Ma Vie En Rose: The Peony Show

The last of the peonies on my office desk. Photo by JAH. July 2018.

Alas, the blooms provided a stunning show.

I’ve written about my being a Peony Loyalist for years. I honestly believed that my love for this beauty was purely accidental. I learned about the flowers when I first saw a bunch of them in a vase on someone’s desk. The first question that came out of my mouth was “where did you buy these?” and she responded that they came from her garden. I was surprised as I didn’t think that these kinds of flowers would survive the Alaskan winters. She explained everything.

I fell in-love that day. I was 23 years old.

When the husband and I built our first house, the peonies were the first ones that I planted. Come to think of it, I had no idea what the hell I was doing  when I planted them, so I thought to myself that if screwed this up–then I really need to steer clear of gardening.

Throughout the years however, I’ve taken quick courses on growing peonies– learning a few hacks here and there.

I’ve lost a few of these beauties throughout the years. Peonies that I believe didn’t like me very much and just decided to die a quick death by exposing their bare roots to the cold winters. I’d be sad the following spring to notice that no little buds spiked out from the ground.

There were summers where I kept hope and made sure not to plant anything in the spots that had peonies but didn’t show any sign of return. I’d be rewarded the next summer when lo’ and behold, a little bud shows up and as it turns out they were merely sleeping. The rule that I’ve learned from numerous experts was: sleep, creep, and leap. Basically, the first year of planting a perennial, the plant sleeps. The next summer it “creeps” not in a creepy way, but it spreads itself, and finally “leap”–I’m assuming that it will leap into full bloom.

The other “hack” that I’ve learned from a local peony farmer is that (and this is friggin’ difficult for me to do) for the first year–when you see these tiny little buds on the plants–PLUCK THEM OFF. Just pluck them in the most savagery way you can imagine. Do you see what I mean why I find that difficult? To me, that little tiny bud can grow into a magnificent flower. But, nope, according to Farmer Savage–one must pluck that off so that you are rewarded next year with bigger blooms.

I’ll admit that Farmer Savage with his flaming bright red hair–was right on.

I did this savagery to the newer plants two summers ago and they returned in full force bloom.

They were more magnificent this year than in previous years. I noticed immediately the two-three buds on one stem drama, and I know that Farmer Savage would have advised to snip those two extra ones–but, I couldn’t find it in my heart to do it. So I let them be.

I’ve come to name some of these beauties as well. There’s the Jen Singh peony named after my best friend who gardens and is the creative connoisseur on everything. She could be a wedding planner if she wanted to, and I’ll be her side kick because all I’m good at when it comes to arts and crafts is holding the hot glue gun to glue things together. I’m an expert at how to glue fingertips together. But, not Jen. She always has a vision of how she approaches events impressing those who are in attendance. The peony named after her is pure white, and its fragrance reminds me of a summer night after the rain.

I’ve also named the pink and cream peony after my sister, Jackie. The peony reminds me a great deal of Jackie–completely stunning, and feisty if needed. I planted her from bare root, and she didn’t go through the sleep, creep, and leap process–she bloomed as soon as she found the leaves and the stem to support her. Pretty similar to Jackie’s bad assery status.

I’m sure these peonies have real names assigned to them (as an example, the pink Sarah Bernhardt). But, you know, I figure that since I’m planting them and nurturing and cultivating their survival–I’m going to name them!

This summer, truly, has to be the best of the annual Peony Show.

I was sad once I had to snip them from the garden to take them into the house or the office–but it was either enjoy them indoors or watch them droop under the rain fall that we’ve been experiencing.

As I write this blog, I have a vase full of the last peonies on my desk, and their fragrance is one permanently etched in my mind.

The Peony Show

The Jen Sing peony–the first to bloom. Photo by JAH. July 2018.
The Jackie peony follows. Photo by JAH. July 2018.
The Jen Singh peony in full bloom. Photo by JAH. July 2018.
The Jackie Peony full bloom. Photo by JAH. July 2018.
One of the new babies, returned. Photo by JAH. July 2018.
The peony garden. Photo by JAH. July 2018.
Bee and peony. Photo by JAH. July 2018.
Pink. Photo by JAH. July 2018.
The last of the season for Jen Singh peony. Photo by JAH.
A handful good enough for a bridal bouquet. Photo by JAH. July 2018.
Last bloom. Photo by JAH. July 2018.
Survivors. Photo by JAH. July 2018.
The last peonies. Photo by JAH. July 2018.
Blooming. Photo by JAH. July 2018.
Till next summer.. the last blooms on my writing desk. Photo by JAH.

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