Though most commonly available in various shades of pink, deep red and creamy white, peonies are also found in unexpected colours such as peach, coral and pale yellows.
Originally from China, they were introduced to Europe in the 16th century, where they were planted in knot gardens (a formal style of garden design). People often consider peonies the quintessential English flower, but in fact it was the French who were responsible for the development of the many vareties we see today. Hence their romantic names; 'Duchesse de Nemours', 'Souvenir de Maxime Cornu', 'Julies Elie', 'Avant Garde', 'Auguste Dessert', and 'Tourne Angel', for example.
While the local season is short, you have probabaly noticed that peonies are available at other times of the year, such as Christmas, when they are flown in from New Zealand and Australia. And, in early Spring they are imported from Holland.
You have probably also noticed they are incredibly expensive !
So, for those of you lucky enough to have peonies in the garden this June, enjoy! For the rest of us, your local florist is stocking up for the next couple of weeks.
At Wild thyme, we always look forward to receiving our local field grown peonies from Janet and Harlan at the farmer's market. They are so beautiful!