If there is one flower that draws my eye whenever I am at the flower market it is the peony. No matter the price (often eye watering), no matter the air miles (often imported from overseas), no matter the times of year (aka you should know they are seriously not in season in Australia). I am addicted to them and judging by the amount of visual images devoted to the peony, so are many other people.
Dubbed the ‘Queen of Flowers’, the peony is a flowering plant in the genus Paeonia, the only genus in the family Paeoniaceae and native to Asia, Europe and Western North America. The genus name Paeonia is derived from Paion, the physician to the gods in Greek mythology, implying praise for something of exceptional quality.
The flowers are sometimes referred to as a peony roses as the flower resemble roses although not they’re not related to roses at all. There are many species and cultivated varieties broadly divided into two groups in the garden tree peonies (Paeonia suffruticosa Hybrids) and herbaceous peonies (Paeonia lactiflora).
It appears my admiration for peonies is not a modern phenomenon. Peonies grown in China were once a luxury item, selling for the equivalent of thousands of dollars for one flower stem.
Peonies are among the most difficult plants for the home gardener to master – so having peonies in full bloom in your garden entitles you to major bragging rights. Peonies are a particular favourite of Martha Stewart who has a Peony Garden at her estate in Bedford in the North Eastern United States. Mind you, Martha also has an army of gardeners who tend the garden so I am not sure who the bragging rights would go to. But Down Under, herbaceous peonies need cool climates and are best grown only in the colder parts of Australia including mountain districts, parts of Victoria and Tasmania.
Herbaceous peonies feature layers of delicate petals that form large flower-heads and bloom in spring to early summer in a short sharp burst in October and November – though I know of brides who had to have them at other times and were happy to pay for the privilege.
It will therefore come as no surprise that I love wrapping paper that features peonies. When I think of peonies I do think pink though they grow in just about every colour (except blue!). I do understand it is a girly girly look and that’s okay by me if that’s the context. I have been wrapping a bit with a beautiful gloss paper called Bloom. Though I have been known to go full bloom, today I used the bloom paper as the highlight. I wrapped my gift in white gloss, added pink sparkly netting, layered in a belli band of bloom and topped it off with some gold cord. I love the result. No wonder this flower draws Martha’s eye and mine too. Frankly we could be twins.