Peonies – the queen of flowers

The large sweet lovely ruffles of the peony petals are possibly one of my most favorite things.  Peonies is one of the most requested flower for weddings.  They simply exude femininity and prettiness.  Compound, packed with delicate petals, peonies are large, often sweetly fragrant flowers, ranging in color from deep burgundy, pink, white and yellow.  Marco Polo once described peonies as “roses, big as cabbages.”  Native to Asia, peonies were introduced along with hibiscus, camellia, chrysanthemum, azalea, magnolia, and rhododendron plants  to European and American gardens in the 19th century.   Peonies are great mass flowers and are admired for their natural composition.

Bouquet of Peonies by Edouard Manet

Peonies are often depicted in Chinese art as they are a symbol of peace, stability, distinction and wealth. As early as the 7th century It is also an omen of good fortune. Chinese peony paintings of are often hung in the home for good luck and in the office for good business.  The complementary of opposites is another traditional Chinese meaning associated with the peony which is often understood as a positive influence for woman and man living harmoniously together. The Chinese peony is an emblem of love and affection and is a symbol of feminine beauty. White peonies traditionally symbolize young girls who are distinguished mainly by their wit but also by their beauty.

Peony by Han Shiao

Interesting fact – The peony is also know to have medicinal qualities.  Peony plants are said to enhance the nervous system of the brain, increase memory power, lowering cholesterol and help proper liver function.

Availability – Peonies are available during late spring through early summer, peaking in June.  Burgundy peonies are available in November and December.

Vase Life – Approximately 5 days.  Peonies last much longer in fresh water than in foam.

Tips – Cut stems under water and place in a solution of warm water and floral preservative.  Let blooms hydrate for an hour before placing in cooler.   Buy when buds are fairly tight and showing full color.

Peonies with lilac and stock

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