Right about this time every year, my thoughts turn to gardening. Like any aspiring French girl, gardening, and particularly the flowers in the garden, are an important part of spring and summer. It is also right about this time when my peonies first start appearing.
You may wonder why I chose to single out the peonies in my garden, when I have so many flowers to choose from. Peonies, as well as lilacs, take me back to my childhood, and are really one of the first flowers I remember tending to as a young girl. On one of my first trips to a neighbor’s garden, I saw a huge plant with large, vibrantly pink color flowers that always appeared to be drooping because their heads were too heavy to hold straight. I asked her what the flowers were called and my neighbor replied, “Peonies – one of the most beautiful flowers.”
In very early times, peonies were not just known for their “looks”. Peonies – from the bark to the petals – were used for their medicinal purposes, reportedly among the Chinese and eventually the Greeks. Today, peonies are known for their beautiful petals, bright colors, and sweet, intoxicatingly fresh scent. If you don’t believe me, stop by a L’Occitane store to smell their new line of peony products. You’ll be floating on a cloud of peony petals in no time.
Although peonies can be found growing all over the world, one of the most common places to find them is in the Mediterranean. When I traveled to Spain a few years ago, I remember seeing a small field full of peony bushes of all different colors. I, of course, had no idea that they came is so many colors and could even grown in the wild (such a naive gardener!). Little did I know that there are hundreds of kinds of peonies and probably hundreds of colors of peonies as well.
Years later, when I bought my first house, I remember being very excited to find a peony bush in the back yard. Now, each spring, I get to enjoy a little bit of my childhood and the Mediterranean all over again. I admit, I am definitely not a master garden but my peonies make me try a little harder.