Strangely Peonies weren’t a love at first sight flower for me. While their enormous, overblown blooms are amazing and a favorite among most, I didn’t actually fall in love with them until just a few seasons ago.
Traditionally Peonies are famous for blooming on Memorial Day and decorate cemeteries all over the country in late May.
The first stems I sold were to a woman from the Midwest who had been laying them on her father‘s grave for the last 20 years. The thought of these old fashioned flowers, consistently marking such a special holiday, made me want to grow as many as possible.
If you frequent farmer’s markets or roadside stands you’ll often see big bundles of Peonies in soft pinks, deep fuchsia and white available for a steal in the spring. Most are picked a bit too open(pictured below), since shoppers expect to see what they are buying, and would last many days more if purchased in colored bud stage (pictured above).
My modest patch, which will hopefully someday be a field, is filled with the traditional wedding favorites in soft pink and white, with a handful of the coveted Corals thrown in for fun.
I love combining a big bundle of Peonies together with a few Garden Roses, Herbs and early perennials like Lupine, Columbine and Geraniums.
In recent years “designer Peonies” have hit the floral world by storm. You can find huge, bomb like blooms in deep crimson, cherry red, coral, magenta, pure white and even yellow. There are huge fluffy heads, rich cupped singles and the occasional oddity with thin scraggly petals sporting names like Swizzle and Peppermint Sticks.
My all time favorite Peony, Cythera (pictured above and below) is unfreaking real. The color, the smell, the SIZE. It’s one of the earliest ,so do keep an eye out at the start of the season and ask around with some of the more specialty growers. It will most certainly rock your worldJ