Peony Plant Portrait

This much-extended plant family encompasses a huge variety of flowers, many fragrant, which range in colour from ghostly white through cream and lemon to lipstick pink, scarlet and deep red. It is no wonder, then, that peonies top the list of plants for adding dazzling splashes of colour to perennial borders in late spring and summer.

The sheer variety of these exquisite flowers comes from the hundreds of different cultivars that have been bred from the 25 or more species peonies. Few flowers have such a long history, stretching back at least 4000 years to an era when the wild Chinese peony Paeonia lactiflora was cultivated. The name derives from Paian, physician to the Greek gods, and the medicinal properties of peony seeds and roots are mentioned in countless ancient books on medicinal herbs. By the Middle Ages, peonies were widely grown in monastery gardens, gradually finding their way into cottage gardens.

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