Friday, October 29, 2010


I warned you, I warned you. The coral; peonies may be with with us a week or two at the most and then they will be gone!!

But there are other varieties coming now, amongst them are hot pinks and whites. One of my absolute favorites is the divine "Festiva Maxima"., a classic white hybrid paeonia lactiflora, that was hybridized about 160 years ago by the French breeder Auguste Meillez in 1851. It is still amazing to me that hybrids of peonies thta are over a hundred years old  are still with us, when it seems that rose varieties come and go every year!

This white flower is certainly one of my favorites, with an impossible amount of petals that unfurl from a small ping-pong sized bud. My analogy for this magnificent display is like those tantalizing ostrich fans used by burlesque dancers which slowly unfurl to reveal glimpses of flesh and creating an illusion of a naked lady. The sexual innuendo continues with three or four of the central petals which guard the ovaries being edged with a deep and erotic hue of carmine. Whether massed in large vases, or a just bloom or two on a bedside table, the effects are breathtaking and may be enjoyed over several days. Of course they are fabulous components for bridal bouquets, and may also repeated through all aspects of wedding decor to stunning effect.

And even as the "Festiva Maxima" blooms start to shatter at the end of their vase life, I find the dropping petals displaced around the container still so brilliantly white they remind me of the feathers of an exotic white cockatoo, that I enjoy this final act as well.

Incidentally, the name "Festiva Maxima" is Latin for 'Seriously chronic party!' - Enjoy!!!

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