This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
to break my heart
as the sun rises,
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers
and they open - pools of lace - white and pink
and all day the black ants climb over them,
boring their deep and mysterious holes into the curls,
craving the sweet sap, taking it away
to their dark, underground cities -
and all day under the shifty wind,
as in a dance to the great wedding,
the flowers bend their bright bodies,
and tip their fragrance to the air, and rise,
their red stems holding all that dampness
and recklessness gladly and lightly,
and there it is again - beauty the brave, the exemplary, blazing open.
Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?
Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,
with their honeyed heaviness,
their lush trembling,
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are nothing, forever?
by Mary Oliver
Portrait of peony by Chinese artist Yun Shouping, 17th century
The history of peonies as symbols of beauty and remembrance spans more than 2000 years
The Greeks had - of course - a myth about them,
and named them after Paeon, a student of Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine and healing.
Asclepius became jealous of his pupil;
Zeus saved Paeon from the wrath of Asclepius by turning him into the peony flower.
Paeonia lactiflora 'Marie Crousse' (1)
Tree peony (Paeonia suffruticosa) and herbaceous peony (Paeonia lactiflora),
both are the most beautiful and charming flowers and have prestigious reign in the flower world.
Tree peony - La Pouyette
The Tree Peony is known as "the King of Flower" for being elegant
and its national beauty and heavenly fragrance,
and is regarded as the symbol flower in China.
Tree Peony at La Pouyette
Tree peony 'Duchesse de Morny' (2)
one of the oldest tree peonies in Europe
The herbaceous peony (lactiflora) is called the "Queen of flowers"
Paeonia lactiflora 'Moonstone' (3)
The tree peony has been the favourit flower from the imperial down to the common
for more than 1500 years in Chinese history; whereas the cultivation history
of the herbaceous peony can go back to 2500 years ago.
It was not however until the seventh century, during the reign
of the Emperor Yang (605-617) of the Sui dynasty,
that peonies were thought to have been grown as ornamental plants.
During the T'ang dynasty that followed (618-906) peonies supposedly became
very popular in the imperial gardens and they were put under imperial protection.
The best varieties commanded huge prices and peonies were often part of a dowry settlement.
Then during the Sung dynasty (960-1279), which began at the end of the tenth century,
peonies had spread throughout China and the Sung capital of Louyang
became a centre for peony culture.
In this gold-engraved lacquer ware food tray from the Sung Dynasty,
the two long-tailed birds represent longevity
and the peony seen at the top center represents prosperity
Paeonia suffruticosa 'Colette Thurillet' (4)
Chinese horticulturists were the first peony breeders and their work lead to the
introduction of many huge, double flowered tree and herbaceous peonies.
It is believed that during the 12th century, Chinese horticulturist began
using grafting techniques to reproduce valued cultivars.
"Peonies in a French Garden" - La Pouyette
see also post from Trish... here
Japanese 'Honor', a single flowered herbaceous peony - La Pouyette
'Festiva Maxima Miellez 1853' - La Pouyette
"Peonies in a Californian Garden"
Trish - Trouvais
'While it's Raining'... here
Both the tree peonies and herbaceous peonies were introduced into Japan
at the beginning of the 8th century, Japanese horticulturists began to work with them,
simplified the flowers and produced lighter, less complicated flower heads.
The Japanese also began incorporating images of the peony into their paintings,
porcelains, tapestries and fabrics. The peony was also the subject of many poems
and frequently figured in Japanese literature.
"Peonies in an American Garden"Ann - plumsiena
here 'In Lavender and Pink' post May 27,2011
Peony 'Coral charm'
Paonia lactiflora ' Vivid Rose' (5)
The peony is the national flower of China
and is often referred to in poetry and literature.
Peony, by Chinese artist Wang Qian, Yuan Dynasty (1271-1386)
As one of the main motifs of Chinese decorative arts the peonies can be found
on porcelains, in woodblock and screen paintings as well as embroidered onto tapestries and clothing.
It became important to have it prominently displayed on emperors silk.
Now in modern times in European fabrics like...De-Gourney-Chinoiserie's "Askew" - Colefax & Fowler
Silk "Chelsea" - also from Colefax & Fowler
again with the long-tailed bird representing longevity
The beauty of the peony flower has long inspired artistsin both the eastern and western parts of the world.
here on a 19th century English MINTON coffee cup and saucer
"Peonies in a Belgium Garden"Jerôme - Ma Maison de Lin
'Enfin - les Pivoines souvrent dans mon jardin.....'
Since the early middle ages the Peaonia officinalis found its home
in mainly South-German monastery and farmers garden,
therefore called "Bauernrose" (farmers rose).
It became a "must" in every traditional farmer garden.
Peaonia officinalis 'Rubra Plena' - at La Pouyette
Because of (under 'normal' weather condition) its flowering season around Whitsun,
the common name for the peony in German is "Pfingstrose" (Whitsun rose).
Paeonia mascula - "Corallen-Bauernrose"
appreciated since the classical antiquity as a medicinal plant.
in a German farmers garden - 'Auguste Dessert' and 'Sarah Bernhardt' (Country 2010)
Peonies in a "hortus conclusus" - enclosed garden
Das Paradiesgaertlein (Little Garden of Paradise)
by an Upper Rhenish Master, 1410-20
The denomination Upper Rhenish Master refers to an unknown artist active ca. 1410-20,
possibly in Strasbourg. This most famous painting of the artist is now
in the Staedel Museum in Frankfurt and is the Staedel's most famous example of the old German school.
(a shrub of peonies can be clearly seen at the bottom-center of the painting)
"A Happy Partnership in a German Farmers Garden"
Paeonia 'Festiva Maxima' and 'Auguste Dessert'
together with Allium 'Globemaster' and 'Geranium magnificum' (Storchschnabel)
(Garten & Wohnen 2005)
A few 'cool' colors:
"A Peony with a Bee"
and "Beatles heaven" at La Pouyette
*"Immortal all-year-round Peonies"
perfect for all kind of decorative 'displays' .....with leaves, 'real' flowers, and...and
Why do we all love the peonies?
Apart from their beauty,
it could be their short flowering season which makes them so precious.
We are exited each year while awaiting their full magnificence in our gardens!
Oh - the Peonies, the Peonies....
images 1,2,3,4,5 from this book
This became a very long 'Ode' indeed!
but - it all began with the peonies... hereencore merci Trish!
Best wishes for a lovely Whitsun weekend to all of youFrohe Pfingsten!
By the way....
The peony is probably the only flower to have a country named after it:
Paeonia, in Greece, conquered during the Persian Wars.
the peony is the state flower of Indiana, USIndiana has had a long, tumultuous history regarding state flowers,
beginning with the adoption of the carnation by Concurrent Resolution in 1913....
In 1957, the Indiana General Assembly took up the issue of an official state flower again.Read more.....Indiana State Flower