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Before Kathleen Gagan started Peony’s Envy (peonysenvy.com), the New Jersey nursery that grew the exquisite herbaceous specimens pictured here, she spent a decade living in China, the epicenter of peony cultivation for the last 1,000 years. There, Gagan saw more variations of the resilient and long-lived perennial than she could have imagined when she first came to love the fragrant blooms of her grandmother’s Milwaukee garden. As inspiring as that Asian panorama may have been, what really got Gagan into the business, she concedes, was a series of catastrophes.