Peonies pile on the pleasure of early summer

What a gladsome thing a peony is!  Peonies are the ‘over-the-tops’ of late spring and early summer from the buxom ‘officinalis’ beauties so often seen in cottage gardens to the glamorous ‘suffruticosa’ tree peonies with their sumptuous blooms. About 12 years ago, I fell for one of these in a garden-centre; it’s called Handaijin (very dully translated as ‘Minister of Flowers’  – hang on, that’s quite a good idea for the next time we have a Cabinet Reshuffle”…) , it is now six feet tall, with the most beautiful grey/pink leaves preceding lots of frankly unbelievable dinner-plate sized flowers of bright reddish-purple.  (I see

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