Beautiful, ephemeral and just a little ridiculous.

 

 

A bunch of late season paeonies on a sunny windowsill.

 

 

In early summer paeonies (or pivoines) are sold by the bunch in Paris markets as commonly as daffodils and tulips in the spring.  Although the flowers look extravagantly exotic they have been cultivated in the Paris region since the early nineteenth century, when the Emperor of China made the gift of a collection of paeony varieties to Empress Josephine.  Most paeonies sold in France are now cultivated in the south east of the country but they are still a short season, open field crop as the plants need a cold winter to ensure the next season’s flowers.

 

 

It’s late in the season for paeonies and this bunch were almost fully open by the time they arrived in our local market.  They would last a little longer if kept in the shade but the windowsill is the place to admire their short-lived beauty, back lit by leaf-filtered sunlight.