It wasn’t until last year I became aware that you can actually eat peonies. I knew for years that you could make a tea out of other flower petals like lavender buds and create a dried herb mix including them, or make a “tub tea” to soak in a tub with them in it but I didn’t know about peony petals never mind the roots and seeds.
They’ve only been around since, oh, a few thousand years?? First reports indicate that peonies dating back to 1000BC were grown in flower gardens in China, and that by the 8th century Japan became the leading producer of peonies (to this day). https://www.appleyardflowers.com/flowerdiaries/history-peony-flower/ Their popularity has spread throughout the garden world and today you’ll find almost a peony varietal in every colour under the rainbow. Truly a striking flower that attracts both humans and insects alike.
A bit of a story about my discovering peonies growing in our yard: we moved to the house we currently are in at the end of Aug 2018 long past peony season so I didn’t know what to expect. The front area where I could see 4 or 5 peony shrubs / plants were filled with scraps of this and that and lots of weeds. I tended to this area as much as I could before winter came. Two years ago we were in the thick of interior renovations and June that year was wedding prep time for one of our daughters getting married. I asked for forgiveness to the front yard plants and shrubs, did quick weeding but no blooms came on the peonies. Last year I was determined to “baby” that area, weeding, watering, using compost, etc.
And boy did I ever get a reward… and they showed up brilliantly again this year.
The dark peony flowers are from a wise long-living gardening friend, the expert on flowers and vegetables in our city, and lucky us, neighbour 3 doors down. We enjoyed the fresh scent for days and then when the petals started falling, I dried them.
Back to my peonies, I just used fresh but I will also be drying some as well. Perfect to add to a jar of Epsom salt. Adds such a pretty touch.
Peony and Lavender Honey Simple Syrup
Yes, and yes. You can totally consume these flowers. Go ahead, try something different!
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 Tbsp lavender buds fresh or dried
- 1/3 cup pink, white and/or red peony petals fresh or dried
- 1/3 cup raw honey to taste
Bring water to boil in a pot. Add flowers. Turn heat down to low/medium and steep for about 5 minutes. Turn heat to low, add honey, and stir. Continue steeping for about 5 minutes. Take off heat and steep for at least 1 ½ hours. Strain flowers and reserve syrup. Store in glass container in the fridge. Keeps for up to 2 weeks. Yield: ½ cup.
To use: add as a sweetener to any iced or hot drink. Lovely with freshly squeezed lemons as a lemonade or hot beverage, or any black, green, or red tea. Consider making a favourite cocktail if you'd rather.