Peonies are really just shameless show-offs, with their fancy frills and delightful colours. Here’s everything you need to know about these seasonal sensations…
Try creeping up to someone and suddenly whispering ‘Peony!’ at them. You’ll see their ears prick up, their eyes go all misty and there’s a decent chance they’ll say in a dreamy voice: ‘That’s my favourite flower, how did you know?’
Because peonies are, let’s face it, sensational: great explosions of frilly petals, bursting out in the most outrageous manner from tiny tight buds.
They’re floral superstars, really. Perhaps that’s why one of the most popular contemporary varieties is named after that legendary diva, the French actress Sarah Bernhardt.
The peony season is a beautiful one but it is also incredibly short. Peony season is only from the end of May through to the end of June so make sure you have ordered your boxes so you don’t miss out on peony mania! They will be in our boxes from 7th June so quickly, log onto your account and put yourself down for a delivery for the next three week’s!
In terms of arranging peonies, you don’t have to do much really as they’re perfectly fine on their own. Pop them in a vase and they just keep opening and opening, filling your room with scent and colour.
However if you think they are a little too closed pop their heads in a bowl of warm water and smack them on the table. That’ll speed up the opening process. Don’t whack them too hard though!
Peonies popularity actually dates back much further than Mademoiselle Bernhardt. The genus Paeonia (the only genus in the family Paeoniaceae) is native to Asia, Europe and North America, with around thirty or forty varieties worldwide.
They’re named after Paean, a physician in Greek mythology who was turned into a flower by the god Zeus. But historically, they’re most associated with the Far East.
In China they’ve been cultivated since at least the sixth century, initially for medicine and then increasingly as ornamental flowers. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the Japanese began cultivating them in earnest, creating cross-breeds between herbaceous and tree peonies called ‘Itoh’ or ‘intersectional’ peonies.
And European peony-mania really began in 19th century France when the great floriculturist Victor Lemoine began creating the glorious ancestors of the varieties we see today.
Fun Peony Facts
When Marco Polo first saw peonies whilst he was in the Far East how he described them was ‘’roses as big as cabbages’’!
In ancient times peonies were used for medicinal purposes and were believed to help relieve headaches and help with asthma.
The Chinese name for the peony is sho yu and this means “most beautiful”. I mean you can understand the thought process behind that one!
A peony represents wealth and honour. It also embodies romance and love, and are regarded as the omen of good fortune and happy marriage.
They really are one heck of a flower. You don’t want to miss out on peony season!