Although my Mother was noted for her gorgeous hybrid roses, one of her other most prized garden flowers was the peony. Peonies, a favorite flower for Southern brides, also make spectacular additions to floral arrangements. I always looked forward to peeking into her garden during the first of May to see them bursting into magnificent bloom. Unfortunately, peonies, which have often been referred to as a gardener’s dream, only bloom for a couple of weeks. Although many gardeners in the South find them difficult to grow, certain varieties will grow as far south as Jackson, Mississippi. Mother always though her peonies were much heartier when the spring had been preceded by a cold winter. Alice Harding, the recognized authority on the peony at the beginning of this century wrote her observations: “No garden can really be too small to hold a peony. Had I but four square feet of ground at my disposal, I would plant a peony in the centre and proceed to worship.”
The following pictures were made in my Mother’s garden several years ago.
In 2005, Mother transported roses and peonies from her Mississippi garden to present to Anna after a dance recital performance..
This past Friday I was shopping at our local Winn-Dixie, and was admiring their abundance of potted and freshly cut flowers that were being displayed for Mother’s Day. For some reason, I was thinking about my Mother’s peonies that normally bloom this time of year. I inquired if they would possibly be getting peonies in this spring. The floral department manager looked at me with an astonished look, and this is what she said: “I can’t believe you just asked about peonies. I love them, but no one ever really asks for them. You’ll never believe what just came from FedEx”. She then pulled out a shipping box and proceeded to open it. Inside were several bunches of perfect pink peonies! What an unexpected provision of God’s grace and love to remind me of the many gifts my Mother had given me! (She couldn’t get them out of the box fast enough….)
Golden Sunrise Spirea blooming in my yard complemented the peonies..
“The piercing tenderness of the woodthrush’s song, the dream-like purity of the peonies, the inspiration of the summer morning, bring a happiness that is poignant, a thankfulness for life that is ecstasy itself.”
Thankful for my Mother’s legacy today and her gifts that keep on giving..