"It always shocks me to see peonies in the yards of good christian folk."
The Chinese (if I recall my Botany of Desire correctly) considered peonies to be the ultimately female flower. They bred them to have millions of tiny ruffly petals (vagina vagina vagina!) and even to smell like sweat or other body scents. I didn't like peonies at all when I started working in flowers; they were so unstructured, they fell apart after a few days, and I frequently didn't even like the scent. (Turns out every different type of peony has a different scent, and yes, some of them are not terribly appealing. Some are okay, though, or even kind of nice.) I only liked them in the bud stage, when they seemed completely ready to pop open but all I could see yet was a lot of potential energy. That felt sexy to me, that feeling of imminent explosion. But now, when I see a peony fully open, with it's bright yellow center slightly revealed and it's masses of petals all tangled together, I sometimes blush.