The Paeony is a flowering plant of the family Paeoniaceae, not native to Britain (though occasionally becoming naturalised) their native distribution includes Asia, Southern Europe and Western North America.
Most are herbaceous perennials much beloved by gardeners for their attractive foliage of compound, deeply lobed leaves and especially for their large, often fragrant, flowers, ranging from red to white or yellow, appearing in late spring and early summer.
Not all are completely herbaceous, and some resemble trees and may reach 3 metres in height and are known, appropriately, as Tree Paeonies!
Tree Paeonies are equally prized by gardeners and there is a fine and beautiful specimen still in flower (early May) just outside the catering outlet Eat at the Square (previously known as the Cedars).
The genus is named after Paeon, a student of Asclepias, the Greek God of medicine and healing. According to mythology, Asclepius became jealous of his pupil (for being so beautiful perhaps?) and Zeus saved Paeon from the wrath of Asclepius by turning him into the Paeony flower.
Now you know! Check it out in all its glory, but be quick, Zeus cannot save him for much longer this year and the blooms are fading fast!