The best time to learn about a flower is when it's in season and everywhere around town.
My florist gave me what resembled six light pink lollipops with leaves, and told me there would be a great surprise in the center when they opened. Cool - I love surprises!
The surprise, a note on choosing and also learning about the basic peony types after the jump...
We're sending a shout-out to all of you who bring home flowers to brighten up your home. Do YOU have some Sat. morning flowers to share? Let me know! You can drop a line with a small description and some pics at matt at apartment therapy dot com
These flower-lollipops opened up first in a lopsided way, with petals stretching out like wings on one side, and then to the other, with the fat ball in the center. The opening resembled a drunk bumblebee in slow motion preparing for flight. And then a few days later the centers opened with a flourish to reveal the surprise - beautiful streaks of crimson red. The florist was unsure of the variety, but Paeonia 'Festiva Maxima' is what I think these are, or very close to it.
The best way to buy peonies is when the buds are still tight, like a golf-ball or a big lollipop. What looks like an insignificant bundle will turn into a full vase of flowers.
The many varieties fall within five basic forms. Paeonia.com has a great article outlining them: single, double, semi-double, Japanese, and anemone/bomb-style blossoms. Doubles and anemone styles are very popular at the delis and florists because of their fullness, but Japanese styles, if you can find them at the florist, are especially stunning.
The best place to get them at the best price has to be James Durr on Saturdays at the Union Square Greenmarket. They have had them for the past few weeks, beautiful deep ruby red anemone style peonies and may still have them for a while yet. Get there early and get them fresh.
Two online resources if you are new to the varieties of peonies:
- White Flower Farm has gorgeous pictures of their tree and herbacious varieties.
- Cricket Hill is another online vendor in CT that has beautiful varieties, some of which have been on display at the NYBG in the past. They also have a good section on peony growing and care.
matt at apartment therapy dot com