Peonies and roses

I haven’t given up a centimetre of my allegiance to peonies at this stage of the summer, but all the bunches on sale in London are  lying around panting in the heat, and the flowers are blown to smithereens. I like to buy peonies in tight bud so that I can enjoy a good week of them whilst they open, petal by petal. (I put a teaspoon of sugar in the water these days which seems to help all of them to open – in past seasons some of them have mutinied and stayed closed for ever.) And more than anything, I try to hold out for white peonies: the absolute top of the mountain.

I looked at the pink peonies in the market this morning but they just weren’t right, so I bought these glorious roses instead. The guy selling them suggested keeping them in the fridge overnight, vase and all – which in this weather I’ll certainly try. Meantime, aren’t they absolutely gorgeous? I keep walking back into the room to have another look and to catch a ghostly waft of their scent.

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