Peony PassionPosted: May 4, 2011
The first week of May is the very best time of year here because my peonies are finally starting to pop. Huge gorgeous blooms plus delicious fragrance put peonies at the very top of my favorite flower list. Just seeing them bud lifts my spirits and reminds me that there is beauty all around even during one of the busiest times of year.
I first fell in love with peonies the first spring after the hub and I moved into our second home on one of the most beautiful little avenues in Richmond. An unknown former owner had left the gift of several peony plants in whites and light pinks in our lovely little backyard garden. Over the years, I learned to anticipate their arrival and that the ants crawling through the blossoms were not a bad thing.
One of the main lessons gleaned from these inherited plants was to forget “stop and smell the roses”. I now literally stop and smell the peonies. Taking the time to put my nose into the blooms slows my heart rate and removes the current worries from my mind.
Then I have to start harvesting them and finding the right containers to corral their heavy heads. Often I will take short snippings in hopes that the smaller side buds will eventually open. Sometimes they do, but often they don’t. According to the Hidden Springs Flower Farm website, cutting the side buds before they reach green pea size will create a larger main bloom. Who knew?
Virginia gardening expert Andre Viette recommends harvesting peonies when the bud is just opening, not in full bloom as I often do because they seem to burst open in a matter of hours when, like yesterday, it is really warm out. “If your peonies are budding and your party’s not until next week, use this tip from Viette: ‘Cut the buds with a lot of color showing, and refrigerate them without water for up to a week.’ Recut the stems before arranging to get the right height.” I followed this advice last year and had a gorgeous pile of peonies in my refrigerator. They seem to bloom differently in a beautiful way after they have been refrigerated.
While peonies were once considered the flowers of paupers because the plants lasted for decades, anyone who has a peony plant blooming in the garden is richly blessed.
All photos except the last one by Avad Fan.