No flower seems to attract the number of dedicated followers. than the Peony. The wedding favourite, is just one of those blooms it seems, that infatuates the masses. And little wonder, the Peony has a beautiful soft fragrance, a feminine ruffly appearance, and is available in a wide variety of colours.
As soon as October begins, people start dribbling in requesting peonies, knowing too well, that the season is short lived and that the bunches are in hot demand. Flowering domestically for anywhere between 6 and 12 weeks, peonies can command $10 per stem when the season starts, with prices coming down to less than half when they are in ‘flush’.
Pee-oh- nee? Pee-uh-nee? How do you pronounce it?
For me, although the word is pronounced Pee-uh-nee, it is more a case of Tomato, Tomahto. I would never correct a person or a customer if they used a different pronunciation, simply because I find it tad condescending. In fact, I often adopt their pronunciation when referring to the flower again within the same conversation, so as not to draw attention to it.
Peonies, are often referred to as peony roses as the flower can look like a beautifully blown rose, but they are not related to roses at all. Rose varieties have now been bred and named ‘Rose Peonies’ due to their likeness to the beautiful bloom. Realistically, they are David Austin roses, but these days, large, opulent versions are bred in South Africa, and the result is amazing!
The following images are just a few examples of gorgeous David Austin roses which share an uncanny likeness to the peonies from Parfum Flower Company, Kenya.
Brindabella roses has also successfully bred a ‘Rose Peony’; a floribunda, with a stong, colourful bloom up to 9cm wide, and with a formed ‘eye’ in the centre. This looks more like a tree peony with fewer petals and pronounced stamens in the centre. You can read more about the story of how they got there at Bridabella Gardens.
The Peony is native to Asia, Southern Europe and Western North America and are available in colours ranging from lemon to pink, red and even a colour bordering on black.. Peonies were once seen as a luxury item in parts of China and believe it or not, could fetch thousands of dollars for just one stem.
According to Greek folklore, Paeon was the apprentice of Asclepius, the Greek God of medicine and healing. Asclepius became jealous of his protégé, and Zeus had to step in to save Paeon from Asclepius’ wrath, by turning him into a peony flower.
The Peony is a stunning flowering plant belonging to the genus ‘Paeonia’, in the family ‘Paeoniacae’. They are generally classified as either Tree Peonies, or Herbaceous plants. The herbaceous varieties are non woody and tend to grow in smaller plants which die down below the ground during the winter months.
Tree peonies are shrubby plants which loose their leaves in the colder months, yet retain their woody stem above ground.
Itoh peonies sit somewhere between tree and herbaceous peonies and are named after Toichi Itoh who in 1948, successfully produced a hybrid.
Whilst peonies flower in late spring and early summer, all peonies require a cool climate in which to grow. In Australia they are best grown in mountain districts, in parts of Victoria as well as Tasmania.
And with our Spring unseasonably warm at times, I wouldn’t be surprised if the peony season finishes sooner rather than later. So, if they are a special favourite of yours too, don’t delay, grab a bunch today!