Peonies’ “Repeated Refrains of Nature”

We’re watching our perennials begin to grow this slow-to-warm spring. Peonies (Hardiness Zone 3-8) are among the earliest herbaceous perennials to emerge from winter. We saw their red stems about the time daffodils bloomed.


Green leaves unfurl later as the warming sun shines several days in a row and rains fall. Finally, the plant produces buds that increase in size and open in colors of pink, red, white, or yellow, respective of their kind.

The growth period from the first peony stem shoot to budburst was 1.5 months. Did it take longer to grow and bloom than last year? According to photo dates, the same plant produced blooms in both years on about the same date.

Each year, spring in this region is erratic in temperatures and rainfall. The peony plant is most vulnerable to environmental stresses as it emerges, grows, and produces buds and blooms. Yet, it appears to reach maturity about the same time each year. Its hormones signal the plant to grow as conditions are more favorable. Its patience and persistence allow the plant to grow in the rhythm of erratic spring. With their ability to grow and flourish in Nature’s conditions, perennial peonies are often chosen for park or cemetery planting.

The May/June Horticulture magazine article includes a quote from Rachel Carson that fits the peony. “There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature.”

One of the peony’s daily responses to nightfall is closing its petals. In the early morning, the protective petals remained closed.

The same peony flower later in the day is shown with its petals almost unfurled.

The cut flowers of peonies also close and re-open each day indoors.

Is there another plant of interest to watch this season for Nature’s wonderment? 

Thank you for your visit to Plant Exchange Blog. Do browse in past posts on your favorite topic, such as trees or plants that grow here. Thanks for “Likes” on the topics you enjoy. High five to our “Followers” who seldom miss a weekly post.

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