Full of Charm

Earlier this week I posted What a Whopper! which featured the gargantuan Peony ‘Red Charm’.  Now it is the turn of her more demure cousin, ‘Coral Charm’.

The flower bud has been tantalising me for weeks.  It is part of the peony’s allure that they start tickling your fancy in about March.


Their crimson shoots are the first of the herbaceous perennials to burst through the bare soil.  Then they unfurl their precision-cut foliage.

Then you get all excited when you spot the drumstick buds.

But don’t get too excited, because it’s going to be a long old wait.

The ants will primp and preen, like a rockstar’s entourage, touching up makeup and hair, making sure we are ready to roll.

And then finally, finally, when you’re just about ready to chew off the ends of your fingers, the curtain falls.

Peony ‘Coral Charm’ unfurling.

Can you believe that all of those petals were tucked up tight into a bud the size of a small plum?  And unlike a poppy, who is endearingly dishevelled first thing in the morning, the peony opens out perfectly coifed.  Compare:

Papaver orientale, freshly opened. Bed head.
Peony ‘Coral Charm’, like she just stepped out of the salon.

The peony’s charm is enhanced by sunlight.  This is at 4 o’clock in the afternoon.  The tips of the petals are illuminated, whilst the lower petals are in shade.  I love the deeper tones where the petals nestle and overlap, contrasted with the silken sunlit skirts.


The centre of the peony is paler than the outer petals.  These get more sun-faded, like vintage silk.  Here she is a couple of days later:

Peony ‘Coral Charm’

Here she is again, a little dishevelled after rain.  Just one representative of the ant entourage is back to see if she needs anything.  She’ll just shake her head and look perfect again.

Peony ‘Coral Charm’, coming out of the shower.

If we peer closely, we can see a few of the golden stamens, snuggled inside.

Peony ‘Coral Charm’, stamens just peeping.

The petals will open out to reveal a little coral reef of anemone-like golden stamens and fat green pods of carpels.


The petals will fade further, to pale peaches-and-cream.  I will come back to take a photo when this happens, and add a post-script.

Do you have a favourite peony?

My aim on this site is to share the sense of wonder I get from gardening and being outdoors. 

If you would like to join the joy, click on the ‘Follow’ button at the end of this post. You will receive an email each time I post a little pop of wonder. 

23 Comments Add yours

  1. janesmudgeegarden says:

    I have one peony that failed dismally in the hot spring we had last October, so I have to content myself with your beauties. You know, I rather like the Poppy’s unkempt appearance: it has a certain style. Devil-may-care?

    1. Ali says:

      I agree. I don’t iron either.

  2. FlowerAlley says:

    I liked how you brought us along through the peony’s progression. They do pop like poppies. I still love Duchess de Nemours best, but my Sarah Bernhardt has never bloomed. Your two are show-stoppers.

    1. Ali says:

      ‘Duchess de Nemours’ is one of my favourites. I think I have two. I inherited what I think is ‘Duchess’ which I have moved this winter because it was under a tree. I also bought a back-up. I will have to see if they are the same peony, as they are both going to flower this time.

  3. One of my favorite peonies, Ali, and your description of its “silken sunlit skirts” is perfect! What a lovely post.

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you. I am glad you enjoyed it.

  4. bcparkison says:

    I do need on or two or three of these. Beautiful

  5. Tish Farrell says:

    Glorious unfurlings. My garden doesn’t have enough space for peonies, so lovely to see yours.

    1. Ali says:

      I’m glad you liked them, Tish.

  6. You are making me fall in love with peonies!

    1. Ali says:

      It is easy to do!

  7. Eliza Waters says:

    What a stunner! EVERY peony is my favorite peony -lol!

  8. Robyn Haynes says:

    What a beauty! I wish I could grow peonies but it’s too hot here.

    1. Ali says:

      It’s good to be able to see flowers we can’t grow ourselves, isn’t it?

      1. Robyn Haynes says:

        Absolutely! I used to grow them when I lived in colder climbs. Loved the white ones.

  9. pommepal says:

    The way you described the unfurling of this beauty made me look closer at her. I agree she is a star.

    1. Ali says:

      Writing this blog makes me look at everything closer, Pauline. I am amazed at how much I was missing!

  10. And here I am again…..gorgeous. My poppies are about to pop…haven’t yet though but I’ve noticed that there are a lot if flower buds.

  11. Yes, I do have a favourite peony. It is called Aunt Sherry and was named after a friend/cousin of mine. Unfortunately the peony didn’t last and the name (and the plant) are no more. Still, Aunt Sherry persist in my garden, a delight every June.

    1. Ali says:

      Ah, that is really special! Was your cousin connected with a plant-breeder?

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