I love Peony season! Peonies are one of those classic English flowers that are perfectly suited to any celebration, but they are immensely popular for weddings. They are spectacular flowers with a sweet fragrance, and they look at home whether arranged simply in a jug on a table or in an ornate urn in a palace.
Peonies are grand but simple. These gorgeous flowers have beguiled generations since time began, and they still have a mystique about them that elevates them above ordinary flowers and makes them ethereal. They are as venerated as cherry blossom - in China and Japan, enthusiasts flock to peony festivals in their thousands.
Early travellers to China claimed they had seen a gigantic flower shaped like a flowering rose but without any of the thorns. Now the height of fashion, peonies are available in an astonishing 3000 varieties as a garden plant, but only 200 varieties are grown commercially as a cut flower. Although you can use tree peonies as cut flowers their longevity is short once cut and it is the herbaceous peonies that have long been cultivated as cut flowers. However, the ease of cultivation in a wide range of climates has meant that their season as a cut flower has been considerably lengthened. I have flown peonies in from New Zealand for a London wedding in November, when none could be procured from the local flower markets. My bride was over the moon! They did pretty well following their twenty-four hour flight halfway across the world, but it is never quite the same as having a locally grown bloom in its prime season. Flowers that are out of season or airfreighted long distances are rather like asparagus or strawberries out of season - never quite as delightful as you remember them.
Enjoy them whilst you can!