There is nothing subtle about the beauty of peonies. Blooming big and full and fragrant, they are exuberant and outrageous.
And their decline is as spectacular as their blossoming: the flowers become so heavy that they soon bend to the ground, like drunks falling on their faces. And they are so juicy they do not so much wilt as rot on the stem.
A peony past its prime is the very picture of decadence, like the prom queen you run into fifteen years later at a party, drunk and paunchy and wearing too much makeup.