Peonies are BACK! You heard me, our beloved peonies are back! Wait, what? Most of you flower lovers are probably thinking, "No way. Peony season is late spring/early summer. We all know that!!" Well guess what folks, thanks to our globalized economy and incredibe advancements in cold-chain management, we (ie. peony lovers in the Great White North) can enjoy their gorgeous scent and voluptuous blooms courtesy of spring time in the Southern Hemisphere.
Now, I love using local, seasonal flowers, but I also love drop-dead, out-of-this-world, stunning flowers... which are sometimes imported. I feel a little guilty saying this but I actually think imported winter peonies are bigger and juicier than our local product - it might just be that after so many months without these gems I would go gaga for anything. But come on, try to use your objective eyes and tell me that gorgeous ball of pink fluff is not the most perfect peony you've ever seen!
Alas, I digress.
The real joy here is for peony loving winter brides. If you thought you had to squeeze your wedding date in May/June between your best friend's and your favourite cousin's nuptials and pay premium rates on your venue, caterer...etc just to cross your fingers that your beloved peony would be in season - fear not! Winter brides can still enjoy these luscious blooms in a variety of spectacular colours (white, light pink, deep pink, hot pink, rich red and coral - a crowd favourite the last couple years). Due to the strong sun and warm climate where they are grown, they might even be the nicest peonies you've ever seen!
It is important to understand that peonies come with quite a substantial price tag - whether in May/June or November/December, peonies are premium blooms that will definitely cost you. Many brides think choosing flowers that are "in season" means they will be cheap. The truth is that peonies will pretty much never be "cheap" the way daisies and carnations are because people love them and there will always be serious demand for them. Of course, due to the substantial costs of importing, local peonies will always be "cheaper" than their winter counterparts. Brides should expect local peonies to run between $5-10 each depending on the variety (those huge coral charm blooms are harder to produce and are in high demand due to the boom in coral and blush themed weddings). Imported winter peonies will be roughly double that, $10-20 each*. Just remember, the price might be huge but you don't necessarily need a bouquet full of these pricey blooms to blow your socks off. Two or three well-placed stems will take your bouquet from "nice" to "out-of-this-world gorgeous". And the splurge might be worth it when you consider the relatively "cheap"** cost of off-season venue bookings and a life-time of off-season anniversary getaways!
*Last winter I was working at a fabulous flower shop that did flowers for Martha Stewart when she was in town visiting. Martha is a renowned peony lover so we sourced the biggest coral peonies I've ever seen for her arrangement. Those puppies retailed for $22 each.
** I do hate the "cheap, cheaper, cheapest" approach to describing wedding related costs. I don't think I've ever heard of a "cheap" wedding. When it comes down to it, we are all looking for affordable options that honour and align with our values.