Flower of the Month – Peony

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The peony is somewhat of an ingénue in the flower world. A popular choice for many brides and spring loving home owners; the peony is not quite as grand as a garden rose, yet it alludes a softness that once saw single stems sell for thousands of dollars according to Chinese folklore.

In fact Peonies are prevalent in ancient Chinese history as far back as Confucius’ day in 551-479 BC, where historians believe they were not only admired for their beauty but also used to flavour food. Nowadays the cities of He Ze & Luoyang are famous for their peony culture, as both cities host annual peony exhibitions and state-funded peony research facilities.

 

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The genus name for Peony is Paean who was known in Greek mythology as the physician of the gods. This name no doubt has links to the reported medicinal use of the flower.

Fast forward 2,500 years and the humble peony is still adored by the masses, although strictly for its aesthetic qualities! In fact #peony has over 1.6 million posts on Instagram making it one of the most talked about and posted flowers in the digital space.

So apart from its beauty, what makes this flower so popular? If you believe in the mantra, “we all want what we can’t have”, that may have something to do with it; as peony season in Melbourne generally lasts for the very short period from late October – early December. We are however lucky in Victoria to have perfect weather conditions for the flower to grow, as it prefers colder climates.

The large size of a fully grown peony is also one of the reasons many love to include them in their arrangements and bouquets. They look equally as impressive closed as when they are open.  The bulb like shape of a closed peony also works well for those wanting identical sized flowers for a classic round bouquet – see picture below.

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While we’ve mentioned the Chinese connection to peonies, we must also mention the French fascination with the flower. The Sarah Bernhardt peony – possibly the most well recognized of all varieties – was introduced in 1906 by the French breeder Monsieur Lemoine and named after Sarah Bernhardt, a French actress who slept in a peony filled coffin as preparation for a role.

We prefer our blooms in vases or bouquets… but what every floats your boat, or errr coffin?!

Click on the link for more information on peonies, including Spring Hill Peony Farm’s annual Peony Paddock Picnic.

Also on Pinterest, we’ve curated a visual mood board for further inspiration. Follow the link to see more!