My favorite flower is the peony. The first time I heard of a peony was while playing a Japanese card game called hanafuda. The twelve suits, one for each month, are represented by different plants…mostly flowers. In Japanese peony is botan and it is a treasured and admired flower. I guess that’s true everywhere. But I lived in Hawaii. Peonies need a frost to bloom and we don’t have that. It was through this card game that I was introduced to these special botanicals of Japan.
I’m not sure when I saw my first peony in person…probably in a hotel…drinking wine…at the bar. But I fell in love. I love their color and layers and delicate petals. My friend, Ewa, said, “What is it about them???? That they captivate so many (me included)? These garish colors, and yet, just this very unapologetic – should I say, brazen – splash of the bright, common hues… total splendor!”
Kris spoiled me with them…buying them when they were in season at the wholesale florist, Watanabe Floral. Back in the 90’s they were no bargain, but, boy, they have shot up in price.
During the recent hurricane scare, we purchased a fair amount of water and we dropped the bottles off at Watanabe’s for Island Movers to ship to the Big Island. They are shipping canned goods and water to assist the people in Puna who are still without power and water. It’s a disaster. They were really hit hard by Iselle. We have friends who are among those without power or water. Before leaving the Big Island we delivered a hundred pounds of ice to them as they are living off a generator and have limited power. It’s a good thing the people in Puna are a pretty hardy stock…many never had electricity and they all have catchment water systems. A power supply is needed to pump water into their homes. The electric company is working hard to get power restored as quickly as they can, but there were a huge amount of power lines knocked out by falling trees.
Since we were at Watanabe’s, we splurged and bought a garnet peony for $9 – one stem! They are shipping them in from Holland. I believe it’s late in the season for the US mainland.
I love flowers and I try to bring flowers in from our yard when possible. On the Big Island, we have the luxury of having locally grown flowers – alstroemeria,gerbera daisies, dahlias, gardenia, cymbidium orchids…not to mention all the fabulous tropicals. It’s a little harder to find wide varieties of locally grown flowers on Oahu at a reasonable price.
Peonies in our house has been a guilty pleasure of mine…once a year…not too bad. We don’t even get them every year as peony season is also our busy season so we’re often out o town.
When I’m on the road in peony season, I’m always looking for these beauties. Once in Venice, I bought a bunch at the farmer’s market and just kept them on the night stand. This was in 2004, after our first job with a very special client.
In Laguna Niguel, Trader Joe’s sold bunches for $10 each. I had them around my hotel room in water bottles and any container I could find to use as a makeshift vase. This was during a really fabulous program where we rode on a yacht to follow a sailing regatta.
This was in 2009 and our cocker spaniels, Latte and Mocha, has just passed away a few months before so I traveled with their photos and set up an altar.
Last year when traveling with my good friend, Hnoi, we found a wonderful flower shop in Paris. It was like stepping into another time zone. We traveled back in time in this marvelous flower shop called Georges Francois. Of course, I bought peonies for my room there.
So now a single peony in a special bud vase from Kris is a treasure. Not having them readily available in Hawaii, make them more special and precious when I do find them.