Aspelund Peony Gardens


One of the things I like to do is take drives around the land surrounding Wanamingo, and not only take in the beauty of the landscapes, but learn things about the people who live here. On one of my day trips, I saw a sign that said Aspelund Winery, and being a woman who enjoys her wine, I pulled in the driveway. The land was so beautiful, with the fruit trees, and landscaping using all kinds of interesting plants, but nobody was home. I looked around for a moment, just enjoying the peaceful setting, and went on my way.

Come to find out, the winery was no longer operating, but the farm was still operational..... with prize winning peonies! Located at 9204 425th street outside of Kenyon, it is a site to behold!

Bruce and Dawn Rohl moved to this idyllic farm in 1992, and literally cleared the land for what was to become their home. They bought the land in 1992, and lived in a mobile home until they built their house in 1996, all the while tearing down old buildings, and making room for flowers and trees! One interesting point I learned while visiting the farm is that their home was the last one built in Goodhue County using trees taken from their own land!

One of Bruce's interests is peonies, so the couple planned and cultivated space to start growing them. As they were getting settled into their home, in 1996 they purchased 13 root bundles of different peonies from Tischler Gardens in Faribault, and that was to be the beginning of Aspelund Peony Gardens.

With their children, Ben and Samantha, they began the process of dividing the plants and making new beds until they ended up with over 2,000 plants with several species, including some very rare ones. As we chatted about the history of the enterprise, I learned so much about the curation of the flowers, and the specialization of hybrids, and cultivating the new varieties. It takes years to come up with new varieties, and you can learn more about this process at the talks they occasionally give, or on some of the websites dedicated to the craft. Or pop in for a visit, and ask away!

Ben worked on the farm and raised the flowers for a 4H project, and entered his flowers in the County Fair. His project was to raise them from seed, and as I learned, there is a lot to doing so. As the gardens grew, people started wanting peonies for their own enjoyment, so in 2007, they decided to sell root stock.

So, here's how it works.... The first 3 weekends in June, you will come out to the farm between 10 am and 5 pm to walk the beds and write down which varieties you are drawn to. Once you have made that difficult decision from 140 varieties currently in the beds, you purchase the root stock which will be ready in the fall. Fall is the best time to transplant, so you pick them up, take them home, and pop them in a hole. You will water well to get the air pockets out, and let them hibernate for the winter. In the spring, they will come up as one of the first periennials, and your garden has begun! About ¾ of them will bloom the first year. However, the different species bloom in a succession, so you may want to come out more than just one weekend! When you come back to pick up your plants, you will be shown how to plant, and given an instruction sheet on what you need to know to be successful in growing your own. To schedule a group tour, or a specific time to come out, call (507) 824-2935.

The flowers will bloom from around Memorial Day until Father's Day, with slight variations due to the weather that year. I saw some blooming on May 6th! All the varieties on the farm stay standing up, not falling over during bloom time like many that you see. The one question I had to ask was "Why do the ants have to open the petals?". Bruce laughed and said that was a frequently asked question. Dawn answered that the ants do not open the petals, but are harvesting the nectar from the buds. There you have it! Another wives tale dispelled!

So, I encourage you to make a day plan to come out to the garden and enjoy nature's beauty. Talk to Bruce and Dawn, and learn something new. Take pictures with your family, and relax in the beauty the Rohl's have created. For more information on the flowers themselves, you can go to, or You can also visit Facebook and go to Aspelund Peony Gardens for more info on the farm. Happy Spring to you all!