How to Arrange Peonies
Nature’s bounty extends to many things, including vegetables and flowers. The thing about a bounty is that it is just that—a whole bunch of something all at once. You know how it works, as you scramble to cut, clean and freeze the mountains of rhubarb that appear overnight in your garden, or when your tomato plants have so much fruit on them that even your neighbors aren’t accepting any more “gifts” from you?
Peonies are the same, although I wish there was a way to preserve them in their original state to enjoy later. I can’t imagine anything that would brighten a dreary, freezing January day quite like the sight and smell of a big vase of peonies. They are late spring flowers here, and when a peony bush blooms, all of a sudden you have way too many flowers and not enough vases. Talk about a bounty!
Where Do Peonies Come from?
The peony gets its name from Paean, an unfortunate Greek who was turned into a flower by Zeus in order to save him from an even worse fate. Peonies are native to Asia and southern parts of Europe, as well as the western part of North America. Peonies most often occur as bushes that average about 3 feet in height, but also come in tree form, with the trees reaching up to ten feet in height.
The peony is the traditional flower of China, and it appears on many beautifully painted and carved items – including those from some very early dynasties – with the flower representing prosperity or riches.
What is your favorite peony color?
What Colors Do Peonies Come in?
Peonies come in many different shades, from simple and elegant white to passionate, energetic red, through pinks and yellows and combinations of colors. Peony buds are often covered with ants, which are attracted by the sticky nectar that appears on the bud. Many people believe that the ants are required for the flower to open, but this is not the case. When cutting peonies to bring into the house, it is always wise to give them a good shake upside down to rid them of ants.
How to Arrange Peonies
Peonies are so very versatile, and because they are so beautiful there isn’t really much that has to be done to them in order to create an attractive display. If you are looking for some different ideas though, here are a few you can try.
1. Flower Pot Vase. These vases are so-named because they are shaped like flower pots. They are also inexpensive – I found mine in a dollar store. Measure the correct length required for the stem. This will be equal to the height of the narrower part of the flower pot vase, and will allow the flowers to stand up properly. I like to leave mine long enough so an inch or so of the flowers are poking above the rim. Cut the stems of enough flowers to fill the pot; often three will do it, but this will depend on the size of the flowers and your pot. Bunch them together by grabbing the flowers by the petals, and tuck them in against one another. Fill the vase with enough water to reach the underside of the flowers. You can cut the remaining stems so there are some leaves on stems by themselves; these can be tucked in around the flowers.
New Uses for Old Glasses
2. Old water glasses. You can try a couple of variations here. I found these old glasses (photo at right) at a flea market. The base on them makes them perfect for flowers or candles, as they aren't prone to tipping over. Fill the glass with either clear or colored glass beads, then insert one perfect peony and fill the glass with water.
Colored Martini Glasses
3. Cocktail or martini glasses. Alternatively, try putting a peony in an old cocktail glass like the sort used for a Manhattan. Or inexpensive colored plastic martini glasses, like the one shown in the photo below. I found these at the dollar store. Cut the stem of the peony very short and stuff the peony into the glass. Fill with enough water to keep the flower fresh. Plastic is much safer for the patio too, so you can decorate the table for your next bbq.
4. Float peonies and tea lights together. Peonies will float, so you can also create an attractive centerpiece by combining peonies and tea lights together in a large bowl. Simply cut the stem off and float the flowers and the tea lights in the bowl. Use on your table instead of regular candles...so pretty!
5. Add a dash of color to the water. Finally, using a clear bowl, add a dash of food coloring to the water so that the color matches your table napkins or dinnerware. Float a peony or two in the water and place it on the table as a centerpiece like the one shown in the photo below. Simple and beautiful!