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Zurich garden A peony for your thoughts

It was 20 years ago that the Zurich University of Applied Sciences planted a peonies garden. It's a floral attraction for visitors near and far when the 250 different varieties are in bloom.  

The garden is ordered geographically. There are few other garden plants that have a history as long as the peony, which was first cultivated in China over 4,000 years ago.

It was praised for its medicinal properites in ancient Greece. Asclepius, the god with the power of healing, had the surname Paean.

Benedictine monks in the early Middle Ages planted peonies in their gardens. The plant was used at the time to treat a number of ailments, including gout, epilepsy and jaundice.

Symbolically the peony stands for wealth, healing and feminine beauty and is considered the thornless rose.

It travelled with Europeans and Asians to the United States during the great immigration waves of the 19th century.

It's now a common plant across the northern hemisphere.

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