Fleur du Jour for a snowstorm - Peony

While new peonies are introduced every year, some of our garden favorites, and most popular cut peonies, were introduced in the the late 1800''s and early 1900's. Sarah Bernhardt, a favorite pink variety was first introduced in 1906, while Duchesse de Nemours was introduced in 1856 and remains a sought after white. Some of the popular coral varieties were more recently introduced - Coral Charm in 1964 and Pink Hawaiian Coral in 1981. I am sure they will remain popular for centuries to come. This spring I expect to offer another very interesting old-timer called Gay Paree. It is a pink and white two-toned peony, which I think will be absolutely spectacular for event work and everyday bouquets and arrangements. Gay Paree was first introduced in 1933. Imagine the changes our world has seen. If peonies could talk! Only 120 days, and many, many snowflakes to peonies 2015!

As the snowflakes shush to the ground here with a soft chorus and our Blizzard 2015 unfurls, I call upon Peonies for today's Fleur du Jour and thoughts of spring. It is magical watching peonies develop from the tightest round buds akin to pin heads, to hard, marble-like buds, and then slightly-open marshmallow buds, which finally burst open into breathtaking blooms.  

Throughout, it is common to see ants marching up and down the stems to garner the sweet sugars, which peonies secrete as their buds develop. Peonies can live for decades, and some for even more than a hundred years.

A Wedding with Coral Peonies and Sherbet Palette

Coral peonies, vibrant tulips, and soft astilbe make a smashing bouquet.

Coral peonies, vibrant tulips, and soft astilbe make a smashing bouquet.

One of the first questions Danya asked was, "Do you grow coral peonies?'


Coral was going to be her color. Then, coral metamorphosed into sherbet colors, and, wow, what a fabulous combination it became.  


Nearly a year later, coral and sherbet were absolutely smashing.  

Pew flowers add a beautiful touch.

Pew flowers add a beautiful touch.

Congratulations Danya and Steve. I loved working with you and your families, watching your wedding plans evolve into a lovely ceremony at Greens Farms Congregational Church and a heavenly reception in your Westport home. Every detail was driven by love for a very happy occasion.


Pew flowers graced several of the pew ends along the church's two aisles. Yes, two aisles.  It is quite an interesting and beautiful church. The church grounds are absolutely stunning as well.


From the start, the big question was, "How will coral blend (or not blend) with the red fabric seating and carpeting?"


I'd say it worked quite nicely!





Two aisles, of course, necessitated two matching altar pieces.



Both lovely.










Flowers arriving at a reception create such an overwhelming and awesome blossom of color!




Here are Danya's and Steve's flowers making their grand entrance. 



Mercury pedestal vases and mercury juleps were an awesome combination.


Just love the elegance of mercury glass! Did anyone say, "Sherbet?" Yum.

Mercury glass pedestal vases looked great.

Mercury glass pedestal vases looked great.



Can't imagine anything nicer than working with all of these amazingly beautiful blooms. 


And, did I tell you, stock has the most amazing fragrance?

Mercury glass juleps paired wonderfully with the pedestal vases.

Mercury glass juleps paired wonderfully with the pedestal vases.

A lovely setting for a late May wedding.

A lovely setting for a late May wedding.



Now, the finished look. Gorgeous with a beautiful, delicate, white runner gracing the farm tables, and light linens atop the round tables. 

Couldn't have been nicer.








Here's a look at a pedestal on the round tables from overhead.


Love the choice of table runners and linens.

If I were the bride, this is where I would like to sit!



Of course, the groom would have to sit very close by!



Every wedding is so personal and unique. When people say, " It is your special day," there is great truth in the words.  






Do flowers make the cake?

Do flowers make the cake?

New to me was working flowers into a "deconstructed" cake - three separated layers and using 'cake vases" on each of the cakes.  Thank you, Danya, for introducing me to something new.  Instead of inserting flowers directly into the cakes, or into frosting on the cakes, a cake vase sits atop the cake and one inserts flowers into the plastic vase.  

This is actually the smallest of the cakes, and the cake vase certainly allowed for a wonderful display of blossoms and color.

At the end of the day, I must say, I loved sitting in the kitchen and talking flowers with out-of-town family members while putting the flowers on the cakes.  I loved creating a floral wreath for the little one in the family. I loved working coral peonies into an awesome sherbet palette. 

Congratulations Danya and Steve. A beautiful wedding it was! I thoroughly enjoyed working with you and your families. Love always!







Peonies... sigh.....

Who doesn't love a peony?  Such a remarkable and gracious plant.  Many live for fifty years or more -truly for generations.  Countless stories are told of daughters and granddaughters (and maybe sons and grandsons) digging family peonies so they might be saved for even more generations.  They make such a lasting impression even though they can be somewhat fleeting.  What is it about them?  Their soft colors? Their fragrance? The fact that so many people and families have them and have had them for, as I said, generations?  Something about them always seems to conjure up memories.  Such a wonderful floral inhabitant!


For those of you who visited the Farmers' markets in New Canaan, Greenfield Hill and Christie's Country Store in Westport this past weekend, ou saw firsthand some of the wonderful variety afforded by peonies.  We brought with us several coral-colored beauties - truly eye-catching indeed - along with the very soft single pink blushes, the slightly deeper pink double varieties, our earliest whites, and the first of our crimson doubles.  We will be sure to have more this coming weekend at each of our markets, and we'll be featuring them in our subscription bouquets.  Because we grow several varieties, the length of time during which we have peonies in bloom is extended.  Having said this, these babies sure were popping this past weekend in the heat wave!  For us to pick each one at its peak, we become true peony stalkers.  No kidding.  Every few hours (that's over four times a day) we were out checking to see which ones were thinking about popping open, and which ones were not quite ready.  If you turned your back for a moment, they seemed to spring open.  Like that proverbial pot that never boils when you're keeping a watch on it but... you know the rest of the story!

One of our double reds at market this week.  A bit more pink-toned than crimson.

One of our double reds at market this week.  A bit more pink-toned than crimson.

ith such a gorgeous plant, and all of my aforementioned praise, you would think it difficult to have a related pet peeve, but I do.  It is this: the most common comment I hear about peonies is how beautiful and fragrant they are (agreed) but the second most common comment I hear is, "My peonies were fine until the big rain storm we had, and then they just went 'kersplat.'" What I want everyone to know is that flowers will certainly lose their petals when it is time, but there are wonderful plant stakes, which will help keep your blooms upright and in tact, even in the face of heavy rains and you might not have to lose your flowers to the ground or as quickly as you might be losing them. Some of these devices are a combination of several stakes and hoops and encircle the entire plant (but put them on while the stems and leaves are coming up not after) and some are simply coated metal stakes with a slightly open loop at the top end, which makes staking super easy.  This simple loop stake is perfect for encircling individual stalks with flowers, and this is all you need to do. Sometimes, in the wind, the stem will escape the loop, but, generally, the stakes work in such an easy and superb fashion that I see no reason for anyone to grow a peony without them. So, no more reason to bemoan the fact that the poor peony, with the large, beautiful flowerhead,  doesn't seem capable of keeping itself upright in the face of heavy rains owing to its plethora of water-catching (did you say, "Sponge-like?") petals.  For very few dollars, the problem is easily solved.  Please, buy some stakes now, and be ready for next year! Yes, it is likely too late for this year.