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Barbara Favorite Flowers: Peony, Paeoniaceae

May 16, 2012 Southern Mansion 2012

Barbara Favorite Flowers: Peony, Paeoniaceae

My Peony Patch at the Willow Creek Vineyard includes several hundred heirloom peonies, salvaged from a historical West Cape May peony garden on Landis Ave and mixed in with other fabulous hybrids. I remember seeing the “Peonies For Sale” sign off of Broadway for years and buying dozens of them from a delightful little lady in her 90’s. Her son maintained the Peonies for many years later, and finally he offered the plants for sale.  Needless to say, I purchased the entire lot and established them in my Vineyard gardens.  Now as these are old-fashioned peonies, they are more in the anemone, or semi-double style, as compared to the more outrageous, modern, hybridized varieties, but their delicious sweet scent and their beauty are unforgettable.

These fleeting, over-blown, decadent blossoms are the stuff of dreams and bridal fantasy.  These are flowers that are purely over-the-top. A huge bouquet of Peonies in a crystal vase next to your bed or on a marble counter in front of your bathroom mirror is exquisite. Peony season is short-lived in early May; the Chinese, or tree peony, blooms first. Tree Peonies originated in Asia and can live hundreds of years. Certain colors and varieties are in such high demand that they command millions of dollars. The herbaceous peony has a soft stem that comes up from the bare earth every year, but it shares the Asian ancestry and delicious blossoms. Peonies are also very popular motifs in classic Asian art and Museum quality tattoos. They are known as the King of Flowers in China.

Peony flower type varies tremendously as they become more complex in their arrangement of petals. The flower types include Single, Japanese, Anemone, Semi-Double, and Bomb-Double. Herbaceous peonies die back in the winter and regrow in the spring, while tree peonies lose their leaves in winter, but leave woody stems.

I hope you enjoy the gorgeous peonies at Southern Mansion and Willow Creek Winery as much I do!

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