The Art of Peony Flowers

I’m sure I’m not the first person to sing the praises of the beautiful peony flower. The flower is not a long lasting one -- you won’t see peony’s bloom longer than two weeks or so and that is one of the reasons they are special. Like many of the short lived blooms we experience in the northeast, the peony can be both beautiful and frustrating. Frustrating because sometimes all it takes is a strong storm to destroy the peony blossoms at their peak.

I was looking forward to visiting some farms and capturing the flowers for a new series but after 3 days of rain, I was starting to think the season was going to be non-existent. Fortunately the storms ended and with it the blossoms arrived in their beautiful glory. I am lucky to live near a few wonderful peony farms and gardens and so once the blooms arrived, I planned my visit.

Long Valley Peony Farm is a hidden farm set back from the road. I say hidden because up until a few years ago, neither I, nor many of my neighbors even knew it existed. The long driveway that leads to the farm is a bit bumpy but once you arrive, the site and scent of blooming peonies is breathtaking. Phil, the owner, is wonderful and welcoming, and if he’s not busy, he’ll take the time to walk you through the fields, and cut some stems for purchase. His business is wholesale but the stems can be purchased at his farmstand as well. He offers many different varieties in soft pastel colors but my personal favorites are the Mrs FDR and Coral Charm.

 
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Long Valley Peony grows flowers for wholesale and so it is a bit of a different experience from visiting Peony’s Envy located in the hills of Bernardsville. I’ve wanted to visit Peony’s Envy since I heard about it last year but by the time I was ready, the blooms had faded. This year I planned better and purchased a ticket in advance. Peony’s Envy is a true garden visit. She is only open a few weeks for visiting so you must plan well. She has many different colors and types including tree peonies which bloom earlier than the others. Every available space is planted with the rich beautiful flowers.

 
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After my visit I got down to the art part of my project. I had purchased a large bouquet of MRS FDR at Long Valley Peony so once the buds bloomed, I got to work capturing my art. I’ve captured peony bouquets before so I knew what I was looking for in my final images. I wanted simple, blooms against either black or white paper. I love the idea of capturing a sole bloom against a dark background. The black really brings out the beauty and color of the cut flower. I also love capturing peonies against white -- they are such a lovely cottage flower and they lend themselves well to shabby chic style art. The blooms lasted long enough for me to capture both and while I haven’t decided how or what I will do with the end product, below is the result.

 
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