It's the time of year when all of our local peonies are coming into fragrant bloom. Peonies come in single, double, and anemone types in a variety of shades of red, white, yellow, pink, and salmon. Mine are large, beautiful double white ones with streaks of burgundy running through them. They were my mother's plants which she moved them from garden to garden every time my family moved. Now that she's passed away, I think of her even more every June when they are in bloom and looking glorious. Did you know that Peonies are a member of the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae)? They're related to those little yellow flowers in the grass and the beautiful ranunculus that remind me of smaller peonies. Peonies should be picked when the color begins to show. They will continue to open up in your house. Always use garden clippers and cut them on a slant. If you happen to pick them when they are in full bloom, be sure to check to see if there are any ants hidden in the petals. They are attracted to the serum. Once you bring them inside, dip the stems into warm water to remove the serum and then put them in some cool water until you are ready to use them. If you need them for a party and can't wait until they open up on their own, you can reflex (gently pull back) the petals and open them up yourself. It helps if your fingers are wet when you do this. One large bloom looks beautiful in a 5" glass rose bowl, with a little bit of water and flower food in the base. Just leave a little bit of stem so the flower can "drink". If you have a rectangular dinner table, line the bowls down the center of the table. They'll look beautiful alternated with candles. I love to leave my stems longer and arrange them in a large ceramic pitcher so that they make a big, beautiful mass of color and fragrance.