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Marco Polo right on the money...

Updated: Jun 28, 2023

When I die, I hope it’s peony season and my children place full lush blossoms everywhere when they celebrate. Not that I’ve died, but the life I lived.

If I were to become a bride again, I’d want a bouquet of peonies this time. Amaranth in color.

Peonies represent romance and love and are considered a good omen of a happy union.

Any wonder a hapless romantic like me is so taken with the peony’s take-your-breath-away beauty?

I never had a garden where peonies grew. I never lived near flower beds or parks full of their luscious blooms. The peony, all 6,500 varieties in the world, has avoided me, a devoted gardener.

Peonies are outrageously luxuriant with the fattest, fullest, most scrumptious flowers and deep green foliage prone to creating gasp-worthy moments. They are perennials—in glorious shades of the deepest crimson to pale pink to bright pink to pure white—that come back every year and could live longer than their caretaker; some have been known to thrive for over 100 years.

Peonies do not grow in the Southern Coastal Zone where I live; they like colder climates.

So how am I so flush with peonies—a small bouquet of Firelight pinks in my kitchen looking like a cotton candy still life, a larger arrangement of Early Scout’s deep red in my living room, and a fading single white Elsa Sass on my bedside table?

I stumbled into Peony Land at Trader Joe’s one morning following a fragment scent—slightly rosy, a bit citrusy and somewhat spicy. My heightened sense of smell led me to the floral display. Sunflowers. Tulips. Carnations. And a collection of pink, red, and white flowers wrapped in floral paper, the buds slightly smaller than golf balls. The handwritten sign stuck in the middle of the waiting bouquets—Peonies. $9.99.

Do I dare spend ten bucks on this unknown floral entity I asked myself? Could this paltry assemblage of unopened blossoms amount to anything in my home? In my mom’s crystal vase? As I rounded the last section picking up a four-pack of ginger beer, I could no longer resist. I stuck one quintet of the dark red buds into the corner of my basket and headed for check-out.

Down the stairs the next morning headed for coffee, the vibrant splash of radiant red rounded puff blossoms stunned me. Overnight they had opened to full exquisite glory. Each petal a brilliant stroke of crimson. Sunlight accents danced in and around the five fabulous flowers. No longer tightened buds. Large, voluptuous lipstick red blossoms.

Marco Polo was right on the money boasting, “Roses as big as cabbages” when he first encountered the peony.

Since that moment I first encountered the peony just four weeks ago, I have purchased eight bouquets—different colors—for myself and given five bouquets as gifts.

I dread the end of my peony immersion season brought to me in living color by Trader Joe’s. And my secret wish is that I can age and fade as elegantly as that first bouquet I brought into my home. Vermillion red, the color of rubies. And regal.

And yes, I’d like my life to be celebrated with mounds of resplendent peonies.

Many seasons from now.


From other peony people:

Marilyn.Loved your post about peonies! Like you, I've indulged several times at Trader Joe's. $9.99 is a bargain for such beauty and joy! Have you tried their Peony Blossom candle and hand soap?Enjoy. Thank you for spreading the joy and beauty of peonies! Marty

You forgot to add that the delicate aroma of peonies remind many of us of our grandmothers.

I had a whole row of peonies in my tiny garden in Washington DC and they were glorious I LOVE PEONIES too !!RS

Long may you live and many more peonied may you adore!

I grew a peony by the name “ Festiva Maxima “ when I lived in the Hudson Valley : it is white w a daring dash of dark red in the center!

Now I go to TJ’s too. Did you get their Lilac season?


I love peonies!!! They do attract ants, though, so your table might "come alive" if you bring them inside from your own garden. Jill in Vancouver

When we first married we lived in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania so I was introduced to peonies in my 20’s and fell in love with them. When we moved back to Texas I was so sad to find they were not here. There when we got a Trader Joe’s in our neighborhood they brought them back to my life. I have enjoyed them so much even since.

My daughter, Kathy, lives in Rhode Island and has a beautiful bed of them every year. However I would not trade where she lives for a bed of peonies It is way too cold for way too long.

Ron is going to pick up some peonies when he goes out today. Thanks for reminding me.

Judy in Houston

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Jun 30, 2023

Thoroughly enjoyed learning about peonies and your descriptions so beautiful. Will put the words peony bouquet on my permanent TJ’s list❤️

Lynda M


A luscious love song to peonies. And glory to the gorgeous blooms. How I loved them every season of my young years, those that grew in my grandmother's yard. Voluptuous blossoms--a word I expect my grandmother would never use (voluptuous, that is)--that fed legions of ants for just that long. Who would ever think to create a peony? Thanks for this one, Marilyn. As gorgeous as you are.

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