Astonishingly beautiful, these showy pink blooms burst onto the scene in May and peak in June – blink and you might miss them.
Easy to grow and cited as one of the most carefree of all perennials, the sun-loving genus paeonia (their botanical name) can live for 50 years or more, but it takes about three years for their opulent blooms to become full sized.
Originally native to Asia, for some peonies symbolise prosperity, good luck, love and honour. One of our favourite flowers, here’s where to catch the best bouquets…
1. Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, London
One of Kew’s horticultural highlights on display this month, bees love peak peony season, especially when their petals open wide to reveal the pollen-rich stamens bees relish.
The Sarah Bernhardt peony bears big baubles of white and pink flowers and their delicate fragrance is as gorgeous as their feathery petals.
2. Spetchley Park Gardens, Worcester
When you walk among the insta-worthy peonies in Spetchley Gardens, you might want to pack a small tape measure to size up their stars – the width of a golf ball, the buds open up to three times their size, with some varieties measuring 19cm across.
Tree peonies bloom earlier than herbaceous peonies, boast larger blossoms and can grow up to – and even over – 150cm in height.
3. Aberglasney, Llangathen, Wales
Head to the gardens at Aberglasney and chances are, their ornamental borders will stop you in your tracks. The ‘Bowl of Beauty’ peony has electric pink flowers with a fluffy yellow core of perfumed petals.
4. Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Scotland
One of the oldest botanical gardens in Britain, the Woodland Garden at the RBG Edinburgh has an impressive array of peonies.
An added bonus, you’ll come across some of the world’s tallest tree species with ‘a cathedral-like atmosphere’ to crown its precious plantings. Wonderful and worth seeking out.
5. Mount Congreve Gardens, Waterford
Mount Congreve has a dedicated Peony Walk to celebrate the beauty of these splendid blooms.
Scented shrubs of lavender edge the path with tall varieties of peonies in classic shades of pale pink and cerise basking in the limelight. A showcase for their brief but bedazzling flowering season.