Flower Profile: Peonies

The fattest and most scrumptious of all flowers, a rare fusion of fluff and majesty...

That's from American writer Henry Mitchell. And what was he talking about? Peonies! Fluff and majesty, indeed! Let's get into it.

Peonies have a look brides love. (Note - we usually strive for gender-neutral language, but dudes aren't usually psyched about flowers. For this blog post, we'll use "bride" instead of our usual "couple". Thanks!) They're big blooms, dense with ruffly petals, and come in range of colors that mostly would be considered feminine. They're especially lovely in that shade of pale, pale blush pink that so many brides go ga-ga for. Check it out:

Image by Peony's Envy (haha!)

Image by Peony's Envy (haha!)

When using peonies in a bouquet, you only need a few of them to really make an impact (like the Coral Charm peonies in the photo below on the left). Their size and showiness means that they'll be one of the dominant flowers in your bouquet, unless you decide to go monofloral. A bouquet made solely of peonies looks beautiful too, especially when using peonies of a single color!

Photo by Ellamah

Photo by Ellamah

Photo by KT Merry

Photo by KT Merry

One of the big downsides of peonies is that they're not available for weddings all year round. Well, OK, they ARE, but they're expensive if you buy at the wrong time of year. Peonies tend to be pricey during the best of times, so you better believe they're going to be even more so outside of their peak growing season. And on top of that, they won't be as pretty as the regular season blooms! They're normally available from early spring through the end of June, which is excellent news for Southern brides, as most couples want to get married in the spring or fall and avoid getting married on those 100% humidity days. (My friends from other parts of the country are always shocked to learn that summer weddings aren't popular in the South. July and August get HOT here, Yankee buddies!)

If you're looking to use an alternative flower, there are a couple of great choices. Below, you'll see a spread of many different flowers that have that lush, hundred-petal look that so many of us love about peonies. (All images from FiftyFlowers.com.)

Peony

Peony

Garden Rose

Garden Rose

Ranunculus

Ranunculus

Carnation

Carnation

Football Mum

Football Mum

Double Tulip

Double Tulip

Are you surprised to see carnations in the mix? Don't be! Carnations get a bad rap, but they are actually very ruffly and quite beautiful once they begin to open up. And despite their reputation as the bright red cheapo flowers you give away on Valentine's Day, you can get them in a variety of colors, like champagne and pale apricot, that are just as soft and romantic as anything else out there. (Maybe they'll even be the subject of a future Flower Profile.)

Which peony alternative is the prettiest? Would you ever pick your wedding date based around a flower's availability? Let us know in the comments section!