Peonies and Hollyhocks
Peonies are one of the oldest documented blossoms. Peonies were in existence 1400-4000 years ago in China. The peony flower is considered a blossom of wealth. In past days, if one could afford a peony plant in their garden they were certainly a prosperous family. For the flower shop, peonies come on around Mother’s Day and Memorial Day. They can be bought at your local wholesaler or at a local farm. We used to purchase peonies grown in Grand Junction, Colorado at a local grower. We would get buckets and buckets and buckets of them. The excitement was on. They come in very tight buds. It is only after a few days in a warm shop they begin to burst open. They are so showy, they sell themselves. Everyone has to have some!!
Peonies come in a nice range of colors from ivory to soft blush, to lavendars, purples and burgundies. They are a very large showy flower, with one big blossom and a few buds on each stem. The stems can range up to two feet tall. Peonies have lush green foliage, almost making it unnecessary to add other foliage to the arrangement. They are fragrant and fairly long lasting. Peonies can be used in floral designs, corsages, memorial pieces, wreaths, and vase arrangements. They can be used fresh or dried. Drying peonies is easy. Just hang blossoms upside down in small loose bunches. Do not crowd. Hang in a dark, cool space. They retain their color very well. They can be sprayed with a specifically designed dried flower sealant when dry, about 2-3 weeks.
Peonies make an impressive, old-fashioned bouquet. While they are very seasonal, it is good to get all you can out of them while they are available. This is a flower that will keep customers coming back year after year. Hollyhocks have to be one of my most favorite flowers. They are easy to grow and forgiving. Of course they can be bought at your local wholesaler as well, in season. You will see them growing along ditch banks and anywhere the wind happens to blow the seeds. They are a tall flower, reaching up to three feet. They range in colors from white and ivory to pinks, reds, purples, and magenta, almost black. Traditionally, hollyhocks are associated with cottage gardens. They need to be planted in the rear of a mixed border or along a wall. There are both single and double forms. Hollyhocks seed freely and will always come back from seed year after year.
In floral designs, hollyhocks make nice line flowers, establishing the height and width in a design. Add carnations and daisies for an attractive garden look. Add foliage such as ivy, asparagus fern and wax flower for a more upscale look. As a matter of fact, peonies and hollyhocks together would make an absolutely stunning design. And for the June bride, well if it is different they want, peonies and hollyhocks, ranging from off white to blush pink to a greening tint, would look spectacular. Again, accent with asparagus fern, ivy and wax flower, maybe even a little heather. Wow!! Beautiful!! Once again, always be creative and different. Do not be afraid to offer your customer savvy and unique. Your shop will stand out from the rest and you be viewed as an artist of floral design.