My parents used to have huge peony bushes with flowers the colour of claret and the size of a saucer. Flower heads packed tight with hundreds of delicate, almost velvety petals. They've been a firm favourite of mine ever since. We've tried to grow them in our shady plot but have only managed leaves not petals. So, I must be content with buying mine - a delicate pink - and enjoy watching it unfurl from its tight buds a little more each day.