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.

7 thoughts on “TAMING THE PRECOCIOUS AND RELUCTANT PEONY . . . a romantic tale.

  1. Beautiful! You write about them romantically. All I have these days are cactus blooms which one does not cut and bring inside. It was so nice to find an enchanting flower post from you and your garden.

    • My dearest Jo Nell, I wrote the post this afternoon. I realized I had left out the most important thing. THE FRAGRANCE OF THE FLOWERS. I love the silvery light of our long twilight. I sip a glass of wine and enjoy the calmness of the evening. The fragrance of the peonies was intoxicating. Oh, to capture the perfume. Safely tuck it into a gold-lined envelop, and mail it to you. XXXOOO Virginia

  2. Excellent advice for long-life–I’ll try it. I have four colors–including that fabulous light pink variety you have, which is my favorite. The rain here has been hard on them this year, but they are still awe-inspiring! I share your passion for them. Aren’t gardens uplifting!

    • Yes indeed, dear girl. Gardens are a great joy. Working in the garden is a great stress reliever and the rewards of the flowers and vegetables are immense. It brings me much happiness to share the bounty of our gardens, especially the vegetables. I take these to our local library. How can you not love a library that distributes fruits and vegetables as well as books. XX Cheers Virginia

  3. Dearest Resa, The Lar dug me a fence garden this spring. It’s a lovely, old farm fence. It will be the ballroom for more peonies of every colour. At night the violins will play and the flowers will sway and waltz for me. XXXXOOO Virginia

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