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Why we love: peonies

Jessica Hulme of Meadows Flowers, Staffordshire looks at why we covet these divas of the flower patch.

For a few fleeting weeks in late spring the blousy blooms of peonies strut their stuff across the land, bringing joy to all who experience their stunning beauty.  But why do we love them so much?

A pink peony glows in the late summer cut flower patch.

They’re one of our most historic flowers grown here in the UK.  We can trace their history right back to 1000BC in the gardens of China, from where they started to make their way across the globe. The common peony (P. officinalis) was first recorded in the UK before 1548, truly making them an archetypal British flower. Their rise in popularity in the 19th & 20th centuries led to the huge range of peonies which we enjoy today.

So why do we all love peonies so much?  I wonder if it’s because they evoke so many memories of childhood? The herbaceous peony in Granny’s garden perhaps …. Or is it that they bloom oh so slowly that the anticipation and waiting game makes the day they bloom feel even more special?

Like flower farmers country wide I stare daily at the peony buds, watching them slowly but surely develop over weeks if not months, until one day they appear in all their glorious, fragrant beauty. But then we turn our backs and poof, they’re gone as swiftly as a cobweb caught on the breeze, teasing us to only dream of next Spring when they will once again appear for such a short yet spectacular season.

Whatever the reasons for our obsession, it’s true that they are still one of the most sought after wedding flowers with brides world wide coveting these transient beauties for their special day . Remember though that however hard we may wish for them, they’re only available UK grown in May and June when they enjoy their spectacular moment in the spotlight, so please don’t expect our farmer florists to whip them out of a magic flower cupboard outside those months….!

Dramatic deep pink red peonies are stars of the May and June cut flower patch.