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