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The Peonies are coming

Jennifer Morris

The year-long wait for Peonies in our garden and wedding flowers is almost behind us. Soon their long burgundy stems will launch themselves skyward in an almost unsustainable attempt to support their heavy blooms. So heavy that gardeners know to use a cage or string to hold the plants aloft as even the very lightest rain can spill the blooms to the ground.

A Peony laden wedding party at Riverside on the Potomac in Leesburg, Virginia. Photography by Kaypea.

A Peony laden wedding party at Riverside on the Potomac in Leesburg, Virginia. Photography by Kaypea.

“The fattest and most scrumptious of all flowers, a rare fusion of fluff and majesty, the peony is now coming into bloom.”
–Henry Mitchell, American writer (1923-93)

These flowers look beautiful in a vase of water. A cut peony will last in water for a week or more, and you can force the buds to open indoors extending the life of the flower further. The scent of a peony is pure luxury. I love the quote by Henry Mitchell above. My grandmother Ruth used the word “luscious” to describe anything from tasty foods to beautiful jewelry and I am sure she would have used it for Peonies as well.

Brides and their Peonies

Pink Peonies in a blush bouquet, Photography by Kelly Pollack at Kaypea Photography.

Pink Peonies in a blush bouquet, Photography by Kelly Pollack at Kaypea Photography.

Brides getting married in late spring and early summer have the opportunity to include peonies in their wedding florals. If you are one of those brides and you are thinking about using Peonies here’s what we just might know about you:

1. You are comfortable with the unstructured look or texture that we get using Peonies as no two buds are alike.

2. You love the pretty, soft (almost pillowy) style of the flowers.

3. We know that you like the idea of bigger, heritage blooms. Remember, these really are flowers that your grandparents grew. Peonies are showstopper florals that take over a garden for a week and maybe a little longer.

4. You love warm color. Peonies come in rich white and ivory, pale pink, peach and coral, medium pinks and even hot-pink and burgundy.

5. We know that you don’t mind watching your flowers change throughout your wedding day (especially if it is warm). A Peony can leave the cooler in a tight bud shape and open and change all day long.

6. You like to use the word romantic when describing your wedding day.

Bridal bouquet choices

You can use Peonies in all of the styles that we now see in bridal bouquets. Still love that tight, compact but textured bridal bouquet? Peonies are perfect for that look. We can use Roses, Garden Roses, Ranunuclus, Spray Roses right alongside your Peonies creating tones of color and texture. Like the idea of just one flower in your bouquet? Let’s use Peonies.

Looking for a loose and airy bouquet with lots of space between the flowers? Peonies work as focal points in these bouquets. We don’t see as many of these loose bouquets with Peonies because so many of the pictures that you see on the internet are a little tighter. You’ll love the way it looks.

Peony in altar arrangements and ceremony décor

Peonies are wonderful additions to your centerpieces, altar arrangements and arch. If you are looking for lush and full, then add some peonies. Remember, these are very artful blooms. Your floral designer will use the Peony as a focal point in these designs. Greenery and some space between the flowers will allow that “scrumptious” bloom to stand out.

Photography by Candice Adelle, Stone Tower Winery.

Photography by Candice Adelle, Stone Tower Winery.

Peonies and your budget

Peonies are considered luxury blooms. You may want to set aside a little bit more of your overall wedding budget for flowers if you are planning to use these stems. They are certainly going to add richness and depth to your décor… well worth the money you will spend.

We suggest that you use luxury blooms like Peonies in high impact pieces like your bouquet and arrangements that will be centrally placed. For example, you can add three or four stems to one of your centerpiece designs and then intersperse them amongst your tables.

As a florist in Northern Virginia, we can comfortably get Peonies from Mother’s Day to the Fourth of July. It is possible to get Peonies for your wedding flowers other times throughout the year but it is important to remember two things. First, they are going to may be a more expensive. Second, the size and fullness may be a little more hit-or-miss. If they are important to you, it is worth a try. We could end up with big, luscious blooms. We also run the risk of getting smaller, sparser flowers. Dahlia’s are a great alternative to Peonies in the fall and Garden Roses can achieve a very similar effect all year long.


Photography by Pamela Leopold.&nbsp;Breaux Vineyard.

Photography by Pamela Leopold. Breaux Vineyard.

 Had I but four square feet of ground at my disposal, I would plant a peony in the corner and proceed to worship. –Alice Harding, The Book of the Peony.

Tip: Peonies make wonderful cut flowers, lasting more than a week. For best results, cut long stems when the buds are still fairly tight.

If you are a gardener, then perhaps you might consider purchasing the book I referenced above, Henry Mitchell on Gardening, which I found is available on Amazon for $8.95. Want to receive our blog each week, complete the form below.