The peony is a glorious part of the splendor of spring and early summer. Their delicate petals and lush fragrance make them a favorite for gift giving, outdoor gardens, indoor decor and wedding themes. Peonies come in a range of colors including shades of white, cream and lovely pastels like light yellow, salmon and peach; they also come in deeper, richer tones like red, orange, amber and vibrant pink.
While a bouquet of peonies is sure to delight any recipient, they also look amazing when combined with other spring flowers like lilies, snapdragons, tulips and hydrangea. They also have a fascinating history that dates back thousands of years.
Healing Properties and Greek Roots
The peony’s name was derived from the Greek physician Paian, who was said to have helped heal a number of the Greek gods. The peony is regarded as medicinal in many cultures, including Greek and Roman. Ancient peoples used the peony’s seed capsules and roots liberally within herbal remedies. Peony essences were used to help cure stomach issues, bladder problems and jaundice. Peony extracts were also used to help relieve labor pains, neurological issues and nightmares.
Middle Ages Influence
The tradition of using peonies in healing was present in the Middle Ages as well. Christians appreciated the peony’s healing power and thought them symbolic of both wealth and female beauty. The Benedictine monks stationed north of the Alps grew peonies on their monastery grounds. A number of the peony breeds grown today originated from the Middle Ages.
Impact in China
The most historic roots of the peony are in China, where there are records of its cultivation from more than 4,000 years ago. The Chinese revered the peony then and continue their appreciation to this day. In addition to medicinal and horticultural uses, it also shows up quite a bit in art and culture throughout their history. Hundreds of peony varieties bloom in China. A number of European and American varieties have their roots from Chinese cultivation.
Peonies in Modern Visual Art
More recently, Impressionist painters from the 19th century were inspired by peonies, depicting them in their lush oil paintings. Famous Impressionist artists like Gauguin, Renoir, Manet and Delacroix were all inspired by the peony.
While peonies are still appreciated in gardens around the world, they also make an amazing gift or addition to your home decor. Contact Griffin’s Floral Design for peony ideas and inspiration, or to order an arrangement to send as a gift.