A sure sign of impending summer is the long-awaited appearance of the peony. It is greatly admired and revered in China and has unofficially been regarded as its national flower. More than ever, peonies have been popping up for sale here in the Seattle area (and I imagine elsewhere). When Costco and Trader Joe’s begin to sell it, you know that it has gone mainstream. We have four plants in our yard that have yet to flower in four seasons, doubtless a problem of not enough sun exposure and improper soil amendment, though the plants have gotten taller and the root balls bigger. So we have to rely on enjoying these beauties at gardens and purchasing them from sellers.
At the many Hmong flower stalls at farmers markets here, peonies are currently the centerpiece of most arrangements. Today at the Issaquah Farmers Market, there were peonies in all the flower stalls and one astonishing variety (pictured above) sold exclusively at a vegetable stand. The pictures below illustrate some of the many arrangements we saw today.