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July 2019

The peony is named after Paean, who was a student of the Greek god of medicine, Asclepius. Zeus turned Paean into the peony to save him from the anger of Asclepius, who had become jealous of his student’s healing abilities. Peonies are native to north Japan, parts of Asia, parts of North America and southern Europe. It prefers woodland habitats, but can be found growing on mountainous terrain as well. The genus Paeonia is the only member of the Paeoniceae family. There are around 38 species of peony. The most popular herbaceous peony varieties are P.officinalis and P.lactiflora, while P.japonica is commonly grown in UK gardens. Peonies bloom in a number of colours including pink, peach, white and maroon. There are also herbaceous varieties, which die back in winter, and tree peonies that remain active throughout winter. Peonies prefer full sun and slightly alkaline, well-drained soil. If a peony becomes top-heavy with flowers, staking will prevent the stems from breaking. Once peonies die back in the autumn, they should be cut back to ground level. Did You Know? Peonies have been cultivated for over 2,000 years, more for their medicinal qualities than for ornament. The Japanese protect the earliest peony blooms from the snow by protecting them with individual small thatched shelters. The Greeks believed that peonies were an important medicine and could cure more than 20 ailments. The Chinese name for peony is “sho yu” which means “most beautiful”...

Care & tips for flowers When buying your cut flowers, ensure they are wrapped securely for protection when travelling and, if they are to be out of water for a long time, get the stems wrapped in damp tissue. Buy flowers from a reputable outlet, and choose blooms with firm petals or with buds that show a degree of colour to ensure the flowers will develop fully. Make sure that you thoroughly clean your vases as any bacteria that are left inside will kill your flowers. Cut stems at an angle as this gives the stem a bigger area to take up more water, and stops it resting on the bottom of the vase and sealing itself. Strip all leaves below the water level as they can’t take in sunlight and oxygen underwater. Avoid direct sunlight, heat, or draughts which can wilt your cut flower prematurely. Keep your cut flowers away from fruit as this causes them to wilt faster. Remove faded or dead flowers as they occur in order to keep the rest of the flowers healthy. Refresh the water regularly and add proper flower food as required....