There is a certain time of year that I get giddy with anticipation. I have an extra spring in my step. I’m even tolerant of my son’s messy bedroom. And by messy I mean he has just enough space cleared on his floor to make it from the door to his bed….barely. Only one thing can provide this level of happiness and tolerance and it is the magnificent bloom of a peony.
As a design aesthetic, peonies have an optimal balance of both modern and classic elements. The bud, has the slender stem and spherical form that creates the modern element. Whereas the fully bloomed peony is quite classic in nature, with a frilliness that is the foundation for many botanical patterns in the design world.
My own love affair with peonies began when we moved into our home over 10 years ago. While my garden was blessed with several peony bushes, there was one that stood above the rest. This particular bush had literally 100 blooms (and I literally mean literally)! The primary blooms were always the most glorious with their double layers of fluffiness.My friend Natalie Ransom of Pozie by Natalie is also a huge peony fan. “One of my favorite peonies to work with is the “Coral Charm”. The most lovely that I’ve seen are grown locally at North Field Farms in Ferndale. I love the Coral Charm because they have a full fluffy head. They start out as an intense bright coral color, as they open they turn to a really gorgeous buttery yellow. The season for peonies is sadly very short so I get my hands on as many Coral Charm as I can!” As Natalie mentioned, the peony season is short. Having an abundance of peonies in my own yard, I always wished that I could enjoy them for a longer period of time instead of enjoying a bunch of them for a short period of time (for reasons previously mentioned, my son is of the same mind in wanting a longer season).
Thus, I searched high and low for a way to achieve this wondrous dream. I even prayed to Chloris, the Greek Goddess of Flowers, asking for wisdom and guidance. When one day, I came across some ancient folklore (aka Google) and found a way to make this not so humble dream a reality.
To extend and preserve the life of a cut peony, simply keep it chilled for an extended period of time. It’s really that simple. That being said, I was nervous in sacrificing even one peony. So last year, I pulled up my big girl pants and gave it a whirl. And loand behold, it worked!
When to cut:
The optimal time to cut the flowers is when they are at the marshmallow stage for the double peonies. To check, lightly squeeze the blossom at the base of the bloom. If it feels like a marshmallow, then they are good to go. Visually, this is when the petals are peaking through the green (see picture of peonies in vase).How to store:
Cut to approximately 12 inches and remove almost all of the leaves as the leaves tend to produce too much moisture. I tend to leave just couple of leaves towards the top. Place a handful of stems in a two gallon zip-loc storage bag. The key is to make sure that there is not too much moisture. I placed a paper towel in with mine to absorb any excess moisture. Lay the bag down on a flat surface in your refrigerator. Check occasionally to make sure that there isn’t too much moisture.
The flowers should stay good for several months. When you are ready to enjoy them, simply remove and re-cut stems and place in water. Allow 24 hours for the blooming process to start and you’re good to go!
Pozie by Natalie, Natalie Ransom: