant peonies that she found success. Kathleen began by planting one peony crop, eventually growing her newfound hobby into a thriving business.
Today, Peony’s Envy celebrates their 10th anniversary. Open to the public, Kathleen can be found interacting with customers from near and far as they admire the ravishing display- more than 200 cultivars of tree and herbaceous peonies from all around the world. Kathleen holds private events on her farm, such as birthday parties and bridal showers, where guests are welcomed by a home cooked meal prepared by Kathleen herself. Workshops are held regularly on the farm allowing Kathleen to have one on one interaction with her customers and offer her gardening expertise. In addition, Kathleen is heavily involved in flower shows, both nationally and internationally. Both workshops and shows allow her to teach others about a field that she has become extremely knowledgeable about. It was her corporate experiences that she attributes to her success as a self-employed business owner.
Kathleen was able to take the skills that she acquired as a consultant to transition into this new chapter in her life. However, she does not plan on slowing down anytime soon. Her busy schedule of private events, workshops, and traveling will be met with a new expansion of the business. Kathleen is currently working with local artists to produce jewelry, prints and photography to be sold on the property. These products will be an extension of her existing brand, featuring all things peonies.
We are excited to see what seed Kathleen will plant next!
About Peony’s Envy:
Peony’s Envy is a nursery and display garden in Bernardsville, New Jersey within easy access of New York City and Philadelphia. Peony’s Envy offers one of the most extensive collections of tree, herbaceous and intersectional peonies in the Northeast. The gardens are laid out over an 7-acre property with trails that meander throughout the peony collections. Four major types of peonies are highlighted in the garden: woodland, tree, herbaceous, and intersectional. Over 700 different cultivars planted in the garden, each of which will bloom for a period of 7-10 days over a six week bloom period. The bloom sequence opens with the woodland and tree peonies and is followed by the herbaceous and intersectional bloom. The largest array of color comes during the herbaceous peony bloom, which weather dependent, often corresponds with Memorial Day. Cool weather will prolong the bloom, hot weather and heavy rain will shorten the bloom.