Many northern gardeners hold a little bit of envy in their hearts for their southern counterparts - because one of the most voluptuous of all flowers simply won't give up it's ruffled, many-petaled treasure in our too-warm northern climates.
Peonies need a little bit of the arctic on their back to perform at their best. I have discovered that a commercial grower in Blenheim gives locals buckets of peonies to sell on the roadside for just $5 a bunch. I drove past about three times before it got too much, and I had to turn down the side street for a look. On my next visit, Joe had these two bunches waiting on the dining room table.
I hope the season lasts long enough for me to get more photos of them next time I'm down. I could look at their blowsy petals and the subtle gradations of colour for hours on end: I think they're truly a miracle of nature. I adore roses, and have had up to 100 different roses in my own garden, but peonies are just over-the-top, absolutely gorgeous!