I was surprised to see bunches of single Peonies in a local shop in May. I have been buying and using the
double variety for a while, and they have been popular for Summer weddings in the form of hand tied
bouquets. I find they are of such perfect form that they work best arranged just by themselves, though
for one wedding I arranged them with Alchemilla Mollis (the lime green Lady’s Mantle) and spray roses.
The church was arranged in the same way and even the button holes were Peonies.
I sought out an old green frosted container for my first design (I think it is Art Deco) and filled it level to the brim with wet foam. I arranged the flowers simply with lots of space between them, cutting the fully developed flowers slightly shorter than the buds.
I added very little foliage and covered the remaining visible foam with green glass pebbles. These flowers
lasted a whole week until the petals began to fall, and even then the large seed heads were interesting.
I kept back one Peony to add to the ‘Georgian’ design in the basket.
It is a very old basket, painted white. Inside I placed a shallow plastic dish and foam up to the top of the
basket. The height of the foam enabled me to put some flowers through the holes in the basket sides.
I also bought a bunch of small roses (flowers of the past were much smaller and still highly perfumed) but
the rest of the flowers were from my Spring garden. I chose a predominantly pink and blue colour palette but could not resist a couple of sprays from my Canary Bird rose which has produced a profusion
of yellow flowers this year. I tried to arrange the flowers loosely for we have no idea what, if any, mechanics were used to support the plant material, and as the container is a basket it is quite possible that no water was provided and the flowers were placed in the basket ‘just for the moment’.
There are paintings from the era which show such baskets tied with blue ribbon and hung outdoors from
tree branches. What a lovely idea for an Alfresco party.
This design did not last as long. The sheer variety of plant material meant that things faded at different times. Included in the basket were Clematis, ‘Queen of the Night’ Tulips, Geranium, Bluebells (the first to fade), Spirea and Lilac. To prolong the life of the Lilac I stripped away all the leaves enabling the water to get directly to the flower heads. Finally I tied a ribbon of blue to the handle to emulate the painting.