It's not often that the Toad extols about a cut flower, but this is different: peonies are here! Even though just about anything and everything can grow in Los Angeles, peonies are the exception. They crave a freeze, and thus don't just magically pop up in our gardens like lilies and roses.
But sometimes, waiting for something extraordinary makes it that much more satisfying. The season for the peony is upon us, and you should embrace it by buying them by the bunch and passing them out to every friend and relative you've got. Here's why: peonies are absurd. They're fluffy, unrefined, exuberant, explosive, old-fashioned, and the whole damn wedding in a single bloom. And the great thing is, you don't have to submit to wedding rigors to have them sit in your home. They'll work in any environment, mostly because they really don't match with anything at all. Right now, I have a bunch of fuchsia ones that have opened up so enormously, they look like one flower. Silly.
Trader Joe's or your local farmer's market are both ideal places for picking up peonies on the cheap (between $6-$10 for a bunch of 5). Just remember to buy them with tight, unopened blooms, then use hot water in the vase. They'll unfurl into gloriousness in a couple of hours, and should last almost a week. And they'll make you and yours smile with every viewing.