May 30, 2011

The Joys of Being Single

My last post was on the joys of married life, in honor of our recent wedding anniversary.  To balance things out, I am posting now about being single.  It is a far superior state of being.

If you are a peony.

I only grow one: 'Blaze'.  Even its name is simple --- one saturated syllable.
Jim took this photo.  I can't get one of the intense hue of this peony

I do not care for the big blowsy floppy peonies that are frilly and too full.  I like peonies that are single, that open wide and cup-like, and stand up proudly.

Techinically 'Blaze' is a double or Japanese peony, with several overlapping petals.  It is not strictly the single style with its simple rows of petals and guard petals.  But it is not the bomb ball that flops and is a mess.  It opens cupped, and then flat, like the true singles, to show off the golden treasure inside.

Mine is virtually impossible to photograph.  The scarlet petals have some kind of sheen to them that reflects even the lowest light.
Jim's photo, late in the day

I love the color, and I like the simple blooms with their yellow centers.

Missouri Botanical Garden had a sumptuous row of peonies in bloom when we were there in mid May.  They lined a walk in the Japanese garden in lovely shades of pink and white.  Like their wild iris garden, MoBot had jumbled all the peonies together in a mass of colors and forms.

In all the impressionistic swirl of their peony border, it was the singles that stood out for me.  They are just so simple and so pretty.

My red peony 'Blaze' lives up to its name: it blooms in a fiery show for only a week in late May.  It pairs with 'May Night' salvia, and the deep purple and blazing red are a great combination that gives my emerging spring garden a pop even from afar.

Give me a single peony any day.  Or a double, really.  Pastel and demure, or fiery and bold, it is the color and the elegance of the flower that gets attention.  You don't need extra petals and exploding bomb effects.


  1. I too grow the singles because they stand up to the weather a bit better. Mine is Krinkled White. It is similar to your Blaze with a yellow center. The photo Jim took really brings out the color, tell him he has a wonderful photo. Makes the husbands feel special.

    Mine can not even hold a camera, let snap a shutter. I bought him one of those point and shoots for his fishing trips, and what a disaster. First trip, the photos where all blurry and framed poorly, then next trip, the camera went to the bottom of the Niagara River.

  2. I don't have much experience with these babies except that I notice they do flop over wherever I see them. I don't think I knew there were any peonies that didn't do that. I've received five that are now in the Generator Garden. I doubt they'll bloom this year (I see no buds and the transplant has made them cranky), but I'll be curious to see what I have.

  3. Your peony collection is quite beautiful. I have only one, a peony tree. I wouldn't have another because when it blooms so beautifully it rains and makes all the petals fall off. It rarely lasts more than a day. Booooo

  4. Donna, You have me laughing about the camera in the Niagara River! I hope he is a better fisherman than photographer.

    Wendy, it's wonderful to get plants and then see what they develop into. I hope you got some beauties (and maybe some singles in there, you can tell I like them best among all peonies).

    Lisa, peonies live a long long time, but only bloom a short while each year. I was so glad they were out when we were at MoBot.

  5. Hi Laurrie,
    When we moved in I inherited many double peonies and I have come to love them. If I had been left to my own devices however, I most probably have chosen singles instead. As you say, the heavy blossoms flop to the ground. I cope by picking them all! It is not such a bad problem, as problems go. I like your pretty red one and a simple white one in one of the other photos also caught my eye.

  6. Oh my, that single white is a stunner! I am really getting quite smitten with the elegance of the simpler peonies. Maybe something for my "dream" list? :)

  7. Jennifer, how great that you inherited plants with your house. Especially peonies.

    Garden Ms. S., be sure to put a few single, simple peonies on your list!


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