The peony is the only genus in the flowering plant family Paeoniaceae. They are native to Asia, Southern Europe and western North America but grow very well here too, Peonies are actually very easy to grow; once established they can tolerate drought and suffer from very few diseases.
Colours range from pure white through baby pinks and palest peaches to clear deep pink and darkest rich maroon. There is also a pale yellow but it is rare.
Peonies are only available between late May and early July, so get them while you can!
They are very thirsty flowers, so make sure you top up the vase or bowl.
The Greeks believed they could cure over 20 ailments and were found in every monastery garden.
Peonies have been cultivated for over 2,000 years, more for their medicinal qualities than for ornament.
The Japanese protect the earliest peony blooms from the snow by protecting them with individual small thatched shelters. Some geishas used to wear special peony colours.
The Chinese name for peony is "sho yu" which means "most beautiful" and they idolised this flower.
The common thread is that the flower always denotes luxury and indulgence.
I again tried to photograph them in a 'Victorian' style. Lots of drama!
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