Beloved Flower Lover,
Peony Fact sheet
The Peony means……………. Happy marriage, Bashfulness, Prosperity! An excellent choice to start your marriage off on the right foot,
History, myths, legends and symbols frequently arose from early man’s attempts to explain natural phenomena. In the case of peony flowers, botanists and natural philosophers of antiquity noticed the intimate relationship between peonies and ants. The discovery was eventually made that peony flower buds need to have ants present in order to properly open. Hence, this very specific and intimate relation between the ant and the flower became a powerful and well-known symbol, which was shared across numerous lands and ancient cultures.
To the Chinese, the peony symbolizes wealth and good fortune. More specifically, the closed flower and the ants, who labour to help it open, symbolize industriousness and optimism while the completely open flower represents peace and the rewards of labour.
Peonies date to at least 1,000 B.C. These long-lived plants, some of which are known to survive for as long as 100 years, are prized for their sturdy foliage, lush blooms and sweet scent. Early American settlers brought peony plants across the ocean and planted them on American soil to remind them of the homes they had left behind.
In Victorian times, the slow process of the peony flower’s opening, impossible without the intimate and loving attentions of the ants, came to symbolize female purity and chastity. Indeed, it was in Victorian England where the peony became associated with white weddings as the delicately-veiled, virginal bride slowly and coyly revealed her noble beauty to her new husband.
As such, the peony was often considered a potent symbol of romance, especially when compared to roses. Where roses were given to win her heart, peonies represented the moment of lifetime commitment where her heart was won, and two truly become one.
Peony blossoms come in shades of white, cream, pink, rose and deep red; yellow-flowered peonies are rarer. They bloom only in late spring or early summer, and their glossy leaves remain an attractive backdrop to the perennial border throughout the growing season. Plants are available in both herbaceous (meaning that the leaves die to the ground each winter) and tree forms.
The herbaceous Paeonia lactiflora, also known as the Chinese peony, is probably the best known and most widely grown.
When first cultivated by the Chinese, peonies were bred to produce huge, double blooms. When the plant was introduced to Japan, it was hybridized to produce more simple flowers, which became known as the Japanese form.
Paeonia suffruticosa, the tree peony, is a deciduous shrub usually between 3 and 4 feet in height, although some varieties can reach 6 feet.
Together with the plum blossom, the peony is a national floral symbol of the country of China. The Chinese name for peony means “beautiful” and in Chinese culture the flowers represent riches, prosperity and honour.
In Western culture, the peony serves as the symbol for the 12th wedding anniversary, and in the language of flowers, represents good fortune and a happy marriage.
In Victorian times, it might also have represented bashfulness, since mischievous nymphs were said to hide in its magnificent petals.
The ancient Chinese discovered that the peony’s bark, roots, seeds and flowers served as medicine. Mu Dan Pi, a remedy made from the bark of the tree peony, was believed to cool the blood and provide antiseptic properties. Chi Shao Yao, made from the roots of the herbaceous peony, was believed to cool the blood and provide pain relief.
When the peony was brought to Europe in the 1200s, it was used to ease childbirth, ward off evil spirits and cure gallstones. Although peonies have been used continually in traditional Eastern medicine, they have not been used in Western medicine since medieval times. The buds and leaves of the peony are used in China to make a delicate white tea which many believe to have medicinal qualities.
The feng shui use of the flowers symbol is based on the same universal feeling that flowers evoke in all humans – a feeling of beauty, grace, and a delicate, alive sensuality.
This especially applies to a couple of pink peonies. The symbol of peony is considered a metaphor for female beauty. Some feng shui masters do not recommend having the image of a flowering peony in an older couple’s bedroom in order to prevent affairs with younger women.
The peony is the state flower of Indiana, and With their lush, full, rounded bloom, peonies embody romance and prosperity and are regarded as an omen of good fortune and a happy marriage.
The London Flower Lover