The peonies are juuust starting to open up.
I picked one for a small vase.
If rhododendrons and azaleas are the king and queen April and May, peonies are the epitome of June to me.
I also learned that peonies on the bush are full of ants! Apparently peony buds have “extrafloral nectaries” on the outside of the flowers that secret sugars, which the ants love. In the return, the ants fight off other insects that would eat the flowers.
But if you’re going to pick peonies, you don’t want to bring ants into the house. Pick flowers early in the morning before the ants are at their peak and shake early bird ants off, or pick the flowers when they are still tightly budded up and wash the ants off.