The Peony


I have a single peony plant in my garden. It was here when we moved in, and when I first noticed it, it was kind of gangly. It had been plopped into a tricky area of the yard that tends toward shade as spring progresses.

The peony wasn’t thrilled. It had grown leggy, and when its three walloping buds finally opened, it fell over under their weight.

I blamed the ants. I’d seen them marching up and down the peony’s stems in the weeks before it bloomed, and I was certain they had wreaked some sort of havoc on the plant.

But I was wrong. The ants had only been after nectar. At that time, I really didn’t know much at all about peonies or ants. Eventually, I figured out that what the peony really needed was more light. And, I apologized to the ants for suspecting them.

A few years later, I moved the peony to a spot with more sun…but still not enough. It did better. There were four blossoms instead of three, but the plant still toppled when they opened. Peonies are very buxom plants. If they were women, you’d say they had a “bosom”.

So, I tried one last time. Last fall, I moved the peony to a spot where I was sure it would get plenty of light. And, just in case the light didn’t solve the problem, I put one of those circular cages around it for extra support. A bra, if you will.

But the peony hasn’t needed it. This year the peony is thriving. It’s standing tall and proud in all its full-bodied flory. I think the extra sun was all that was required.

And it smells gorgeous. I think I may like the scent of peony almost as much as I like the smell of a lilac.

And the ants?


They’re still marching up and down the stems. They’re big fans of the peony too.

From the dining room table, with the cat staring at me pointedly in hopes that I will hurry up and feed her,

Mrs. Smythe

8 Comments on “The Peony

    • Thank you, TeaLady! Flowers are among my favorite things to take pictures of.

  1. I learned so much from this blog. I, too, have two peonies with a puny amount of buds. both bushes received only afternoon sun. Also, I didn’t know that the ants were necessary. Great reading today.

    • Still not sure the ants are necessary – but they’re kind of cute. As long as they stay out of the house.

  2. Did you know that peony buds won’t open with out the ants. They are
    the only flower where the ants help them to bloom. To my knowledge
    its the only flower where you see them also.

    • I have heard that, but most of the sites I looked on last night before I wrote the post said that that was a myth. But it’s true that I don’t ever see ants on any of my other flowers.