No matter what time of year, Homer is visually stunning, with soaring mountains, forests, glaciers, ocean, and beaches. But the long days of summer that bring the abundant blooms of Alaskan peonies add splashes of brilliant color across the landscapes creating a jaw-dropping sight to behold.
During the peak of the season, from mid-July to mid-August, the 22 hours of daylight result in larger and even sharper shades of color from vibrant pinks and corals to fuchsias, along with white flowers that when combined together create a striking contrast.
Peonies are so beloved that a Homer Peony Celebration was created to honor them for two weeks around the middle of July. Visitors not only enjoy the wonderful fragrance of the flowers but can take part in a centerpiece workshop. They’re held right on a peony farm and taught by a Homer, Alaska-based wedding florist. It’s a hands-on design experience where you’ll get design tips and learn how to create a gorgeous centerpiece from a bucket of blooms and foliage grown on the farm, including a variety of colorful peonies.
But one of the must things to do if you’re here during the peony season is to take a peony farm tour. Homer is sometimes referred to as the “City of Peonies.” The harsh winters here make it hard to believe that a tiny bud could thrive and even flourish with such gusto in a short period. They require exceptionally cool, dry soil, but despite the challenges, this small town is home to over two dozen peony farms.
Alaska Perfect Peony is located at the Shoultz Family Farm, carved out of the Alaskan wilderness over a half-century ago. The first 14 acres were purchased in 1968, with the family starting out by fixing up an abandoned old cabin, living with no electricity or running water while raising four children. They eeked out an existence the hard way, purchasing surrounding properties over the years to grow the farm to about 27 acres.
Fritz Creek Gardens was born in 1996, and a decade later, flowers were grown here for the cut flower market. As the peony fields matured and expanded, they decided to focus purely on those flowers, selling the nursery to learn all about the aspects of the cut flower business by traveling the world, studying all about growing, harvesting, packing, and more.
Today, some 100,000 peony stems are processed in just one season and they just might be among the most beautiful grown on Earth. Now operating for over 50 years, Rita Jo Shoultz, who helped pioneer peony farming in Homer, is the main gardener and passionately shares her knowledge with guests during guided farm tours that include making and taking home your own bouquet.
The Best Time
If you want to see the peonies and learn all about them at Rita’s farm, you’ll need to be here in July, with tours available every Friday between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., July 10th through the 25th in 2022.
What Others Are Saying
Helena W. wrote about the Alaska Perfect Peony tour, “Very friendly and informative. We loved our bouquet and the prices were unbeatable. Thank you!”
Karissa from Minnesota noted, “I would highly suggest this tour to any flower lover! You’ll have an amazing experience and gain valuable knowledge about these peonies and how they advanced here in Homer! bonus – you’ll get to take home a beautiful bouquet!”
Those most interested in buying might be interested in Sarah C.’s review: “I work with suppliers and wholesalers around the world and am thrilled with the quality of the blooms and the level of service. I look forward to purchasing every year!”
Joslyn Peonies is a family-run farm that grows and sells peonies, headed by flower farmer Betty Joslyn. Rather than retiring and twiddling her thumbs, she says she didn’t want to stay idle so she made the decision to turn to farming instead. Although it is hard work, often leaving her covered with dirt, “Betty the farmer,” believes despite all that and even in the rain, it’s still better than being inside. She loves working in the soil and reaping all the health benefits that come with it, for mind, body, and soul.
The Joslyn Family Farm offers enchanting views of Kachemak Bay, Lower Cook Inlet, and the mountains from 1200 feet above sea level on Diamond Ridge. A visit brings the chance to meet flower farmer Betty herself and learn how she grows peonies in Homer’s unique climate. You’ll also get a personal tour that includes a modest wine and beer reception afterward.
The Best Time
The farm’s peonies are available for sale from late July through September, and sometimes later depending on the length of the growing season that can vary from year to year. Guided farm tours are offered between July 10th and July 25th from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. every Saturday.
What Others Are Saying
Many have raved about the beauty of the farm, so much so, they choose it as a setting for their weddings. Garrvit T. noted that he wished he and his wife knew about it before planning their ceremony.
“What a beautiful estate! Betty was so warm and welcoming to us during our visit to Homer!” he wrote, allowing them to walk around, take in the stunning overlook to the water and mountains beyond. “Definitely give her a call if you’re in town,” he added.
Make the Entire Trip Charming
To complete the allure of the kaleidoscope of color that the peonies bring to the already magnificent landscapes, why not stay in one of the most beautiful spots to call home in Alaska?
Land’s End Resort boasts a prime position right along the beach. It’s the only hotel on Homer Spit and will immerse you among this nature lover’s paradise, complete with bay and mountain views, along with wildlife like whales that can often be spotted right from your room.
More than the incredible scenery, a stay at Land’s End means getting treated like family from staff with the best accommodations in Homer.