Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Peony


“The old cobbler had believed in something he called "the signature of all things"-namely, that God had hidden clues for humanity's betterment inside the design of every flower, leaf, fruit, and tree on earth. All the natural world was a divine code, Boehme claimed, containing proof of our Creator's love.” ― Elizabeth GilbertThe Signature of All Things

There is, at times, an advantage to being a few weeks behind everywhere else when it comes to gardening.  I can ooh and ahh over Rosemary's garden over at Share My Garden or Janet's at The Gardener's Cottage weeks, nay months, before my own blooms.

Even here in New Brunswick, I can see what's about to come into bloom in my own garden about two weeks sooner if I only go downtown.  So really, you get to enjoy the season that much longer.

In my little corner of the world, we are starting to slip into summer and what was a slow march to glory in the cooler June days has become a quick step, a dizzying paso doble, as one flower passes off the mantle of star to the other.

This week begins the week of the Peony.

The peony is almost everyone's favourite flower.

Unlike the rose, it is almost carefree (except for the two that need to be moved this summer as they will not bloom due to too much shade...), seems to get hardier and hardier and more prolific as the years pass and fills every vase to over-flowing...




I counted yesterday and I have 15 on my acreage, all in varying stages of coming into bloom.  I need more.  Can there ever be enough?

 The first to bloom is always my most dramatic beauty, the Queen, who is blessed with one of the few spots of full sun on our property:





What I love about peonies, besides the myriad of varietals available, is that every stage is equally lovely, from the tight balls of colour fairly straining to burst forth...






to the tentative unfurling...





to the show:





The peony is the showgirl of the garden, and she earns her keep.

While the Bachelor's Buttons are almost riotous in their display (look at me! look at me!), the peony just has to be.




And the peonies arrive in the nick of time, just after the snowball bushes are spent, evidence of their brief and glorious lives everywhere:



And while the bridal veil spirea have a very Anne of Green Gables sense about them...



and the Irises their stately disarray




There is only one plant in the garden right now that can compete with the peonies and that is BUTCH:




There is something so delightful about watching the garden unfold, week by week, day by day.  It is different every year and when you are sitting out in it, enjoying an ice tea and reading a good book, you are grateful for the hard work you've put into it.

Last night was hot and after watching a movie, we went out and sat in the gazebo, waiting for the fireflies to come out, which they did.  In the moonlight, my garden is a mysterious place, a place of secrets.  I cannot help but agree with the cobbler in the Elizabeth Gilbert quote above.  (BTW - I am reading and LOVING that book but more on that when I finish it!)

Summer is fleeting and we must enjoy it!

Some like a garden where the hand of art
Appears in every terrace, walk, and bed,
Where vases stand in even rows apart
And shrubs are taught symmetric shade to spread:
But little art I wish; enough for me
This garden where the flowers grow in sweet
simplicity.

Fair is each budding thing the garden shows,
From spring's frail crocus to the latest bloom
Of fading autumn. Every wind that blows
Across that glowing tract sips rare perfume
From all the tangled blossoms tossing there;
Soft winds, they fain would linger long, nor any
farther fare!
 ....

But sweeter far in this old garden close
To loiter 'mid the lovely, old-time flowers,
To breathe the scent of lavender and rose,
And with old poets pass the peaceful hours.
Old gardens and old poets, happy he
Whose quiet summer days are spent in such sweet
company!
-John Russell Hayes, The Old Fashioned Garden

 Have a lovely Sunday and: GO NETHERLANDS!!!!!!!

30 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness, your garden is amazing. We had peonies here a few weeks ago. In fact I was debating about keeping some of the dried cut flowers because they were still lovely. ( They were from a farm, not my yard!)Thank you for sharing your wonderful view!

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    1. I contemplate doing that "freeze-dried" thing to one sometime, but I never get to it and I have never dried them. It is a difficult thing, as I want them in the house and I want them in the garden, so have been known to buy some at the local groceries even though I have tons in the garden. Such is the way of a gardener...

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  2. Wowee, I want Butch, send him over!
    Your poenies are stunning, they are absolute blowsy showgirls, I love them, if Dita Von Teese came back as a flower, this what she would be.

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    1. Butch is amazing and he has an equally amazing cousin at a small inn over in the chamagne region in France. Butch is larger than that one was, but they are pretty amazing. I have a Butch Jr. going, but there is not enough sun and it doesn't do as well as Butch!

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  3. Your garden is looking very beautiful, must have a loving caretaker :)

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  4. Isn't this hot weather grand!! We have fireflies out front but none outback yet. They will come!

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    1. It is supposed to be hot all week - what a delight! do you swim in the river down there?

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  5. Thank you for this, I just love peonies, and you're right, every stage is a wonder.

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    1. Fred - hope you are out at the summer place for this July 4th week!

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  6. Nice trip through your garden. I enjoyed seeing the peony unfurl....

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    1. Yesterday they almost all opened - the heat is making them amazing!

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  7. I hope they are long lasting this year; too much heat and they shatter. Always makes me sad to see them go. Have a wonderful peony week!

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    1. Well it is hot as blazes here, so we shall see!

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  8. LUCKY! I love peonies, but can't grow them - it's too hot here. So sad!! Yours are just spectacular, the garden in general is rewarding you for that long, hard, Winter. Have you ever frozen them for later? Martha Stewart said you could freeze them in bud, bring them out and put them in water and they'd bloom out of season. Have always wondered if it worked…. xx

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    1. If Martha says it, it must be so, for she has never steered me wrong! I am going to look that up tonight before they are fully out. What a treat that would be in January!

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  9. Gosh you have a wonderfully romantic garden, peonies are so carefree aren't they? Just a big exhale when you see them - are they tricky to grow? I would love to have them at our place.

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    1. Simplest plants ever!!!!!!! Honestly, I do nothing to mine!

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  10. Love Peonies! They remind me of my childhood:)
    Btw,could you send me the password to Monty's blog again? She must have changed it again and i dont have the new one.Thanks!

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    1. I think perhaps Summer? I will have to check!

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  11. Gorgeous Wendy!

    Like your garden, I am also behind the times -- I thought I was the only one whose favorite flower was the peony, as my daughter and I only discovered them a couple of years ago. I figured they must be very hard to grow, as no one I know has any in their gardens. But after reading about their hardiness (a necessity for us), I will have to check with our gardener to see if they might be a possibility. What we have in abundance is hydrangeas, and while I also love them too, they are more a pretty background than a centerpiece. We also have knock out roses, which are crazy easy and gorgeous in a less formal way (which I prefer) than the more delicate roses, but still, but they don't make me stop and look at them they way that peonies do.

    Thank you for this column; I've learned something new!

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    1. AUdrey - peonies are so easy. They will tolerate some shade, though not all shade, and other than that, need little. I have a few roses, but am not that successful with them. By the road we have a lot of of rosa rugosas, and I love them, though they are prickly beasts!

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  12. hey, wendy, i've lost monty's latest password - can you send it to me? thanks

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    1. Hey Fred - trying to get it for you and Ina (and me!)

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  13. I adore a good peony: I think I was one in a former life. I only had four blooms this year and miss the riot of colour I had at my old Victorian house.

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    1. I think I am a peony in this life, though I admit a passion for lilies-of-the-valley as well; it is too bad they don't grow at the same time in my garden!

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  14. You have fabulous flowers in your garden Wendy. Yes I do love peonies and I love the colour mix you have in your garden. Enjoy the blooming.

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    1. Thanks Steph! I would like to see there has been any colour planning - I am too disorganized and my mind doesn't think like that, but then I think if the universe makes all of these colours, surely they will go together?

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    2. Wendy, I am in your camp! Except for the blue and white garden.

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    3. Oh would love a blue and white garden. Actually, June is really blue and white around here - the snowball, the spirea, the bachelors buttons, the irises and lilacs (not technically blue, but the hydrangea is weeks away!)

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Kindness is a virtue...