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(Irving Penn for Vogue, 1971)

“Once lively peonies now
wind-weary, and ragged
at the edges, hang their heavy
crowns; rain on their backs,
one final act, before
detaching from the stem
and falling down.”

–Kristen Henderson, Of My Maiden Smoking

(Irving Penn Photography)

Peonies: Origins and Meanings

  • “Peonies are native to China. They are highly valued there and are often referred to as the “king of flowers.” They were the national flower in China prior to 1929 when they were replaced by the plum tree. As peonies have been popular in China since the Sui dynasty and were planted at the Imperial Palace, they symbolize nobility, honor, and wealth.

They also represent:

  • Romance
  • Prosperity
  • Good fortune
  • A happy marriage
  • Riches
  • Honor
  • Compassion

(Photography by Irving Penn)

A Popular Favorite

“The peony. I have a fondness for China, and peonies originated there. I grow tree peonies in all my gardens— they’re such exquisite flowers!”

—Martha Stewart

  • Martha Stewart—one of the world’s top gurus when it comes to all things beautiful—is wild about peonies and has an impressive garden filled with 22 varieties of the gorgeous flower. With rows upon rows of peonies in varying shades of pink and white, it’s evident that Stewart is an expert on the beloved blossom.
  • When it comes to gathering the perfect bouquet of peonies (they usually peak in May and early June), she offers a bit of green-thumb wisdom: “Peonies are unsurpassed as a cut flower, and their fragrance is best appreciated indoors. Flowers should be gathered in the early morning. Peonies are ready to be cut when buds begin to show color and soften and feel like firm marshmallows.”
  • For best results, “Cut stems at an angle, and place in cool water. Change the water and trim the stems daily. Opening buds will last a week or more; fully unfurled blooms, a day or two.”

Did you know that peonies come in eight different shapes and forms? Stewart’s Peony 101 information is very helpful when it comes to determining the difference. These different shapes of peony include:

  • Anemone
  • Lotus
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Rose
  • Golden Circle
  • Crown
  • Single
  • Hundred Proliferate


“I must have flowers, always, and always.”

Claude Monet—the founder of French Impressionist painting—planted peonies (among many others flowers) in his famous gardens at Giverny. He considered this to be his greatest artistic work. Attributing his masterful painting to the beauty of flowers, Monet dedicated paintings to vases filled with lush, open peonies.

(“Vase of Peonies” by Claude Monet, 1882)

Surprise a Loved One with Fresh Peonies from Chelsea Flowers!

The “Uniquely Sweet” Bouquet from Chelsea Flowers—filled with pink peonies and spray roses—is the perfect gift for a loved one. With its feminine frills and soft hues, this romantic arrangement will immediately lift anyone’s mood.

Consult Chelsea Flowers for all your floral needs and, for more information on peonies and other topics mentioned in this blog, visit the websites listed below:

#chelseaflowers_london #chelseaflowers #flowers #OnTheBlog #peonies #springflowers