January 17, 2012
Winter-peony flowers in Tsurugaoka-hachimangu
Peonies ordinarily flower in April and May. The winter flowering of peonies is artificially activated by using the traditional skill of late raising to present the auspicious and elegant flowers which will bring good fortune in a new year.
In spring and summer, the natural flowering of this plant is inhibited by placing it in a cold environment. In autumn, it is nursed carefully in a temperature-controlled condition to prepare for winter.
After this painstaking process of nursing is continued for two years, the flowers of winter peonies bloom magnificently in harsh and gray winter.
The splendid winter flowers of peonies seem to warm up the spirits of those around them like a cheerful fire in this cold and flowerless season.