A few more shots of the Male Peony, Paeonia mascula. Weather was bright but cloudy which has resulted in an overly bright, almost surreal, tint to the flowers, which I can't fix satisfactorily (the tint, not the flowers!). The threat of showers also caused them to close up a bit.
The second photo is of a group of 4 plants of mascula. To their right, Paeonia steveniana showing one bright yellow bud almost ready to open. To the left, Paeonia emodi in the middle distance and Paeonia ruprechtiana at the left front.
Left rear is a light-pink flowered variant of mascula, close-up of it's flower bud (about a day from opening) is the third photo.
P. mascula is a very ornamental, widespread native of southern Europe: into north-central France and into Austria, around to N Africa (in the mountains): around the Mediterranean. It comprises a complex (or grouping) comprising several subspecies formerly considered of species status. The "type" is native to S Italy, Sicily, Greece and Asia Minor. Populations are somewhat disjunct so it is quite variable. A number of references consider it hardy only to USDA zone 8 but it is happy enough here so is good to Zone 5 or colder; to some degree it may depend on the area of origin of the seed. The true species has 5inch purple flowers, with purple filaments; large sharply-pointed handsome leaves. But it is variable.