They flounce in the garden. Their ball gowns worn with great aplomb. Their glorious heads sway and dance to the slightest breeze. They are the voluptuous, sumptuous darlings of the garden.
Peonies beguile us with tiny, tight buds and seduce us unfurling paper thin petals after petals to burst into blooms of staggering beauty.
Peonies are rather precocious and sometimes rather petulant when it comes to flower arrangements. They like to be coaxed and pampered to flaunt their full blown beauty. The trick to encouraging these reluctant little darlings to open faster is to cut their stems a little shorter. Every time you snip the stem, a peony will open further. But peonies, having a mind of their own, will also change their shape and colour each time you shorten them. For example the deep pink may fade to a lighter shade.
So as that delicate light of twilight creeps into your home, the intoxicating perfume of peonies surround you. Their perfume whispers of romantic waltzes and past loves. It spins a web that connects you to these treasured memories from the past. You smile. You cup the fragrant blossoms in you hand and hold the most wondrous of thoughts close to your heart.
The most precocious of peonies with behave with decorum if you follow a few tips for a longer vase life. Pick your flowers in the early morning and let them wile a way a few hours in a dark place deeply immersed in a bucket of warm water.
Make your own “plant food” . To a quart of water add 1 tablespoon vinegar, 1 teaspoon of sugar and 3-4 drops household bleach. Stir the water throughly before adding the flower. The bleach and vinegar reduce the chance of bacteria multiplying. Bacteria cause stems to become slimy and turn the water cloudy. The sugar acts as food for the flowers.
And when a few petals drift down to adorn your table – let them linger. Perfection can be boring.