Most often, understandably, and with her audience in mind, Nancy Cabot is praising the most beautiful, yet at the same time, easy to piece designs. But here Cabot is going for the gold, an intricate pattern, to say the least, with a ton of work involved, which is more the difficulty here, than mapping such complex geometry. RED PEONY BUDS first appeared in Cabot's Chicago Tribune column on June 15, 1936, with the following comments appended:
"For the quilt maker who dotes on intricate designs and difficult patterns, RED PEONY BUDS affords grist for her mill. It is one of the most effective of the many all-over patterns because, when the quilt is completed, there is a beautiful series of soft red peonies rambling all over the entire coverlet. Only thirty pieced blocks are required and a four inch border of white adds the finishing touch."
The design is quite accurate, by any observation of the flower, if you do a search, for instance, for red peony buds at Google, or if you have access to a garden in bloom. The side pieces are the leaves cupping the bud, near to flowering, viewed alternately from the side and from the front.
As regards analagous patterns, Jinny Beyer's QUILTER'S ALBUM OF PATCHWORK BLOCKS (p.110-2) locates the design next to DIAMONDS AND SHADOWS — the chevron-like zig-zagging of the empty space between the buds aligning the two patterns quite beautifully. RED PEONY BUDS is reminiscent also of a marvelous saying in Zen (delightful for anyone involved with geometry): "Form is emptiness and emptiness is form." See more on the idea at DOVES IN THE WINDOW, where the empty space between the beaks of four birds conjoined creates the center star. See also LOTUS BLOCK for many more botanical designs at this site, including some unusually complex blocks that could easily compete with this one, for instance, WILD IRIS and (IN) NARCISSUS MOTIF.