The beauty of peonies doesn?t have to be seasonal. While gorgeous garden peonies only last in the garden for a few weeks and have a showy but limited vase life, you can preserve the beauty all year by drying the petals and making a gorgeous, naturally-scented peony bath salts recipe.
Peonies are a garden showstopper. They are tolerant of poor soil, grow well in Zones 2 through 8 and, and will bloom for up to 50 years if they are happy. I wrote all about growing peonies, the different cultivars, the variety of the flowers, and how to cut them for arrangements here:
Once the petals are starting to fall, I run out to the garden with my harvest basket to collect as many pretty petals as I can. Many years ago, my mother gave me a small bag of mixed scented petals she had collected from her garden. There was cornflower, rose, and calendula of course, but there was also these large, deep fuchsia petals that smelled fantastic: peonies! Ever since, I have been collecting and drying peony petals for natural colour in my bath salts and tub teas. Not all peonies hold the colour and fragrance, though, so it?s worth testing out a few varieties to find the right ones.
Herbal Peony?s Medicinal Properties
The root of garden peonies (Paeonea lactiflora) is as a herbal remedy for the liver, spleen, and regulating women?s reproductive organs. The root is dried then made into a decoction or tincture and taken orally. The petals and buds are also harvested and made into tea. Peony petal tea can also be used to make and as a herb for the bath.
How to Dry Peonies
Dried peonies look beautiful in flower arrangements and it helps to preserve the beauty of these fleeting flowers. With blooms that last on the plant and a vase for not nearly long enough in a season, dried peonies give you the option to enjoy them throughout the year. The color of dried peonies can vary quite a bit depending on the variety. Some lose quite a bit of their pigment while others hold on to it for many years. In most cases, the colour will be a bit darker and more muted than the fresh cut flower. White flowers can turn yellow to beige, pink flowers can turn a dusty rose, red flowers can turn a deep burgundy.
Dry peonies when the flower is fully open but before it starts to wilt or lose petals. Hang single peonies or bunches of up to three peonies from a wire rack in a cool dry place with even temperature. The stems can become brittle after they dry but you can replace them with floral wire if needed. Use dry peonies in dried arrangements and wreaths.
Peonies can also be dried for their scented petals. It takes just one or two bomb or double flowers to fill up a mason jar of dried petals so you don?t need much to give you plenty for projects.
Peony petals can be used in potpourri or use to make a herbal bath soak.
Peony Bath Salts Recipe
This fragrant peony bath salt is all natural. With no added colour or fragrance it is a celebration of the vibrant and beauty of nature, captured in a jar. The Epsom salts base soothes achy muscles with magnesium, while the two Himalayan pink salts and minerals to be absorbed in the warm water.
Makes 2 cups (250 ml)
- 1 cup
- 1/2 cup cup dried peony petals, crushed
- 1/4 cup
- 1/4 cup
Crumble dried peony petals using your hand or pulse in a herb grinder. To get ? cup of crushed petals.
Combine with salts and stir to mix.
Package in pretty jars for gift giving.
How to Use Peony Bath Salts
Use 1/2 cup of Peony Bath Salts in a warm bath for a standard-size bathtub and 1 cup for a soaker tub. Soak in the warm water for 20 minutes while drinking a full glass of water. At the end of the bath, use a strainer in the drain to catch the plant material for the compost bin.
If you don?t want to clean out the tub after bath time, turn the bath salts into a peony by adding the salts to a paper tea filter or muslin bag.
More Bath Recipes to Soak in
The time has come to put your vegetable garden at the front and center of your home landscape. For too long gardeners have tucked their veggie beds in the back corner of their yards and let their flower gardens grab all of the attention. Not any more. Bring on the rainbow vegetable garden!
Together we can elevate the humble vegetable garden from a strictly utilitarian space to one of great beauty. You can have a highly decorative vegetable garden that both produces a lot of food for your family and is an attractive part of your landscape.
How to Grow a Rainbow Vegetable Garden
by Megan Cain
At my house, my vegetable garden sits in my front yard, proudly announcing to the world that a gardening addict lives at this address. I?ve also created a number of perennial flower gardens around my yard. Recently, it dawned on me that I could draw upon perennial garden design to also improve the visual impact of my vegetable garden. One of the core principles of garden design is mixing in different colors of foliage to contrast with the most dominant color in the garden ? green. If you walk through any botanical garden you?ll notice purple, yellow, red, variegated, and blue/gray plants woven throughout the garden.
By contrast, vegetable gardens can seem a little flat because the majority of the plants are green. We can grow different colors of vegetables, but those only offer small pops of color, not the dramatic effect we might be looking for. This is where mixing in various colors of foliage can really help us elevate our gardens to works of art! The choices aren?t as endless as in the perennial garden, but we do have some great options to choose from.
Top Plant Choices for Your Rainbow Vegetable Garden
Purple Vegetable Garden Plants
My favorite purple vegetable to grow each year is Redbor kale. By the end of summer it grows pretty tall, and if you sprinkle it throughout your garden you?ll find it will lead your eye around the garden. Other purple plants are Scarlet kale, purple cabbage, Purple Ruffles basil, Dark Purple mizuna, purple asparagus, purple millet, and purple mustard greens.
Red Vegetable Garden Plants
If you flip to the lettuce section of any seed catalog you?ll be astounded by the large array of eye-catching varieties. Consider choosing some dark red varieties and mixing them in with your green lettuce. I?ve even seen people create checkerboard patterns with red and green lettuces. Other options for red rainbow garden plants are Ruby Red chard, Red shiso, Ruby Red orach, and Bull?s Blood beet.
Blue/Gray Vegetable Garden Plants
The steely blue gray of Lacinato kale combined with its upright form provides a striking contrast to most of the plants in a rainbow vegetable garden. I?ve seen photos of long rows of Lacinato in European gardens that take your breath away. Another option for a blue/gray plant is your common garden sage.
Yellow Vegetable Garden Plants
Bright yellows and chartreuses tend to pop out of a landscape when you?re viewing it from afar. Bright Yellow chard will steal your attention every time you walk into your garden. Other options for yellow plants are Golden oregano, Ginger mint, and Golden Pineapple sage.
Variegated Vegetable Garden Plants
Here?s my plea to plant breeders ? make more variegated vegetable plants! The only one I?ve found is Fish pepper and it?s such a fun one to grow. You?ll definitely get asked lots of questions about it by visitors to your garden. You?ll have better luck in the herb category with varieties like Icterina and Tricolor sage, and Silver Edged thyme and Variegated Lemon thyme.
Quick Design Tips for a Rainbow Garden
- I usually put the most visually striking plants (flowers, interesting vegetables) at the ends of my garden beds. That way they?re more easily seen when I?m walking through my garden.
- You can sprinkle the same plant throughout the garden so it leads your eye through the whole scene or you can plant several together for a heavier visual impact.
- If you have different colors of the same vegetable (both purple and green cabbage), plant them together in an alternating design to highlight the contrast.
- If your vegetable garden has a main path, consider lining it with the same plant, like Lacinato kale, to create an alley effect.
This season, join the beautiful vegetable garden revolution and purposefully seek out plants that are any color but green. Let?s take back the unattractive reputation of vegetable gardens together!
About the Author
Megan Cain is setting out to create a legion of gardening addicts that successfully and passionately grow their own food. Through her gardening education business, , she helps people get more from their gardens by first mastering the essentials and then indulging in the colorful details that make gardening not just a favorite pastime, but a lifestyle. Grab her and get colorful with your veggie garden.