Peonies are by far my favorite flower in the garden. From late May and into early June is their time of year to shine. Some are more fragrant than others, but all come with delicious-looking blossoms that I look so good I do occasionally wish I could eat them.
I have taken countless photographs of peonies. Right now I have about 30 plants scattered around my garden. A few are of the tree peony variety; most are the typical garden types that die back to the ground each year. I have dug them up and moved them many times, and they always seem to survive. They are very hardy, good for cold-weather areas. Even after their blooms are spent, they go on growing with thick, green foliage that rarely sees pests or diseases.
This year all the plants are fat with buds and I’m very excited. Ants have been tending them, enjoying the sweet, clear juices that seep out. I’ve read over the years that the ants are bad, that I should try to get rid of them. But it seems to me–in my observations– that the ants are a good sign. The blossoms always mature when they come and find them.
My first red peony opened yesterday. It has little scent, but is filled with bright yellow stamens (the male part of the flower). Deeper inside and much less showy, lay the carpels, the rounded and female parts of the flower. If fertilized, they will eventually develop into seeds for the next generation.
The inner workings of the peony flower remind me of the ocean floor. I have snorkeled along reefs and seen the bright, silent landscape of that other world. Strange to find on land something so akin to the exotic coral or billowy anemones living deep underwater. Even the colorations are similar. Designed to attract the attention of predators and pollinators, they are just too lush and inviting to pass up.
I wish I could crawl inside one and hang out there awhile, like the insects do. But I can only go on taking their bewitching photos, and dream.