Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot,
into the garden,
and softly, and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,
with their honeyed heaviness,
their lush trembling,
their eagerness to be wild and perfect for a moment,
before they are nothing, forever?
Excerpt from the poem Peonies by Mary Oliver
Ah, peonies. Those lush romantic blooms are currently the most requested flower by brides. Some bridal trend pundits are even calling peonies the Flower of 2013. To that I say “hooray”. Here’s a trend I can fully support, as, I must confess, I unabashedly adore peonies.
What is it about peonies that elicit such passion and capture the imagination of so many brides and floral designers?
In Sonia Day’s recent book The Untamed Garden – in which she takes a naughty look at some of our most beloved blooms – Sonia describes peonies as flashy, flirty, blousy exhibitionists. All true! But peonies also have less salacious qualities. Peonies symbolize a happy life and prosperity, and they are known as the healing flower. In fact, the name peony comes from the Ancient Greek god Paean, the healer of the gods. Today peony root is still used in traditional Chinese medicine.
As lovely as they are, peonies are also tough and easy care. Established garden plants can last for decades – just make sure they get enough sunshine.
The downside to peonies is their brief period of availability. Try to use peonies when they’re in season (generally late May-late June here in southern Ontario). Off-season imports can be quite expensive and poorer quality than local blooms grown in season.
Even in-season peonies come at a price, $10-$12. Comparatively speaking roses, another beloved wedding bloom, generally cost $3 – $5 per stem.
Peonies. They are symbolic, medicinal and a little bit sexy. But the reason their popularity endures? They’re gorgeous.