The Queen of Flowers : Peony

For our first blog entry we are diving into the stunning flower that resides in our very own logo: the timeless Peony. With a delicate scent, velvety soft petals and an ageless beauty, who wouldn’t want a bunch just for themselves?

History of the peony

Dating back to 1000BC, Peonies have been grown and cultivated. Since early in Chinese history, they once were the national flower and became particularly popular during the Tang dynasty where they were grown in the imperial gardens as well as used medicinally. In Chinese culture for more than a millennium, they have been known as the “most beautiful” flower that represents prosperity, elegance and is nicknamed the “monarch of the flowers”.

Later on, they made their way to Japan and from the fifteenth century on, peonies were grown in Europe. Originally during these medieval times, they were used for medicinal purposes intended to alleviate or treat headaches, asthma, epilepsy, snake bites, and even childbirth pain.

What do peonies mean?

Love, prosperity and honour. Three words exquisitely embodied by this flower whose countless shades of colour, along with its scent, have enchanted emperors and nobles throughout any number of eras and epochs.

Two different legends for the origins of the peony come from two very distant (and different) lands: China and Greece.

The term “Peony” can be traced to Paean, the Greek god of medicine, or the “attending physician” of the gods of Greek mythology.

One legend hearkens back to an episode in the Iliad, where Homer tells of how Paean was transformed into a flower by Zeus after he had used the roots of a plant with powerful therapeutic properties to heal the serious wounds suffered by the god Pluto in a fight with Hercules.

To protect the god Paean from the rage of his teacher Asclepius, who was furious over how the pupil’s healing powers had surpassed his own, Zeus gave the gift of immortality to the “doctor to the gods”, transforming him into the Peony plant, whose roots, with their countless medicinal properties, are still used today.

Fun Facts

  • A peony represents wealth and honor. It also embody romance and love, and are regarded as the omen of good fortune and happy marriage.
  • They are the 12th wedding anniversary flower.
  • A peony is one plant you will enjoy for a long time. Peony plants can live to be 100 years and still produce flowers.
  • Peonies bloom from late May through June in Toronto.
  • Peonies are native to Asia, Southern Europe and Western North America.
  • The peony is named after Paeon (also spelled Paean), a student of Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine and healing. Asclepius became jealous of his pupil; Zeus saved Paeon from the wrath of Asclepius by turning him into the peony flower.
  • The white peony is one of the oldest remedies in traditional Chinese medicine. Peonyroot is the part valued in Chinese medicine to treat conditions such as convulsion
  • The Chinese name for the peony is sho yuand this means “most beautiful”. No wonder why there are so many people fell in love with peonies for centuries if not millennia in myths.

Peony Season

As herbaceous perennials, peonies grow and bloom over the spring and summer. They die back every autumn and winter, then spring to life again (in Spring!) from their rootstock.